Great African American Actors

by MovieBuff720 | created - 22 Oct 2011 | updated - 22 Oct 2011 | Public

this list is not in any order

1. 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 ...

2. 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 ...

3. 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 ...

4. Sidney Poitier

Actor | In the Heat of the Night

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 ...

5. 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...

6. 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), ...

7. 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...

8. 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 ...

9. Eddie Murphy

Actor | The Nutty Professor

Edward Regan Murphy was born April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, to Lillian (Laney), 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...

10. Martin Lawrence

Actor | Martin

Martin Lawrence was born on April 16, 1965 in Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany as Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence. He is an actor and writer, known for Martin (1992), Bad Boys II (2003) and Bad Boys (1995). He has been married to Shamicka Gibbs since July 10, 2010. They have two children. He was ...

11. Chris Tucker

Actor | Rush Hour 2

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 ...

12. 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...

13. 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 ...

14. 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 ...

15. 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 ...

16. Djimon Hounsou

Actor | Blood Diamond

Djimon Hounsou was born in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa, to Albertine and Pierre Hounsou, a cook. He moved to Lyon, France, when he was 13. Hounsou has graced the catwalks of Paris and London as a popular male model. He has since left his modeling career and has worked on Gladiator (2000) by Ridley ...

17. John Amos

Actor | Die Hard 2

A native of New Jersey and son of a mechanic, African-American John Amos has relied on his imposing build, eruptive nature and strong, forceful looks to obtain acting jobs, and a serious desire for better roles to earn a satisfying place in the annals of film and TV. He has found it a constant ...

18. Keith David

Actor | The Princess and the Frog

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...

19. Anthony Mackie

Actor | The Hurt Locker

Anthony Mackie is an American actor. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Martha (Gordon) and Willie Mackie, Sr., who owned a business, Mackie Roofing. Anthony has been featured in feature films, television series and Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, including Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, ...

20. 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 ...

21. 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 ...

22. Wesley Snipes

Actor | Blade

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 ...

23. Bill Cosby

Actor | The Cosby Show

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...

24. Dwayne Johnson

Actor | Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

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 (born Wayde Douglas Bowles). His father is black (of Black Nova Scotian descent), and his ...

25. Mike Epps

Actor | Resident Evil: Extinction

Mike Epps was born on November 18, 1970 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA as Michael Elliot Epps. He is an actor and producer, known for Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), The Hangover (2009) and Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004). He was previously married to Mechelle McCain (I).

26. 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...

27. Ice Cube

Soundtrack | Friday

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 ...

28. James Earl Jones

Actor | Rogue One

James Earl Jones was born on January 17, 1931 in Arkabutla, Mississippi, USA. At an early age, he started to take dramatic lessons to calm himself down. It appeared to work as he has since starred in many films over a 40-year period, beginning with the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove or: ...

29. 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...

30. Terry Crews

Actor | Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

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 ...

31. Chris Rock

Actor | Top Five

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.

...

32. Tracy Morgan

Actor | 30 Rock

Tracy Morgan was born on November 10, 1968 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA as Tracy Jamal Morgan. He is an actor and producer, known for 30 Rock (2006), Cop Out (2010) and The Boxtrolls (2014). He has been married to Megan Wollover since August 23, 2015. They have one child. He was ...

33. Marlon Wayans

Actor | White Chicks

Marlon Wayans was born on July 23, 1972 in New York City, New York, USA as Marlon L. Wayans. He is an actor and writer, known for White Chicks (2004), Littleman (2006) and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009). He is married to Angelica Zackary. They have two children.

34. Shawn Wayans

Actor | White Chicks

Shawn Wayans was born on January 19, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Shawn M. Wayans. He is an actor and writer, known for White Chicks (2004), Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996) and Littleman (2006).

35. Richard Pryor

Actor | Superman III

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 ...

36. Anthony Anderson

Actor | The Departed

Anthony Anderson was born on August 15, 1970 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for The Departed (2006), Kangaroo Jack (2003) and Transformers (2007). He has been married to Alvina Renee Stewart since September 11, 1999. They have two children.

37. Kevin Hart

Actor | Ride Along

Kevin Hart was born on July 6, 1979 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Ride Along (2014), Central Intelligence (2016) and Grudge Match (2013). He has been married to Eniko Parrish since August 13, 2016. They have one child. He was previously married to Torrei...

38. Tony Todd

Actor | Candyman

Perhaps best known for his chilling performance as "Candyman", the charismatic 6' 5" actor Tony Todd has consistently turned in compelling performances since his debut in the fantasy film Sleepwalk (1986). Born in Washington, D.C., Todd spent two years on a scholarship at the University of ...

39. 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...

40. Bernie Mac

Actor | The Bernie Mac Show

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 ...

41. Cedric the Entertainer

Actor | Barbershop

Cedric the Entertainer was born on April 24, 1964 in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA as Cedric Antonio Kyles. He is an actor and writer, known for Barbershop (2002), Be Cool (2005) and Larry Crowne (2011). He has been married to Lorna Wells since September 3, 1999. They have two children.

42. Tyler Perry

Writer | Diary of a Mad Black Woman

Perry was born and raised in New Orleans, to Willie Maxine (Campbell) and Emmitt Perry, Sr. His mother was a church-goer and took Perry along with her once a week. His father was a carpenter and they had a very strained and abusive relationship, which led Perry to suffer from depression as a ...