America has always been one of the most diverse place, be it for musicians , sportsperson, or actors. Hollywood has become such a huge platform where legends like Will Smith and Morgan Freeman have able to hold a prestigious position that is known to the world. Reports suggests that around 14 percent of Black actors are part of Hollywood industry. It is also estimated that they are overly presented with most of them having lead roles in Hollywood cinemas. Thus, it would be interesting to identify the 50 black american actors who are part of most popular film industry like Hollywood.
Top 50 Black American Actors
1. Denzel Washington
He is the leading American black actors widely known for configuring the concepts of ‘Stardom’, a popular classic movie. Over his career of four decades, he has been an American actor, Director, and a Producer. He is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Golden Globe and Tony Award. His name recently appeared in the New York Times as the greatest actor of the 21st Century.
2. Forest Whitaker
As an American actor, he made his professional debut playing for Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982. He is associated with major Hollywood films like the Bird, The Crying Game, and Rogue One among others. Besides acting, he is also interested in contributing to the society through his humanitarian works. He is one of the top black american actors who has become a global hero as an actor as a human activist.
3. Morgan Freeman
He is one of the veterans in the Hollywood industry, a well-known actor, producer, narrator, and Director best known for his films like Driving Miss Daisy and Million Dollar Baby. Most importantly, he received an Oscar for playing Nelson Mandela in the popular Invictus. He is the founder of the Film Production company ‘Revelations Entertainment’ and is the owner of restaurants and clubs.
4. Cuba Gooding Jr.
As a struggling American actor, he made a major breakthrough in ‘Boyz and the hood’. He did his first job as an entertainer, notably in the Summer Olympics of 1984. He also studied martial arts after which he began to appear for minor roles in Hollywood films nad TV series. His success is very much shaped by films like Gladiator and Lightning Jack.
5. Will Smith
Who would not wish to know him more closely as he is one of the most versatile and a leading black american actors. He is nown as Fresh Prince in the industry. He started his acting career playing a minor role in the popular NBC’s sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’. As of the recent data, his films has grossed over 9 billion globally making him not only one of the top black american actors but also one of the richest actors.
6. Mekhi Phifer
He is an black american actor who has appeared alongside Eminem in his popular film ‘8 Mile’. He attended an audition in his 18th year after which he gained a major role in NBC’s medical Drama ‘ER’. He is the winner of the Celebrity Poker Showdown Championship in 2004. Some of his notable films include A day in the life, Divergent, and the Suspect.
7. Laurence Fishburne
He is one of the top 50 black american actors popular for his authoritative personality in the films. Some of his most notable films includes Matrix Series, Man of Steel, and the popular TV drama ‘ CSI’. He is the recipient of prestigious Golden Globe, Emmy, and Academy Awards.
8. Wesley Snipes
He is a 60 years old American actor and film producer best known for his films like The Expendables 3 and the Water dance. He is the recipient of prestigious wards like the Independent Spirit Award and Hollywood Walk of Fame Awards. He was accused and convicted for income tax defaults and frauds. Besides, he is a popular martial artist who began to train at the age of 12 years.
9. Danny Glover
At the age of 76, he is still recognized as one of the top black american actors. Besides being an actor, he is a film producer and a popular political and civil rights activists who is associated with Black Students’ Union. He has also supported the cause for United Farm Workers. He has also become an active member of the popular Musical group, The Jazz Foundation of America.
10. Samuel Jackson
He is recognized as one of the popular American actors of his generation. Each of his films has grossed over 27 billion dollar worldwide. He is behind Stan Lee in terms of Grossing ratio of the films. He only came to limelight after having played roles in films like Coming to America, True Romance, and Jurassic Park. He is also recognized for his dominating actions in Marvel series.
11. Lamie Foxx
He is the man who played villains in popular Spiderman series and has hosted and produced the Fox Game show ‘Beat Shazam’. Less is more when discussing of this most talented and highly recognized American actors, the recipient of global prestigious wards like Grammy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA. As a social activist, he has been the ambassador for Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
12. Larenz Tate
He was first taken by his parents to a City Cultural Center after which he started showing concerns for acting and got to play minor roles ‘in ‘The New Twilight Zone’. His first professional debut was with the ‘New Twilight Zone’.
