Black Actresses

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1.
Amber Riley
Actress, Glee
 
2.
Phylicia Rashad
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...
 
4.
Janet Jackson
Janet Damita Jo Jackson was born on May 16, 1966 in Gary, Indiana, to Katherine Jackson (née Katherine Esther Scruse) and Joe Jackson, a musician. She is the youngest of ten children. After her birth, her brothers formed a band later called The Jackson 5. She lived at home with her sisters, while her brothers and father lived an extravagant life in Los Angeles...
 
5.
Mariah Carey
Soundtrack, Love Actually
Mariah Carey was born in Long Island, New York. She is the daughter of Patricia (Hickey), a singer and vocal coach, who is of Irish descent, and Alfred Roy Carey, an engineer, who was of Afro-Cuban ancestry. Mariah attended Greenlawn's Harborfields High School. In June of 1990, Mariah made her debut with "Mariah Carey" which entered at #73...
 
6.
Mo'Nique
Actress, Precious
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. ...
 
8.
Oprah Winfrey
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...
 
9.
Aisha Tyler
Actress, Archer
Aisha Tyler born September 18, 1970 is an American talk show host, actress, comedian, author, producer, writer, and director. She is known for portraying Andrea Marino in the first season of Ghost Whisperer, voicing Lana Kane in Archer, and portraying Mother Nature in the Santa Clause film series, as well as recurring roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Talk Soup.
 
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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...
 
13.
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...
 
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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...
 
16.
Debbi Morgan
Debbie Morgan was born September 20, 1956 in Dunn, North Carolina, to Lora and George Morgan, Jr., she moved to New York City when she was three months old. Debbie's earliest film role was in Cry Uncle . She played the role of Olga Winter. Her most memorable role was on the television series All My Children...
 
17.
Sherri Shepherd
Self, The View
Sherri Evonne Shepherd was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. When she was 11, her family moved to the suburb Hoffman Estates. Her father, Lawrence, was a food service manager at Sambos Restaurant and a church deacon, and her mother, LaVerne, cleaned homes. Sherri started her stand-up career in 1990 while working in Beverly Hills as a legal secretary...
 
19.
Tamera Mowry-Housley
Self, The Real
Tamera Darvette Mowry was born on July 6, 1978, two minutes before her twin sister, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, in Gelnhausen, Hesse, Germany to Darlene Mowry and Timothy Mowry, who was in the U.S. Army at the time of her birth and later became a custody officer/jailer with the City of Glendale Police Department...
 
21.
Anika Noni Rose
Anika Noni Rose followed her work in the feature film "Dreamgirls" with a role in the comedy feature "Just Add Water," in which she co-stars with Danny DeVito, Dylan Walsh, Jonah Hill and Justin Long, under the direction of Hart Bochner. In 2004, Rose was honored with a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in the widely acclaimed Broadway show "Caroline...
 
22.
Ester Dean
Actress, Rio
Ester Renay Dean is an American Actress and Songwriter Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The youngest of five raised by single mother, in a low-income household. Ester took to writing and singing more as a passage for escape and exit from the dysfunctional childhood full of bullying inside and outside the home...
 
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.
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...
 
25.
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...
 
31.
Tina Turner
Soundtrack, GoldenEye
After almost fifty years in the music business, Tina Turner has become one of the most commercially-successful international female rock stars to date. Her sultry, powerful voice, her incredible legs, her time-tested beauty and her unforgettable story all contribute to her legendary status. Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush...
 
32.
Mary J. Blige
Soundtrack, The Help
 
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35.
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")...
 
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Debbie Allen
Deborah Kaye Allen 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, Debbie, her older brother, Andrew (called Tex), and her older sister, actress Phylicia Rashad, lived in Mexico to escape US racism...
 
38.
Vanessa Williams
Actress, Eraser
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"...
 
39.
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...
 
40.
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...
 
41.
Regina Hall
Actress, Scary Movie 4
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...
 
42.
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...
 
43.
Leslie Silva
Born in Schenectady, New York, Leslie Silva was raised primarily in Saratoga, New York, but also lived in Connecticut, Iowa and Georgia, moving frequently because her father worked as a nuclear engineer. She attended the University of Connecticut at Storrs, and received a BFA from the School of Drama there, and an MFA from the Juilliard School in New York...
 
44.
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...
 
45.
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...
 
