My Favorite Black Actresses

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1.
Alfre Woodard
Actress, Primal Fear
Alfre Woodard was born on November 8, 1952 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children of Constance, a homemaker, and Marion H. Woodard, an interior designer. She was named by her godmother, who claimed she saw a vision of Alfre's name written out in gold letters. A former high school cheerleader and track star...
 
2.
Cicely Tyson
Actress, The Help
Cicely Tyson was born in Harlem, New York City, where she was raised by her devoutly religious parents, from the Caribbean island of Nevis. Her mother, Theodosia, was a domestic, and her father, William Tyson, was a carpenter and painter. She was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine and...
 
3.
Angela Bassett
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...
 
4.
Loretta Devine
Actress, Crash
Loretta Devine was born August 21, 1949 in Houston, Texas, to Eunice O'Neal (née Toliver), a beautician, and James Devine, who worked as a laborer. Loretta grew up in the Acres Home area of Houston and later enrolled at the University of Houston, where she earned a a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama...
 
6.
Regina King
Actress, Ray
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...
 
7.
Sanaa Lathan
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...
 
8.
Zoe Saldana
Actress, Avatar
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...
 
9.
Vivica A. Fox
Vivica A. Fox was born in South Bend, Indiana, on July 30, 1964, and is the daughter of Everlyena, a pharmaceutical technician, and William Fox, a private school administrator. She is of Native American and African-American descent and is proud of her heritage. She is a graduate of Arlington High School in Indianapolis...
 
10.
Gabrielle Union
Actress, Bad Boys II
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...
 
11.
Jessica Lucas
Actress, Cloverfield
Jessica Lucas (born September 24, 1985[1]) is a Canadian actress and singer. She is known for her roles in television, such as Edgemont, Melrose Place, and Cult, and in the films The Covenant, Cloverfield and the 2013 Evil Dead. She also starred in the music video for Coldplay's 2014 single "True Love"...
 
13.
Viola Davis
Actress, The Help
Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), a maid and factory worker...
 
14.
Maya Rudolph
Actress, Bridesmaids
Maya Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Florida, on July 27th, 1972, to Dick Rudolph, a music producer, and soul singer Minnie Riperton. Her mother was African-American and her father is Ashkenazi Jewish (from a family from Lithuania, Russia, Germany, and Hungary). In 1973, Maya, her parents, and her older brother...
 
15.
Thandie Newton
Thandie Newton was born in London. She is the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother, Nyasha, a health-care worker from the Shona tribe, and Nick Newton, a British father who worked as a lab technician. She lived in Zambia until political unrest caused her family to move back to the UK. She then lived in Cornwall in the southwest of Britain until the age of 11...
 
16.
Jennifer Hudson
Actress, Dreamgirls
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...
 
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18.
Nia Long
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")...
 
19.
Pam Grier
Actress, Jackie Brown
Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched her with The Big Doll House...
 
20.
Aunjanue Ellis
Actress, Men of Honor
Aunjanue Ellis was born in San Francisco, California. She graduated from the Brown University, and later attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. During her career, Ellis performed on Off-Broadway theater, appeared in many film, and had roles on television. In film, she is best known for her roles in "Men of Honor" (2000)...
 
22.
Halle Berry
Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was African-American, and worked as a hospital attendant. Her mother, Judith Ann (Hawkins), who is Caucasian, has English and German ancestry, and is a retired psychiatric nurse. Halle has an older sister named Heidi Berry...
 
23.
Whoopi Goldberg
Self, The View
Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. Her mother, Emma (Harris), was a teacher and a nurse, and her father, Robert James Johnson, Jr., was a clergyman. Whoopi's recent ancestors were from Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway...
 
24.
Jasmine Guy
Actress-dancer-director Jasmine Guy has enjoyed a diverse career in television, theatre and film. She began her professional career at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. Jasmine starred on Broadway in the original productions of Beehive and Leader of the Pack, and reprised hit productions of 'Grease'...
 
25.
Lynn Whitfield
Actress, Stepmom
With roots that lead back to Louisiana southern aristocracy, lovely leading lady Lynn Whitfield was born in 1953, the eldest of four children and a third-generation BFA graduate from Howard University. Her dentist father was instrumental in developing Lynn's initial interest in acting as he was a prime figure in forming community theater in her native Baton Rouge...
 
26.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Actress, Underground
Jurnee Smollett-Bell was born on October 1, 1986 in New York City, New York, USA as Jurnee Diana Smollett. She is an actress, known for her role as "Jess Merriweather" on the Emmy Award-winning TV series, Friday Night Lights. She is also known for her roles in The Great Debaters, Eve's Bayou, True Blood...
 
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28.
Queen Latifah
Actress, Living Single
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...
 
29.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Actress, Collateral
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...
 
30.
Naturi Naughton
Actress, Fame
Naturi Naughton is an American Singer and Actress best known for her performance as "Lil Kim" in Fox Searchlight's hit film "Notorious", and her role in MGM's remake of the classic film "Fame". Naughton has starred in various other projects such as: Lottery Ticket, The Playboy Club, Mad Men and The Client List...
 
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32.
Meagan Good
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...
 
33.
Gabourey Sidibe
Actress, Precious
Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, the star of Precious, was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother, Alice Tan Ridley, is a former special education teacher who gave up her career and became a street performer/singer, while her father, Ibnou Sidibe, is a cab driver. Her mother is African-American and her father is Senegalese...
 
34.
Jessica Lucas
Actress, Cloverfield
Jessica Lucas (born September 24, 1985[1]) is a Canadian actress and singer. She is known for her roles in television, such as Edgemont, Melrose Place, and Cult, and in the films The Covenant, Cloverfield and the 2013 Evil Dead. She also starred in the music video for Coldplay's 2014 single "True Love"...
 
35.
Yaya DaCosta
Actress, The Nice Guys
Yaya DaCosta was born and raised in New York City along with her sister and two brothers. She got her first acting gig at the age of eleven when her junior high school drama teacher, Ann Willis Ratray, encouraged her to audition for educational films. She continued to perform in school shows throughout high school and college and in 2005...
 
36.
Nicole Beharie
Actress, Shame
She made her feature film debut in the 2008 film American Violet,where she played the leading role. Also in the same year she played Sarah Ward in the American sports film, The Express opposite actor Rob Brown. In the Lifetime movie, Sins of the Mother (2010), Beharie portrayed Shay Hunter, a struggling...
 
37.
Lauren London
Lauren London first appeared in the film, ATL, opposite actor and recording artist, Tip "TI" Harris. Due to London's breakout success in ATL, she received an offer to star in the film, This Christmas, with Loretta Devine, Idris Elba and Regina King. Her next film role was in the teen romantic comedy...
 
38.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Actress, Concussion
Gugu Mbatha-Raw was born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, England. Her father, Patrick Mbatha, is a Black South African doctor, and her mother, Anne Raw, is a Caucasian English nurse. Her parents separated when she was a year old, and she was brought up by her mother in the town of Witney...
 
39.
Zoë Kravitz
Zoe Isabella Kravitz, the daughter of singer/actor Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, was born on December 1, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. She is of half African-American (from her father's mother and her mother's father) and half Ashkenazi Jewish (from her father's father and her mother's mother) descent...
 
41.
Octavia Spencer
Actress, The Help
Spencer is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, which she claims is the proverbial buckle of the Bible belt. She's the sixth of seven siblings and holds a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University. A "closet" lover of acting, this practical Alabamian knew that she'd someday work in the film industry, but never dreamed it would be in front of the camera...