13. Don Cheadle
He is a 57 year old black american actor best known for his appearance in films like Rosewood and Boggie Nights in the late 1990s. Besides being an actor, he produces films and is a political activist who once campaigned for the cause of ending genocide in Sudan. He has founded an NGO along with the help of personalities like Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
14. Eddie Murphy
He is one of the 50 black american actor who rose to fame while appearing for the comedy show ‘Saturday Night Live’. He is also a writer, producer, and singer and is still ranked as top 10 comedian on the Comedy Central’s List. Some of his most notable films include Sequel and Vampire in Brooklyn.
15. Sidney Poitier
Although, he is not with us, he is still recognized as one of the top 50 black american actors who remained in the American film industry for about 4 decades. He was the first black actor to receive the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actor. His name is also associated with the Golden Hollywood age which prevailed during his time. He has appeared on some major films like The Heat of the Night and Shoot to Kill.
16. Bill Dee Williams
He is a popular guy for the Star Wars Franchise as he appeared in many of their series. Besides being an actor, he is a painter, author, and an internet celebrity known for his association with Mock Political advertisement. After making a debut in The Last Angry Man, he began to appear in films like Lady Sings the blue and Batman.
17. Michael Clarke Duncan
He is one of the top 50 black american actors who received the prestigious Academy Awards for his appearance in films like Daredevil, Spiderman, and The Green Mile. He also did a voice-over for animated films like Kung Fu Panda and for the video game ‘Saints Row’.
18. Terrene Howard
He is none other than the man behind popular movies like Iron Man and Empire. He recently appeared in the news, mainly covered by Guardian for developing hydrogen-based tech for the defense force in Uganda. Besides, he is a legendary black american actors who is associated with popular films like the Four Brothers, Crash, and Prisoners.
19. Clifton Powell
At the age of 65, he is globally recognized as one of the top black american actors who has in his name accolades like NAACP and Golden Globe. For the gamers, he is the ‘Big Smoke’ often creating havoc in the video game ‘GTA: San Andreas’. Some of his notable films include Rush Hour, Next Friday, and Ray.
20. Bill Cosby
Beginning his career as a stand-up comedian, he began to work in TV Crime shows like I Spy and famous sitcom the Billy Cosby Show. Later, he produced and hosted comedy shows, most significantly, the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. After years of fame and name, his
21. Yasilin Bey
He is an American actor, rapper, songwriter associated with the Urban Thermo Dynamics, a small rap group. Before becoming a musician, he was a child artists or an actor who appeared in various TV shows and sitcoms. He made his professional debut in the early 2000s in films like The Italian Job and the Dexter. He was listed as one of the top 50 greatest rappers of all time.
22. Djimon Hounsou
He is one of the 50 black american actors and a model popular for his hit films like Gladiator, Fast and Furious 7, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Initially after completing modelling training, he began to appear in the music videos after which he got a minor role in the film ‘Without Toy I’m Nothing’. He was also featured as the narrator for the ESPN’s series in 2010.
23. Blair Underwood
He is no other than the very own Attorney Johnathan Rollins in the legal series L.A. Law. He has appeared in popular Hollywood films like Deep Impact, Dirty Sexy Money, and Quantico. He is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Emmy.
24. Ving Rhames
He is the most-loved actor who has appeared in Mission: Impossible series as IMF agent. He was given the nickname ‘Ving’ after attending the music school at SUNY Purchase. He made his debut with the film titled ‘Native Son’ after which he played major films like Undisputed and ‘Piranha 3D’.
25. Martin Lawrence
Before coming to limelight as an American actor, he was a popular comedian who was recognized by teh famous comedian Ritcher Synder. Accordingly, he found his way to the popular American comedy club after which he was offered the role in ‘What’s happening now’, a Colombian Pictures shows. One of his most successful films is the Bad boys for life which was grossed at more than 112 million only within the first four days of its release.
