one the first 10 in order.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, one of eight children. His father, Earl Little, was a Baptist preacher who supported Marcus Garvey
's Back to Africa movement. When Malcolm was four, the family moved to Lansing, Michigan, where Earl tried opening a store while continuing his preaching...
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013) was the former leader of the African National Congress (ANC). He was known for his lifelong struggle against apartheid (enforced racial separation), which was instituted in South Africa in 1948. The ANC was soon declared a terrorist organization and banned by the South African government...
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His father, Martin Luther King Sr., was a pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. His mother was a schoolteacher. For Martin the civil rights movement began one summer in 1935 when he was six years old. Two of his friends did not show up to play ball with him and Martin decided to go looking for them...
U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham
, was a white American from Wichita, Kansas. His father, Barack Obama Sr.
, who was black, was from Alego, Kenya. They were both young college students at the University of Hawaii. When his father left for Harvard...
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother...
Denzel Washington is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received three Golden Globe awards, a Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory
and Best Actor for his role as a corrupt cop in the crime thriller Training Day
. Denzel Hayes Washington...
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...
Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman. While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, family...
Born in New York City, Tupac grew up primarily in Harlem. In 1984, his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland where he became good friends with Jada Pinkett Smith
. His family moved again in 1988 to Oakland, California. His first breakthrough in music came in 1991 as a member of the group Digital Underground...
Willard Carroll "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and songwriter. He has enjoyed success in television, film, and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him "the most powerful actor in Hollywood". Smith has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards...
Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters, stages, and television screens throughout the world. Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958 in New York City, to Betty Jane (Gilbert), a social worker, and Daniel Benjamin Bassett, a preacher's son...
Ice Cube was born in South Central Los Angeles, to Doris (Benjamin), a custodian and hospital clerk, and Hosea Jackson, a UCLA groundskeeper. He first came to public notice as a singer and songwriter with the controversial and influential band N.W.A. His compositions with that group included many of the classic cuts from their debut LP "Straight Outta Compton" (Ruthless/Priority...
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Cuba Gooding Jr. was born on January 2, 1968, in The Bronx, New York. His mother, Shirley (Sullivan), was a backup singer for The Sweethearts. His father, Cuba Gooding
, was the lead vocalist for the R&B group The Main Ingredient
, which had a hit with the song "Everybody Plays The Fool". His paternal grandfather was from Barbados...
One of Hollywood's most talented and versatile performers and the recipient of a truckload of NAACP Image awards, Laurence John Fishburne III was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961, to Hattie Bell (Crawford), a teacher, and Laurence John Fishburne, Jr., a juvenile corrections officer. His mother transplanted her family to Brooklyn after his parents divorced...
Jaden Smith is a movie actor, known for The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), The Karate Kid (2010) and After Earth (2013). In addition to being an actor he is also a dancer, songwriter and rapper who won an MTV award for his performance in The Pursuit of Happyness. He co-starred with his father Will Smith in both The Pursuit of Happyness and in the 2013 science fiction film After Earth...
Wesley Trent Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, to Maryann (Long), a teacher's assistant, and Wesley Rudolph Snipes, an aircraft engineer. He grew up on the streets of the South Bronx in New York City, where he very early decided that the theater was to be his career. He attended the High School for the Performing Arts (popularized in Fame
On the stage and on the big screen, Delroy Lindo projects a powerful presence that is almost impossible to ignore. Alhough it was not his first film role, his portrayal of the bipolar numbers boss West Indian Archie in Spike Lee
's Malcolm X
is what first attracted attention to Lindo's considerable talents. Since then, his star has slowly been on the rise...
This stunning and resourceful actress has been primarily a film player thus far. Only recently has she been opening herself up more to doing television (the series Gemini Division
, which she executive-produced), and animated voice-overs. Dawson's powerhouse talent stands out the most in edgy, urban filming that dates back to 1995 when she was only sixteen...
Stunning pop culture icon, Hollywood leading lady and three-time NAACP award winner Nia Long returns to the big screen this fall in the highly anticipated Universal Pictures sequel The best man holiday (in theaters November 15th) where she reunites with original castmates Taye Diggs ("Private Practice")...
Zoe Saldana was born on June 19, 1978 in Passaic, New Jersey, to Asalia Nazario and Aridio Saldaña. Her father was Dominican and her mother is Puerto Rican. She was raised in Queens, New York. When she was 10 years old, she and her family moved to the Dominican Republic where they would live for the next seven years...
