Great Black Stars of past and present
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 (Lowe), from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University...
Keith David was born Keith David Williams in New York City's Harlem district, and was raised in East Elmhurst, in the Queens section of the city. He is the son of Dolores (Dickenson), a New York Telephone manager, and Lester Williams, a payroll operations director. As a child, he realized he wanted...
S. Epatha Merkerson
A native of Michigan, S. Epatha Merkerson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Wayne State University. In 1978, she moved to New York City to apply her craft on stage. Although best known since 1993 as the smart and shrewd Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long-running TV crime drama Law & Order
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
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. At the age of 8, her family moved to Pleasanton, California, where she grew up and attended high school. In high school...
“ Went from prison to Yale Drama School. ” - HawkHerald
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...
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...
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...
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...
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
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...
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...
Signifying intelligence, eloquence, versatility and quiet intensity, one of the more important, critically acclaimed black actors to gain a Hollywood foothold in the 1970s was Paul Winfield. Born in 1939 in Los Angeles, he lived there in his early years before moving with his family to Los Angeles' Watts district...
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 after being discovered on a New York City street by a casting director...
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
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...
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
“ Had a huge crush on her for a long time. ” - HawkHerald
Vanessa Lynn Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in entertainment today. She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, music videos, television and motion pictures. She has sold millions of albums worldwide and she has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television...
“ Beautiful, classy woman who could light up a room with her presence. ” - HawkHerald
Zoe Saldana was born on June 19, 1978 in Passaic, New Jersey, to Asalia Nazario and Aridio Saldaña. 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. While living in the Dominican Republic...
“ Dominican American ” - HawkHerald
Dania is a Latin American actress born in the Dominican Republic. She grew up, living with her grandmother, in a poor household. Her parents left for the United States, when she was 6-months old, and she finally joined them in New York when she was age 10. She knew from a young age that she wanted to act...
“ Dominican American ” - HawkHerald
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
“ His quality of work has gone down considerably but he was one of the coolest dudes to ever kick butt on screen. Passenger 57 and Blade are a must see if you're a fan of his. ” - HawkHerald
Often mentioned as the greatest player in NFL history, this ruggedly handsome African American fullback for the Cleveland Browns first appeared on movie screens in the western Rio Conchos
, followed by a strong supporting role as convict commando "Jefferson" in the terrific WW2 action film The Dirty Dozen
“ He's the funniest cast member of Mad TV, aside from David Herman, and done quite a bit of voice work and pops in a lot of film and television. ” - HawkHerald
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
Chiwetel Ejiofor is an English actor. He is known for his portrayal of Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things (2002), the Operative in Serenity (2005), Lola in Kinky Boots (2005), Luke in Children of Men (2006), Dr. Adrian Helmsley in 2012 (2009) and Dr. Vincent Kapoor in The Martian (2015). He played Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013)...
Jenifer Lewis was born and raised in Kinloch, Missouri. She holds a bachelor's degree in theater arts from Webster University in St. Louis. Jenifer has over 60 films and 200 TV appearances to her credit. Her uniquely recognizable voice is adored by fans, worldwide, in such animated roles as "Flo" in Cars
and Cars 2
and as "Mama Odie" in The Princess and the Frog
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...
Rob Brown was born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn, New York. A natural who never studied acting and who had no professional acting experience, made his acting and motion picture debut in Finding Forrester
. Rob celebrated his 16th birthday just before the start of production. He is a talented athlete in high school playing both basketball and football.
Classy, graceful, & intelligent, Salli Elise Richardson was born November 23, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois. Salli's acting career was first nurtured in the theater and, ever since, she has been on a non-stop journey to success. Her first feature performance was in 1991 as "Denise" in Up Against the Wall
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...
Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known as The Rock, was born on May 2, 1972 in Hayward, California, to Ata Johnson
(born Feagaimaleata Fitisemanu Maivia) and Canadian-born professional wrestler Rocky Johnson
. His father is black (of Black Nova Scotian descent), and his mother is of Samoan background (her own father was Peter Fanene Maivia
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...
Scatman Crothers was born Benjamin Sherman Crothers on May 23, 1910 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Songwriter ("Dearest One"), actor, composer, singer, comedian and guitarist who, after high school, appeared in nightclubs, hotels, films and on television. He made many records, including his own compositions...
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...
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...
Four time Grammy Award-winner Leonard Albert Kravitz was born on May 26, 1964 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, the only child of actress Roxie Roker
and Hollywood producer Sy Kravitz
. The family moved to California when Lenny was ten. His father was Jewish and his mother was of African-American and Afro-Bahamian ancestry...
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...
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., to Elizabeth (Montgomery) and Roy Henry Jackson. He was raised by his mother, a factory worker. Jackson was active in the black student movement. In the seventies, he joined the Negro Ensemble Company (together with Morgan Freeman
). In the eighties, he became well known after three movies made by Spike Lee
- Do the Right Thing
Carl Weathers was born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana. A famous and successful football star at San Diego State, he played with the Oakland Raiders and retired from the sport in 1974, in order to give full attention to his goal: to be a real actor. Weathers first played small parts in two blaxploitation flicks...
Phylicia Rashad was born in Houston, Texas, to African-American parents, Vivian Elizabeth (Ayers), a poet and art director, and Andrew Arthur Allen, an orthodontist. As a child, Phylicia, her older brother Andrew (called Tex), and younger sister, dancer and actress Debbie Allen
, lived in Mexico. She has another brother...
First known as a rapper who became one of the more prominent voices in hip-hop's new millennium renaissance, Common later transitioned into acting. He is the son of educator Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines and Lonnie Lynn, an ABA basketball player turned youth counselor. On October 6, 1992, Common released his first LP...
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
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...
As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest black theatre in the country...
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...
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
, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
, and Scandal
. He also writes and directs, and is a singer/songwriter.