My list of African American Male Actors who inspire me

by RoyWileyJr | created - 13 Jul 2011 | updated - 19 Jul 2011 | Public

1. Will Smith

Music_department | The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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 ...

2. Don Cheadle

Actor | Crash

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...

3. Idris Elba

Actor | Beasts of No Nation

An only child, Idrissa Akuna Elba was born and raised in London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at Ford Dagenham; his mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting, before he dropped...

4. Morgan Freeman

Actor | Se7en

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...

5. Laurence Fishburne

Actor | The Matrix

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 ...

6. Denzel Washington

Actor | Fences

Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...

7. Clarence Williams III

Actor | The General's Daughter

As the son of a displaced musician, Harlem-born African-American actor Clarence Williams III was raised by his musical grandparents, the legendary jazz and boogie-woogie composer/pianist Clarence Williams, who wrote such classics as "T'Aint Nobody's Business If I Do" and "Baby, Won't You Please ...

8. Chi McBride

Actor | I, Robot

Chi McBride was born on September 23, 1961 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Kenneth McBride. He is an actor and producer, known for I, Robot (2004), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) and The Terminal (2004).

9. Forest Whitaker

Actor | The Last King of Scotland

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 (2006), and has also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He is the fourth African-American ...

10. Samuel L. Jackson

Actor | Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson is an American producer and highly prolific actor, having appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Unbreakable (2000), Shaft (2000), Formula 51 (2001), Black Snake Moan (2006), Snakes on a Plane (2006), and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), ...

11. Dorian Missick

Actor | Southland

Dorian Missick was born on January 15, 1976 in East Orange, New Jersey, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Southland (2009), Lucky Number Slevin (2006) and Big Words (2013). He has been married to Simone Missick since February 19, 2012.

12. Terrence Howard

Actor | Hustle & Flow

Terrence Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Anita Jeanine Williams (née Hawkins) and Tyrone Howard. He was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His love for acting came naturally, through summers spent with his great-grandmother, New York stage actress Minnie Gentry. He later began his acting career ...

13. Mario Van Peebles

Actor | Heartbreak Ridge

Mario Van Peebles is a highly regarded director, actor, producer and writer. His directorial skills can be seen in the retelling of the epic mini-series "Roots" starring Forest Whitaker and Matthew Goode. Van Pebbles has directed award-winning shows such as the recent hit "Empire" and "The Last ...

14. Jeffrey Wright

Actor | Broken Flowers

Quite possibly the most underrated and underexposed actor of his caliber and generation, Jeffrey Wright's undeniable talent and ability to successfully bring to life any role he undertakes is on a par with the most praised and revered A-list actors in the business. Born and raised in Washington DC,...

15. Blair Underwood

Actor | Rules of Engagement

Smart, confident, eloquent, exceptionally handsome African-American actor Blair Underwood was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1964, the son of Marilyn Ann, an interior decorator, and Frank Eugene Underwood, Sr., an army colonel. With his family, he lived all over the world. Trained in musical theater...

16. Ving Rhames

Actor | Pulp Fiction

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 ...

17. Taye Diggs

Actor | Chicago

Taye Diggs was born in Newark, New Jersey, and was raised in Rochester, New York. He is the son of Marcia (Berry), a teacher and actress, and Andre Young, a visual artist. When he was a child, his mother married Jeffries Diggs, whose surname Taye took. He received a BFA degree in musical theater ...

18. Morris Chestnut

Actor | Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

A tall, handsome, and versatile American actor, Morris Chestnut was born in Cerritos, California, to Shirley (Wynn) and Morris Chestnut, Sr. He first came to be recognized by moviegoers starring as Ricky in Boyz n the Hood (1991), a role where he played a high school running back using his football...

19. Chiwetel Ejiofor

Actor | 12 Years a Slave

English actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is renowned for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013), for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. He is also known for playing Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things (2002), the ...

20. Cuba Gooding Jr.

Actor | Jerry Maguire

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 ...

21. Omar Epps

Actor | House M.D.

Omar Epps is an American actor, starring on the ABC drama Resurrection (2014).

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 ...

22. Mekhi Phifer

Actor | ER

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's Clockers (1995) and was selected for the leading role. Working alongside Harvey Keitel and Delroy ...

23. LL Cool J

Actor | Deep Blue Sea

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...

24. Jamie Foxx

Actor | Django Unchained

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 biographical film Ray (2004). The same year, he was nominated for the Academy...

25. Richard T. Jones

Actor | Event Horizon

Richard T. Jones was born on January 16, 1972 in Japan as Richard Timothy Jones. He is an actor and producer, known for Event Horizon (1997), Vantage Point (2008) and Phone Booth (2002). He has been married to Nancy Jones since October 1996.

26. Michael Ealy

Actor | Barbershop

Known for his charming looks and deep personality, Michael Ealy blessed the movie screen with his role in Barbershop (2002). When he left Silver Spring, Maryland, with a degree in English, he headed off to New York. From there he performed in several stage productions, including the Off-Broadway ...

27. Joe Morton

Actor | Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Joe Morton was born on October 18, 1947 in New York, New York, USA. He is a television, film, and theater actor, best known for The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Terminator 2 (1991), Eureka (2006), and Scandal (2012). He also writes and directs, and is a singer/songwriter.

28. Wood Harris

Actor | Remember the Titans

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, ...

29. Peter Mensah

Actor | Jason X

Peter Mensah has been doing martial arts since he was 6 years old, growing up in St. Albans, England, just north of London. A former engineer, Mensah came to Canada 11 years ago. He'd worked for British Gas developing gas fields at Morecambe Bay and had done theatre in school. He comes from an ...

30. Bill Nunn

Actor | Spider-Man

Commanding performer Bill Nunn made his feature debut in fellow Morehouse College graduate Spike Lee's School Daze (1988), but really etched himself into moviegoers' minds as a formidable screen presence in his second film with Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989), playing Radio Raheem, whose ...

31. Delroy Lindo

Actor | Get Shorty

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 (1992) is what first attracted attention to Lindo's ...

32. Isaiah Washington

Actor | Grey's Anatomy

Isaiah Washington was born on August 3, 1963 in Houston, Texas, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Grey's Anatomy (2005), Exit Wounds (2001) and Hollywood Homicide (2003). He has been married to Jenisa Marie Garland since February 14, 1999. They have three children.

33. Michael Clarke Duncan

Actor | The Green Mile

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 ...

34. Danny Glover

Actor | Lethal Weapon

Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years.

Glover was born in San Francisco, California, to Carrie (Hunley) and James Glover, postal workers who were also active in civil rights.

Glover trained at the Black ...

35. James Pickens Jr.

Actor | Grey's Anatomy

James Pickens Jr. was born October 26, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. While attending college at Bowling Green State University, Pickens began pursuing an interest in acting. He graduated from BGSU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1976. Afterwards, Pickens began work on the stage at the Roundabout Theatre...

36. Larenz Tate

Actor | Crash

Larenz Tate was born on the west side of Chicago to Larry and Peggy Tate, the youngest of three brothers. His brothers are actors Larron Tate and Lahmard J. Tate. In 1984, Larenz and his family moved to California. It was while living in California that Larenz's parents got him and his brothers ...