26. Wood Harris
He is one of the top black american actors popular for his appearance in HBO’s crime drama like The Wire and Remember the Titans. He holds Bachelor’s degree as well as master’s degree in theatres arts. He has appeared in one of the most popular musical film Hendrix appearing alongside the legendary guitarist Jimmy Hendrix.
27. Charles S. Dutton
He is one of the top 50 black american actors who received the most prestigious Golden Globe for his role in the TV series ‘The Piano Lesson’. He has appeared in some of the prominent films that includes Gothika, Rudy, and Alien 3. He was sentenced to five years of prison for the offence of man slaughtering in 1967. He was also a popular boxer for a very brief period.
28. Harold Perrineau
After attending the American Dance theater, he started appearing in the most popular film of 1980 ‘Fame’. Then he worked for the Marix series starring as Link for two seasons. He also had a brief musical career beginning from the year 2007 where he released his first single in the same year. He has also appeared in popular video games ‘Enter the Matrix.
29. Louis Gossett Jr.
He is one of the top American Black actors well-known for his award winning film ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’. He had the acting career for over 50 years during which he played prominent roles in films like Punisher, The Deep, and the Iron Eagle Series. He was initially selected by the Broadway part audition’s group for which he got to work for one fo the top 10 best shows ‘Take a giant step’.
30. Ron O’ Neal
He was a versatile American actor and Director who is still known as one of the top black american actors. Some of his prominent films include Superfly, Brave New World, and The Equalizer. In his name exists a song for the album ‘A Better Tomorrow’. He was last seen appearing for the ‘On the Edge’ in 2002.
31. Idris Elba
It was expected that this American black actor will be the next James Bond. He is popular as a Musician, producer, and is a kick boxer known for his documentary ‘Idris Elba: Fighter‘. He has been featured by prominent TV channels like Discovery and BBC. Some of his major films include American Gangster, Prometheus, and also appeared in Marvel’s popular series, Thor and Avengers.
32. Morris Chestnut
He is an American actor who came to limelight after appearing in Boyz and the Hood in 1991. He is also associated with TV series like the NBC’s ‘The Enemy Within’.
33. Ice Cube
This man is not just the versatile and best American actor, but responsible for helping Gangsta develop in American scene. He is associated with rap associations like N.W.A and C.I.A. He made his debut in Hollywood film industry playing the role of a doughboy in Boyz and the Hood in 1991. He is also associated with major action and thrilling films like Torque three kings, and Ride Along.
34. Richard Pryor
Although, he is no more among his audience, he is known as the legendary stand-up comedian and best Hollywood actor. His influential story telling and narration helped him bag prestigious awards like the Prime Time Emmy and Grammy. He has produced a feature film on his own name ‘Richard Pryor: Here and Now’. He will be listed as one of the top 50 black american actors.
He is referred to as Ice-T because he dedicated his life after his worse experience in the national Army towards music for spreading peace. He is a popular and frequently appearing American actor, rapper, songwriter, and producer. He is associated with heavy metal band ‘Body Count’ He was first portrayed as rapper in Breaking and entering in 1983 after which he got major roles in New Jack city and Surviving the Game.
36. Marlon Wayans
An American comedian, actor, and film producer, he is well-known for his foolish acts in Scary Movie 1 and 2. He initially appeared in Warner Bros feature Sitcom and later got a major role in Batman Forever. He has worked with various LA-based media organization to start his YouTube Channel and has recently signed with HBO.
37. Taye Diggs
He is an American actor. known for his appearance in the Broadway musicals Rent , Private Practice and All American, and the films like ‘The Best Man Holiday’. He is mostly associated with TV series and reality shows such as America’s Next Top Model. One should not miss his supporting role in Grey’s Anatomy. He is one of the top 50 black american actors who have been awarded with prestigious awards like the NAACP Image Awards.
38. Omar Epps
He is the recipient of Teen Awards, MTV, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, an American actor, film producer, and rapper. He is well-known for his appearance in medical dram ‘House’. He made his debut with Tupac Shakur in the film ‘Juice’. He has also written an autobiography titled ‘Fatherless to Fatherhood’. Moreover, he is also with Represent US, an NGO dedicated towards passing anti-corruption laws in US.
