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Top 30 Famous Black Actors of All Time

Top 30 Famous Black Actors of All Time

Recent research shows us that the film industry is changing, and with this, more and more young black actors are becoming stars each day.

List of Famous Black Actors

Well, some of these names are truly amazing performers for decades, and on the other hand, many of them are the newcomers who took the whole film industry by storm. And today, in this article, we decided to honor the legacy of famous black actors by creating a top 30 list to help you discover the true entertainers of all time.

1- Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier was one of the famous black British actors, directors, and diplomats. He gained worldwide fame and fans after being the first Afro-Bahamian Black male actor to receive an Oscar for Best Actor in 1964. Later in 2009, he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has worked in several notable Hollywood films, including ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ and ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told.’ Also, after his death, many documentaries were based on him, such as Sidney Poitier, an Outsider in Hollywood.

2- Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

The Prominent character actor, Morgan Freeman, is one of the old black actors and directors, best known for his brilliant performances in movies like ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ ‘Street Smart,’ and ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’ Well! In a career which is spanning over half a century, he has received various accolades, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Moreover, besides his acting career, he advocates environmental causes.

3- Danny Glover

Danny Glover

Danny Glover is one of the most famous black actors over 50 actors whose career has spanned more than four and a half decades. Apart from being an actor and director, he has had a significant impact as an activist. And he has made his presence in countries like Brazil, Iraq, Venezuela, Israel, and many other African countries.

Also, he is famous for his well-played role in several Hollywood comedy, horror, and action films, such as ‘The Colour Purple’ and ‘Witness.’ Moreover, Danny Glover has won many awards for his artistic acting and directing skills. They include the Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor and the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Film.

4- Will Smith

Will Smith

The charismatic and versatile American-based artist, Will Smith, was a successful rapper in his early days. But later, he had a successful transition into film and television that soon made Smith a successful artist. And with solid earnings, he has also secured himself in the list of highest-paid actors in the world.

5- Bernie Mac

Bernie Mac

A well-known comedian and actor, Bernie Mac, was famous for being listed in Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time list back in 2017. Moreover, he is still remembered for his exceptional acting skills in Hollywood comedy and action films.

6- John David Washington

John David Washington

The Son of the famous actor and director, Denzel Washington, John David Washington, is an ex-professional footballer – who played in the NFL Europe and the United Football League (UFL).

Later, he co-produced a film titled ‘The Book of Eli.’ And gained fame as an actor by working in the HBO drama series, ‘Ballers.’ After that, he appeared in films based on social issues, such as ‘BlacKkKlansman’ Tenet.

7- Nick Cannon

Nick Cannon

Nicholas Cannon, better known as Nick Cannon, is one famous black comedian actors, rapper, and television host. And ‘The Nick Cannon Show,’ ‘America’s Got Talent,’ and ‘The Masked Singer’ are some of his well-known television shows. Also, he has acted in films like ‘Drumline’ and ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing.’

8- Anthony Macki

Anthony Macki

Anthony Mackie is an American-based actor and comedian – who earned international recognition after playing the role of Sam Wilson Falcon in a series of superheroes that Marvel Studios produced. And he is a self-made man who acquired his degree from the Juilliard School and worked hard day and night to prove himself in the American film and television industry.

9- LaKeith Stanfield

LaKeith Stanfield

LaKeith Lee Stanfield, better known as LaKeith Stanfield, is an American African-based professional artist and comedian famous for playing real-life personalities like Snoop Dogg and Jimmie Lee Jackson in biographical films.

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And for playing the role of rapper Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton, Stanfield won the Breakthrough Performer award at the Hamptons International Film Festival United States.

10- Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White is an American-based martial artist and actor. When he played the role of Al Simmons in the famous film Spawn’ Michael became one of the first black actors to play a major comic book superhero in the history of the Hollywood film industry. And as of now, he is one of the most handsome black actors present in the Hollywood film industry.

11- Michael K. Williams

Michael K. Williams

Michael Williams is among the most popular black actors today. Apart from his versatility, he can thrill movie watchers with excellent performances. Moreover, Michael is well known for his role in several Hollywood films, such as ‘The Wire.’ He has also starred in many international movies, such as ’12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Bessie,’ ‘The Road, and The Night Of.’