Gabrielle Union was born on October 29, 1972, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Theresa (Glass), who managed a phone company, and Sylvester E. Union, a military sergeant and business executive. When she was eight, her family moved to Pleasanton, California, where she grew up and attended high school. In high school...
Christopher Julius Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of Rosalie (Tingman), a teacher and social worker for the mentally handicapped, and Julius Rock, a truck driver and newspaper deliveryman, whose own father was a preacher. Rock has been in stand-up comedy for several decades...
Bernard Jeffrey McCollough was born in Chicago in 1957. He grew up in Chicago, in a rougher neighborhood than most others, with a large family living under one roof. This situation provided him with a great insight into his comedy, as his family, and the situations surrounding them would be what dominated his comedy...
Terry Crews was born in Flint, Michigan, to Patricia and Terry Crews, Sr. He earned an Art Excellence Scholarship to attend Western Michigan University and also earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to play football. Crews was an All-Conference defensive end, and was a major contributor on the 1988 MAC champion WMU Broncos...
An outrageous cueball-domed comedian of film and TV satire, fortified by a dazzling, sly smile, New York-born Damon Wayans is the third of ten children of Elvira Alethia (Green), a social worker and singer, and Howell Wayans, a supermarket manager. He grew up humbly in the Fulton Housing Projects. He began zeroing in on his comedic skills while still a child...
On January 16th 1979 the world was blessed with the birth of Aaliyah Dana Haughton in Brooklyn, New York. Aaliyah was raised by her father, mother and brother Rashad Haughton
in Detroit. At age 9 she appeared on Star Search
, the TV program and sang "My Funny Valentine", a song which her mother had sung years earlier...
An only child, Idris Elba was born and raised in Hackney, London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at a Ford motor factory. His mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He gained a place in the National Youth Music Theatre - thanks to a £1,500 Prince's Trust grant...
Michael Kenneth Williams
Born in Brooklyn, to an African American father from South Carolina and a Bahamian mother from Nassau, Michael K. Williams was raised in the Vandaveer housing projects in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York City and attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School. According to a DNA analysis, he is descended partly from the Mende people of Sierra Leone...
Donald Frank Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1964. His childhood found him moving from city to city with his family: mother Bettye (North), a teacher, father Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, sister Dawn, and brother Colin. After graduating high school in Denver...
At one point in time, Chris Tucker was the highest paid actor in Hollywood. Tucker was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Mary Louise (Bryant) and Norris Tucker, who owned a janitorial service. After graduating from high school, Tucker made a change to move to Hollywood from Georgia to pursue a career in show business...
Meagan Monique Good was born on 8 August 1981 in Panorama City, California, USA, to Tyra Wardlow-Doyle, who worked as her manager, and Leondis "Leon" Good, an LAPD officer. She began appearing on commercials at the age of four. Then she started guest-starring on series like The Parent 'Hood
, Touched by an Angel
Born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 19, 1982, Columbus Keith Short, Jr., started entertaining at the age of three, by putting on shows for his folks' enjoyment. Whether impersonating relatives, dancing or just making people laugh, everyone sensed something special about the boy. Fortunately, his family later relocated to Los Angeles where...
Snoop Dogg was born in Long Beach, California, to Beverly (Tate) and Vernell Varnado, who was a mail carrier and singer. His parents were both originally from Mississippi. He got his name from his mother, who jokingly remarked that he looked like the Peanuts character Snoopy. Snoop is known primarily for his achievements in the music industry...
Tyrese Darnell Gibson was born December 30, 1978 in Watts, Los Angeles, California, where he was raised. He is an R&B singer, songwriter, actor, author, television producer and model. He is well known for his actor role as Roman Pearce in the The Fast and Furious movie franchise. Other popular movies Tyrese has acted in are Death Race...
Regina King was born in Los Angeles, California, to Gloria, a special education teacher, and Thomas King, an electrician. She began her career in the television show 227
, followed by a role in Boyz n the Hood
. She began to be recognized by a mainstream audience after her role as Cuba Gooding Jr.
's character's wife in Jerry Maguire
Anna Maria Horsford
Anna Maria Horsford was born and raised in Harlem, New York. Her parents immigrated to the United States from the island nation Antigua & Barbuda, in the West Indies (then a British colony), during the 1940s. Anna grew up not really feeling American but not West Indian either, just somewhere in between...
Michael Clarke Duncan
Michael Clarke Duncan was born on December 10, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his single mother, Jean, a house cleaner, on Chicago's South Side, Duncan grew up resisting drugs and alcohol, instead concentrating on school. He wanted to play football in high school, but his mother wouldn't let him, afraid that he would get hurt. He then turned to acting, dreaming of becoming a famous actor...