39. Boris Kodjoe
He is one of the top black american actors, a former model, and a talented producer. He is best known for his films like Brown Sugar and Last Man on Earth.
40. Harry Belafonte
He is widely popular as a Jamaican- American pop singer and is an actor and a popular social activist. He was a close confederates of the famous Marther Luther King Jr. for which he is associated with various social rights movements. He made his debut in the Hollywood film industry with Bright Road in 1953. He has worked and sung in the films like Carmen Jones. Besides, he has also produced several films and owns a film production company ‘HarBel Productions’. He is the recipient of Grammy and BAFTA Awards among others.
41. Tyrese Gibson
He is one of the most popular face and voice in America, a singer and an actor best known for his film Four Brothers. He has worked for major Hollywood franchise like the Fast and Furious and Transformers. He recently appeared in the thriller movie Moribus which is one of the top-rated films in Netflix recently.
42. Shad Moss
He is one of the youngest American actors and a popular rapper known by the name ‘Bow Wow’. His filming career began in 2002 when he starred for ‘All about the Benjamins’. Later, he started to get lead roles in major films like Roll Bounce as well as in Fast and Furious- Tokyo Drift. His best-selling songs and feature films has made him one of the top 50 black american actors.
43. Mike Epps
He is the funniest man behind two seasons of Hangover, one of the funniest and popular Hollywood films. Beside being an actor, he is a good TV presenter and a host. Before appearing in the film industry, he was a stand-up comedian who began with HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. He made his film debut with Strays after which he got the opportunity to star in films like Resident Evil
44. James Earl Jones
He is one of the oldest and one among top 50 American actors with over 6 decades of experience in the American and other film industries. He is characterized as versatile and distinguished American actors. Besides, he is also known for his authoritative voice which brought him prestigious Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar Awards. He has also served in the US Army and is an excellent poet. some of his notable films include Dr. Strange Love, Conan the Barbarian, and the Lion King.
45. Keith David
He is one of the best actors in America who is widely known for his role in the Chronicles of Riddick. His signature deep voice and personality has helped him achieve greater success and for which he won the prestigious Emmy Award. He also narrated most-watched documentaries like Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land and Crescent and the Cross.
46. Tupac Sakur
Widely known as an American rapper is also a film actor and one of the best-selling music artists in the world. He is a philanthropist as he has supported the ideal of equality and related movement through his songs and campaigns. He is well-known for his very limited films like the Poetic Justice and Bullet. Rolling Stone credited him with the title ‘one of the 100 greatest artist of all time.
47. Mario Van Pebbles
He is one of the top 50 black american actors, a film directors, and writer who is well-known for his major works like New Jack City and Exterminator 2. He has tried too many film genres such as comedy, romance, urban, and thriller. His first film was premiered in the Sundance Film Festival. He has also supported various social cause like the controversial Colombia statehood movement.
48. Fred Williamson
He is a popular American actor, Directors, Producer, and a former football player known by his nickname ‘Hammer’. He is also associated with Playgirl’s Magazine for posing naked. He initially started with the TV shows such as the popular Star Trek’s Cloud Minders. Some of his notable films include Police Story, Knight Rider, and Black Cobra 2.
49. Kevin Hart
Who does not know the funniest man ever saw on Hollywood films. He is a comedian and an actor best known for popular films like Scary Movie, Central Intelligence, and the most recent film ‘Me Time’. His name has also appeared in Times Magazines’ Top 100 Influential people in the world. He started his acting career as a comedian as he was a stand-up comedian where he was able to earn over $15 million for a single comedy tour. He is and will always be one of the top American black actors.
50. Spike Lee
He is a popular and very experienced American actor, Director, screenwriter, and film producer known for his popular films Malcolm X and Inside Man. He has portrayed the history of black community and their exploitations in most of the films for which he has received prestigious Academy and BAFTA Awards among others. He has also directed several commercial for brands like Nike and Converse.
We would like to thank you for taking the time to read our blog about black American actors. There are many black actors from the past that have made a lasting impact on our society and on the way we see ourselves. So many people were inspired by them and continue to be inspired to this day.
Also read – Top 50 Black American Actress