46.
Jenifer Lewis
Jenifer Lewis Jenifer Lewis is one of Hollywood's most familiar faces, with more than 300 appearances in film and television. Dubbed a "national treasure" by TV Guide.com, Jenifer currently stars on the hit show Black-ish (ABC), where her hilarious portrayal of "Ruby Johnson" earned her a nomination for the 2016 Critics Choice Award...
 
47.
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...
 
48.
Jill Scott
Born in 1972 in North Philadelphia, Jill Scott grew up in the ghetto with her mother, Joyce, and grandmother. A deeply loved and gifted child, she learned to talk at only eight months and was reading by age four. Always the center of attention, her principal in elementary school described her as a little butterfly...
 
49.
Robin Givens
Robin Simone Givens was born in New York City on 27th of November, 1964, to Ruth (Newby) and Reuben Givens. Robin's father left his family when Robin was a young girl and she seldom saw him after that. Robin's mother raised her and her younger sister in Westchester, CT. Her mother (once linked to Yankee...
 
50.
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...
 
51.
Tangi Miller
Actress, Felicity
Tangi Miller was born and raised in Miami, Florida. The oldest of six children, Tangi acted in stage productions while in high school. After graduating, she attended Alabama State University, majoring in marketing. After her graduation, she realized she spent all of her free time acting, so she decided to pursue that talent...
 
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Della Reese
Della began singing in her hometown of Detroit when she was 6 years old. As a teenager, she toured with gospel great Mahalia Jackson and, at the age of 18, she formed the Meditation Singers and became the first performer to take gospel music to the casinos of Las Vegas. She was a vocalist with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra and began making her own records...
 
55.
Rochelle Aytes
Rochelle Aytes was born in New York City. She attended LaGuardia High School and graduated with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Dance from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory for Dance in 1998. She is best-known for her role in White Chicks as Denise Porter; her role in Left 4 Dead 2 as a news producer; and more recently in the TV series The Forgotten as Detective Grace Russell...
 
56.
Margaret Avery
Slender, attractive actress Margaret Avery, spellbinding in her role of Shug in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, is certainly no "one-hit wonder". Although filmgoers may be able to trace her back only to that once-in-a-lifetime part, Margaret has been a talented player on the large and small screens for well over three decades...
 
57.
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...
 
58.
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...
 
59.
Sharon Leal
Actress, Dreamgirls
Sharon Leal is a military brat. She was born in Tuscon, Arizona. Sharon then moved with her parents to the Philippines, till she was 6 years old. She went to prayer-school there. Then, her parents packed up to move back to the US and settled in Fresno, California. Her mother, Angelita, who is Filipino...
 
60.
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...
 
61.
Jennifer Beals
Actress, The L Word
Jennifer Beals was born in December 1963 in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in the city. With a life-long desire for acting, Beals first appeared in small high school plays and even got an uncredited bit part in My Bodyguard in 1980. After graduation, she enrolled in college at Yale University, studying American literature...
 
62.
CCH Pounder
Actress, Avatar
CCH Pounder (the CCH standing for Carol Christine Hilaria, her birth name). As can be said of other similarly styled actresses such as Alfre Woodard and Cicely Tyson, most of Pounder's characters are enriched with these same positive attributes and it is a testament to this actress' abilities that she continues on such a high plane in a nearly three-decade career...
 
63.
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...
 
64.
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...
 
65.
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...
 
67.
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...
 
68.
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...
 
69.
Raven-Symoné
Self, The View
Raven-Symoné Pearman was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Lydia (Gaulden) and Christopher Pearman. At a young age, she moved to New York. While there Raven signed with the Ford Modeling Agency. They sent her out on a audition for a movie called Ghost Dad, which also starred the legendary Bill Cosby...
 
70.
Chandra Wilson
Houston, Texas native Chandra Wilson began performing in musicals at the age of five with Theatre Under the Stars. She attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and later went on to acquire her BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts through which she spent four years at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute...
 
72.
Keke Palmer
Actress, Grease Live!
Keke Palmer was born Lauren Keyana Palmer in Robbins, Illinois--a small town 20 miles south of Chicago-- to Sharon and Larry Palmer, both former actors. Palmer showed vocal promise as a five-year-old, when she belted out "Jesus Loves Me" in her church choir. A year later the singer-actress had a solo in her kindergarten play but...