LL Cool J
L.L. Cool J was born James Todd Smith on January 14, 1968, in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, the son of Ondrea Griffith and James Louis Smith, Jr. Todd, as he was called, did not have a very happy childhood. At the age of four, he saw his mother and grandfather shot by his own father. After they recovered from their injuries...
Omar Epps is an American actor, starring on the ABC drama Resurrection
. Epps was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised by his mother, Bonnie Maria Epps, an elementary school principal. No stranger to the big screen, Epps has appeared in lead roles in feature films, including Paramount's Against the Ropes
Mekhi Phifer was born in Harlem, Manhattan, and was raised by his mother, Rhoda, a high school teacher. Phifer's acting career began when he auditioned at an open casting call for director Spike Lee
and was selected for the leading role. Working alongside Harvey Keitel
and Delroy Lindo
Harris was born Sherwin David Harris in Chicago, Illinois, to John and Mattie Harris. However, he works under his nickname, "Wood". Attended New York University Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School. Has performed in many films and various stage productions including plays by August Wilson
, William Shakespeare
and Tennessee Williams
Often considered hip-hop's first lady (though some would attribute that to Roxanne Shanté
), the woman behind the moniker Queen Latifah was born Dana Owens on March 18th, 1970, in East Orange, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Rita (Bray), a teacher, and Lancelot Owens, Sr. She came from a police family--both her father and older brother were cops...
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Koren Pinkett Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Robsol Grant Pinkett, Jr., a contractor, and Adrienne Banfield-Jones
, a nurse. They divorced after only a few months of marriage. Her father is of African-American descent and her mother is of Afro-Caribbean ancestry (from Barbados and Jamaica). Jada majored in dance and choreography at the Baltimore School for the Arts...
Born in the South Jamaica section of Queens, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has lived in New York City all his life. He was raised by his grandparents after his father ran out and his mother was shot when he was only eight. Growing up, the Queens rapper originally wanted to be a heavyweight boxer, but eventually fell back on rapping...
Strikingly featured and muscular American actor Ving Rames was born Irving Rameses Rhames in Harlem, New York, to Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic. A good student, Ving entered the New York High School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting. He studied at the Juilliard School of Drama...
Forest Steven Whitaker has packaged a king-size talent into his hulking 6' 2", 220 lb. frame. He won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, and has also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He is the fourth African-American male to win an Academy Award for Best Actor...
Regarded as one of hip-hop's most introspective and insightful artists, Mos Def has shaped a career that transcends music genres and artistic medium. Taking a cue from the Afrocentric stylings of the Native Tongues crew, which included De La Soul
, Jungle Brothers
, A Tribe Called Quest and Andres Titus
Omari Ishmael Grandberry was born on 12th November 1984 in California, Los Angeles. He is the older brother of singer O'Ryan. He and his former band-mates Lil Fizz, Raz-B and J-Boog were discovered by manager and director Christopher B. Stokes. They formed a band called B2K. B2K stands for Boys of the New Millennium...
Spike Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. At a very young age, he moved from pre-civil rights Georgia, to Brooklyn, New York. Lee came from artistic, education-grounded background; his father was a jazz musician, and his mother, a schoolteacher. He attended school in Morehouse College in Atlanta and developed his film making skills at Clark Atlanta University...
Sanaa Lathan, pronounced Sa-NAA, "like Sinatra without the tra", was born on September 19, 1971, in New York, as her actress mother Eleanor McCoy
performed on Broadway with the likes of Eartha Kitt
, and her director father Stan Lathan
worked behind the scenes in television for PBS. She was exposed to the life of entertainment and stars at a very early age...
Regina Hall was born December 12, 1970 in Washington, D.C., to Ruby, a teacher, and Odie Hall, a contractor. She graduated from Fordham University in 1992, and went on to earn a master's degree in journalism from New York University before shifting to an acting career. In 1997 at age 26, she began appearing in commercials...
Ludacris was born Christopher Brian Bridges in Champaign, Illinois, where he was raised, the son of Roberta Shields and Wayne Brian Bridges. At nine years old, he started rapping. He attended Emerson Middle School and, eventually, Oak Park and River Forest High School for his freshman year. Furthermore...
T.I. was born Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. on September 25, 1980, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Violeta Morgan and Clifford "Buddy" Harris, Sr. He is also known as T.I.P. and "Rubberband Man". T.I. is from the streets of Westside Bankhead Zone 1 in Atlanta. His original stage name, T.I.P., it stems from his childhood nickname "Tip"...
The Notorious B.I.G.
Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, was born in Brooklyn, New York, May 21, 1972. He was the son of Jamaican parents, Voletta Wallace, a pre-school teacher, and George Latore, a welder and small-time politician. He was raised in the poor Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant as the son of a preschool teacher...
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn. White portrayed Jax Briggs in Mortal Kombat: Legacy...
Vanessa Lynn Williams was born in Millwood, New York, to Helen L. (Tinch) and Milton Augustine Williams, Jr., both music teachers. Vanessa and her brother grew up in suburban New York in comfortable surroundings. Vanessa sang and danced in school productions and signed her high school yearbook with a promise to "see you on Broadway"...
Multi-talented actor/comedian Katt Williams was born in Cincinnati and raised in Dayton, Ohio. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where he is simultaneously working on several projects on camera and behind the scenes for your viewing pleasure in the near future. Throughout his journey...
Edward Regan Murphy was born April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, to Lillian, a telephone operator, and Charles Edward Murphy, a transit police officer who was also an amateur comedian and actor. After his father died, his mother married Vernon Lynch, a foreman at a Breyer's Ice Cream plant. His siblings are Charlie Murphy
and Vernon Lynch
Nas, born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones on September 14, 1973, is the son of Olu Dara
, an unconventional jazz musician. At age nine he was a member of the Devastatin' Seven in the mid-1980s, the fruits of which can be heard on his 1994 debut, "Illmatic," which was released on Columbia/SME later that year...
Bill Cosby is one of the world's most well-known entertainers and comedians. William Henry Cosby, Jr. was born on July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Anna Pearl (Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby, Sr., a U.S. Navy sailor. After tenth grade, Cosby joined the Navy and completed high school through a correspondence course...
Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life. His father, Joe Jackson
, had been a guitarist, but was forced to give up his musical ambitions following his marriage to Katherine Jackson
(née Katherine Esther Scruse). Together...
“ He is black. ” - IdbaSilas
Highly influential, and always controversial, African-American actor/comedian who was equally well known for his colorful language during his live comedy shows, as for his fast paced life, multiple marriages and battles with drug addiction. He has been acknowledged by many modern comic artist's as a key influence on their careers...
Redd Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous "Chitlin' Circuit" in the 1940s and 1950s. Foxx was one of the premier "blue humor" comedians. Blue humor was very dirty, too dirty for white audiences. For years his party albums were not available in white record stores. In the 1960s his records became available...
David Alan Grier
David Alan Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Aretas Ruth (Dudley), a schoolteacher, and William Henry Grier, a psychiatrist and writer. He trained in Shakespeare at Yale University, where he received an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Grier began his professional career on Broadway as Jackie Robinson
in "The First"...
Hughley is the second of four children. His father was an airline maintenance worker and his mother was a homemaker. He grew up in L.A.'s South Central where he was a member of the Bloods gang after getting kicked out of high school. However, he turned his life around after a cousin was shot. He quit the gang and got a job as a telemarketer for the Los Angeles Times...
Robert Townsend transcends any medium he touches whether he's performing stand up, acting, writing, directing, producing, or running a television network. A Chicago native, Townsend is often referred to as one of the "Godfathers" of the Independent Film World." With over 30 years in the business, he has made an indelible mark in Hollywood with an extensive list of credits...
Jamie Foxx is an American actor, singer, and comedian. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, for his work in the 2004 biographical film Ray
. The same year, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the action film Collateral
Monique received a standing ovation when she stepped on stage for the first time in the hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, giving her confidence to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. After numerous stand-up performances, she took a leap forward with one of the starring roles in The Parkers
Dave Chappelle's career started while he was in high school at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC where he studied theatre arts. At the age of 14, he began performing stand-up comedy in nightclubs. Shortly after graduation, he moved to New York City where he quickly established himself as a major young talent...
He symbolized the 70s American dream of success -- the former kid from the ghetto who rose to wisecracking TV superstardom. While in his element as the broadly strutting, gleamy-toothed J.J. Evans of the popular urban-styled sitcom Good Times
, Jimmie Walker lived the extremely good life. Following the series' demise...
Guy Torry is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. Known as "Torry" by college friends, Guy attended Southeast Missouri State University, the alma mater of fellow comedian and St. Louisan, Cedric The Entertainer. His comic genius was evident to fellow students during these college years. Guy often held impromptu comedy "slams" in dorm breakrooms...
Jennifer Hudson is a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Academy Award-winning actress and best-selling author. Bright and booming talent Hudson is a perfect example of how NOT winning the title of American Idol
can actually be a boon to your career and not necessarily the end of a childhood dream...