12- Djimon Hounsou

Djimon Hounsou

Djimon Hounsou is one of the famous black bald actors who have won a lot of awards for his performance in several well-known Hollywood films, such as ‘Blood Diamond,’ ‘In America,’ ‘Furious 7,’ and ‘Gladiator.’

Also, he has won many other awards, including the Black Reel Awards for Best Supporting Actor twice and the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor.

13- Ving Rhames

Ving Rhames

Ving Rhames is one of the American African-based black actors under 40 and a director famous for playing the role of Villain in several Hollywood films, such as Con Air and Pulp Fiction. In addition, for his well-played role in Con Air and Pulp Fiction, he has won the Golden Globe Award.

Moreover, he has played the role of a boxer for filming a documentary on Don King in Don King: Only in America. And as of now, he is one of the most followed black male actors in the Hollywood industry.

14- Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence is a famous German-born-American actor and comedian. Well, apart from being traumatized after his parents’ sudden divorce at the age of eight, Lawrence went on to succeed as a comedian and later as a leading actor in the Hollywood film industry.

Moreover, after a problematic 1990s, which included arrests, lawsuits, and health problems, Martin came back with several hit films. And reportedly, as of now, he is the most successful black actor in the world.

15- James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones is one of the finest actors alive in the Hollywood film industry. His booming loud voice and excellent acting and comedy skills are everything an action film needs.

Well, he started his career when he was just a kid. And as of now, he has a career, which is spanning over nine decades. Also, reportedly, he is 91 years old at this moment.

16- Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor

Considering one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time, Richard Pryor. He has entertained his audience and influenced many generations of stand-up comedians with his pointed and skillful art of storytelling.

He began his career by performing at nightclubs. And later, he gained tremendous fame with his third comedy album titled ‘That Nigger’s Crazy.’ Moreover, after that, he became an actor and an award-winning writer.

17- Taye Diggs

Taye Diggs

Scott Leo ‘Taye’ Digg, better known as Taye Diggs, is an actor, comedian, producer, and director famous for directing and working in several Hollywood films, such as ‘All American’ and ‘Rent.’

Moreover, Taye is well known in the Hollywood film industry for his co-produced films, including ‘Set It Up’ and ‘Murder In The First.’ And as of now, he is still working as an actor, director, comedian, and producer for the Hollywood industry.

18- Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson

Actor and producer Samuel L. Jackson is widely famous as one of the most popular actors of his generation. He is a high actor who has appeared in more than 150 films and is especially well-known for his well-played roles in ‘Quentin Tarantino’ films. Well! Besides acting, he has voiced for several animated Hollywood films, television series, and video games.

19- Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker is an American-based actor famous for his Academy Award-winning performance as a real-life dictator in ‘The Last King of Scotland.’ Fans also loved him in many other Hollywood films, such as ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Ghost Dog.’

Moreover, he is the winner of the UN’s Global Goals awards and supports peace-building initiatives and programs that help war victims.

20- Jammie Foxx

Jammie Foxx

Jammie Foxx is an American-based actor, comedian, and singer. He is famous for joining the cast as a featured player in the sketch comedy show ‘In Living Color’ until the show ends. He is also famous for being a comedian and actor who has appeared in several Hollywood films, such as ‘Just Mercy’ and ‘Robin Hood.’

21- Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle

Donald Frank Cheadle Jr., better known as Don Cheadle, has a long list of films where he has acted, but his most notable projects are ‘Avengers: End Game’ and ‘House Of Lies.’ He is a well-known actor and comedian who has his shares in many charity houses, where people help poor kids complete their education.

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22- Cuba Gooding Jr.

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is the son of soul singer Cuba Gooding Sr. He rose to fame with his Award-winning Academy role as Rod Tidwell in ‘Jerry Maguire.’ Also, he has played many roles of real-life characters, such as ‘O.J Simpson’ and ‘Ben Carson.’ Moreover, his other notable projects include ‘Pearl Harbor’ and ‘As Good As It Gets.;

23- Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito is one of the most versatile black male actors in the Hollywood film industry. He is well known for his role in ‘Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.’ Moreover, he has won many awards for his acting skills, such as the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and the National Board of Review Award.

24- Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan

Michael Bakari Jordan, better known as Michael B. Jordan, is one of the famous young black actors and producers. He is famous for his film roles as shooting victim Oscar Grant in the drama ‘Fruitvale Station’ (2013), boxer Donnie Creed in ‘Creed’ (2015), and Erik Killmonger in ‘Black Panther’ (2018) – all three of which were directed by Ryan Coogler.

25- Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman

A versatile actor and an inspiration for a generation of black youths, Chadwick Boseman is best remembered for performing many notable real-life roles of black figures, such as Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown in their biographies.

26- Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan was one of the most famous actors and was best known for John Coffey in the well-known fantasy drama film ‘The Green Mile.’ Apart from acting in movies, dramas, and TV series, he was also featured in many international video games, such as SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, and The Suffering: Ties That Bind.

27- Shad Moss

Shad Moss

Shad Gregory Moss, better known by Bow Wow and Shad Moss, is an American-based rapper and actor. His career began when rapper Snoop Dogg discovered him in the late 1990s. After that, he started his singing career. And later, he joined the Hollywood film industry.

28- André 3000

André 3000

André Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000, is an American-based actor and composer famous for appearing in several Hollywood films, such as ‘Four Brothers’ (2005), ‘Idlewild’ (2006), and ‘Revolver’ (2005). Also, he is well known in the Hollywood music industry for his surprise appearance in many songs videos.

29- Keith David

Keith David

Three-time Emmy-winner Keith David is best known for his voice roles in many international films, such as ‘The War’ and ‘Unforgivable Blackness.’ He has described several documentaries and audiobooks. And have voiced over iconic characters such as Arbiter in the ‘Halo’ games.

30- Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali

The newcomer in the industry, Mahershala Ali has earned his name in the Hollywood industry by working hard in the last decade. His first major release was David Fincher’s ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.’ Since then, he has played many popular roles in movies, such as the ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Predators’, ‘Hidden Figures,’ and ‘Moonlight.’

Famous Black ActorsOccupationNet Worth
Sidney PoitierActors, Directors & Diplomats$20 Million
Morgan FreemanActor, Narrator & Director$250 million
Danny GloverActor, Director & Political Activist$40 Million
Will SmithActor, Rapper & Film Producer$350 Million
Bernie MacActor and Comedian$15 Million
John David WashingtonActor, Producer & Former Professional Football Player$6 Million
Nick CannonComedian, Actor, Rapper & TV Presenter$30 Million
Anthony MackiActor$8 Million
LaKeith StanfieldActor and Musician$2 Million
Michael Jai WhiteActor, Director & Martial Artist$3.5 Million
Michael K. WilliamsActor$5 Million
Djimon HounsouActor and Model$12 Million
Ving RhamesActor $16 Million
Martin LawrenceActor, Comedian, Produce$110 Million
James Earl JonesActor$45 Million
Richard PryorActor and Comedian$40 Million
Taye DiggsActor$14 Million
Samuel L. JacksonActor and Producer$250 Million
Forest WhitakerActor, Director & Producer$30 Million
Jammie FoxActor, Comedian & Singer$150 Million
Don CheadleActor$40 Million
Cuba Gooding Jr.Actor$15 Million
Giancarlo EspositoActor$8 Million
Michael B. JordanActor and Film Producer$25 Million
Chadwick BosemanActor and Playwright $8 Million
Michael Clarke DuncanActor$18 Million
Shad MossActor and Rapper$1.5 Million
André 3000Rapper, Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer & Actor.$35 Million
Keith DavidActor, Voice Artist & Producer$3 Million
Mahershala AliActor and Rapper$12 Million

The Bottom Line!

According to IMDb, there are many great and famous black actors in the film industry. But the indisputable fact is that only a few of them know how to entertain their fans and audience by performing their roles in the way no other actor can. And this list includes the must-watch ones and best ones of all time. Well, who’s your favorite black actor? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Frequently Asked Questions About Famous Black Actors

Q: Who are the famous black actors who played gay roles?

A: Tracy Jordan and Tray Barker have played gay roles in many Hollywood films.

Q: What are the famous black actors who died?

A: Gary Coleman, Teddy Pendergrass, and Bubba Smith were the most famous black actors who died.

Q: Who is the best black actor in history?

A: Samuel L. Jackson is the best black actor present in history who has won many awards and has appeared in many Hollywood and international films.

Q: Who are the famous black actors who can sing?

A: Bradley Cooper and Joseph Gordon Levitt are the two black actors in the film industry who can sing like a pro.

Q: Who are the famous black actors with a mustache?

A: Law Man is the most remarkable black man with a mustache.