Famous African American Actors Who Need To Be Applauded For Their Talent

Hollywood has produced many actors, some of whom are considered institutions in acting. Although the movie industry predominantly consisted of fair-skinned actors in the past, the recent years have seen the rise of many actors of African American descent. Many of these talented individuals have won the prestigious Golden Globe and Academy Awards for their impeccable performances. Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Samuel L Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and Jamie Fox are a few actors whom the world really adores. Samuel L Jackson’s portrayal of the character Jules, in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic ‘Pulp Fiction’, was a treat to movie lovers and critics alike. Since then, the acclaimed actor has essayed memorable roles in several Hollywood blockbusters. Many movie buffs claim that Morgan Freeman’s epic voiceovers in the 1994 classic ‘Shawshank Redemption’ is an important reason why it is one of the world’s most loved films. Be it the role of a struggling father in ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ or an arrogant superhero in ‘Hancock’, Hollywood star Will Smith has proved that he can play just any character effortlessly. Many movie gurus are of the opinion that aspiring actors should watch the works of these actors to get better at their craft. If you aren’t aware of other eminent African American actors, you should probably scroll the list to know the names of the people who have made their community proud. It’s time we watch their films and appreciate their talent.
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 1 
Ice Cube
(Rapper - Contributed Significantly to the Development of 'Gangsta Rap')
Ice Cube
101
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: June 15, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Crenshaw, California, United States

Ice Cube played an important role in contributing to gangsta rap's popularity. His lyrics for N.W.A's album Straight Outta Compton redrew boundaries and shaped West Coast rap's identity. Because of his lyrics, that explain black nationalism and black struggle, Ice Cube went on to influence a host of rappers and is considered one of the greatest rappers ever.

 2 
Jamie Foxx
(Best Known for His Portrayal of Ray Charles in the Biopic 'Ray')
Jamie Foxx
65
Birthdate: December 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Terrell, Texas, United States

Actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian, Jamie Foxx became internationally famous for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray, a role that earned him an Academy Award. He is also known for hosting his own television sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show. Besides acting, he is also a Grammy Award-winning musician who has released four albums.

 3 
James Earl Jones
(One of the Greatest Actors in American History)
James Earl Jones
55
Birthdate: January 17, 1931
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Arkabutla, Mississippi, United States

A veteran actor with a career spanning more than seven decades, James Earl Jones has been described as "one of America's most distinguished and versatile" actors. He initially aspired to be a doctor but fate had other plans for him. He began his career as a stage actor and soon joined films as well.

 4 
Chris Rock
(Ranked No. 5 on Rolling Stone's List of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time)
Chris Rock
87
Birthdate: February 7, 1965
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Andrews, South Carolina, United States

A high-school drop-out, Chris Rock worked at restaurants before stepping into stand-up comedy. He gained fame with SNL and earned his first role through Eddie Murphy. Known for voicing Marty in the Madagascar franchise, Chris also created the series Everybody Hates Chris and was voted Comedy Central’s fifth-greatest stand-up comedian.

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 5 
Chadwick Boseman
94
Birthdate: November 29, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Anderson, South Carolina, United States
Died: August 28, 2020

A versatile actor and an inspiration for a generation of black youths, Chadwick Boseman is best remembered for portraying notable real life black figures like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown in their biopics. His excellent performance in Black Panther, though, turned him into a household name.

 6 
Spike Lee
(Film director)
Spike Lee
47
Birthdate: March 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Spike Lee is a celebrated and one of the most decorated American filmmakers of his generation. Most of his critically acclaimed films explore political issues, such as urban crime and poverty, colorism in the African-American community, and race relations. Four of his films have been selected for conservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

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 7 
Shemar Moore
95
Birthdate: April 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

A fashion model turned actor, Shemar Moore is known for his rugged good looks and raw sex appeal. He started modeling in college and soon moved to act in TV shows. After having a successful stint in the TV series The Young and the Restless, he became a popular name in the show business.

 8 
Forest Whitaker
(Best Known for His Role in 'The Last King of Scotland')
Forest Whitaker
22
Birthdate: July 15, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Longview, Texas, United States
Forest Whitaker is best known for his Academy Award-winning performance as real-life dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Fans also loved him in Rogue One and Ghost Dog. He is an advocate of the UN’s Global Goals and supports peace-building initiatives and programs that help war victims.
 9 
Mahershala Ali
(The First Muslim Actor to Win an Oscar)
Mahershala Ali
25
Birthdate: February 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

Mahershala Ali is an American rapper and actor. One of the finest and most decorated actors of his generation, Ali has won many prestigious awards such as Screen Actors Guild Awards, Academy Awards, Primetime Emmy Award, and Golden Globe Award. In 2019, Mahershala Ali was included in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list.

 10 
Tracy Morgan
(Actor)
Tracy Morgan
18
Birthdate: November 10, 1968
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 11 
Keith David
21
Birthdate: June 4, 1956
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Three-time Emmy-winner Keith David is known for his voice roles in The War and Unforgivable Blackness. He has narrated several documentaries and audio books, apart from voicing iconic characters such as Arbiter in the Halo games. He played the title role in Greenleaf and supporting roles in many movies.
 12 
Lance Reddick
(American Actor and Musician Best Known for His Role as ‘Cedric Daniels’ in the TV Series ‘The Wire’)
Lance Reddick
30
Birthdate: June 7, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: March 17, 2023

Lance Reddick is an American musician and actor. Over the years, Reddick has contributed immensely to the success of several TV series, such as Oz, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Wire, Fringe, and Bosch. He has also been entertaining children and adults alike by providing his likeness and voice for video games like Quantum Break and Destiny series.

 13 
Redd Foxx
(Comedian)
Redd Foxx
18
Birthdate: December 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: October 11, 1991
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 14 
Cuba Gooding Jr.
22
Birthdate: January 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States
Cuba Gooding Jr., son of soul singer Cuba Gooding Sr., shot to fame with his Academy Award-winning role of Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire. He has played real-life characters O.J Simpson and Ben Carson on TV. His other notable projects include Pearl Harbor and As Good As It Gets.
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 15 
Charlie Murphy
(Best Known as a Writer & Cast Member of the Sketch-Comedy Series 'Chappelle's Show')
Charlie Murphy
21
Birthdate: July 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: April 12, 2017
Charlie Murphy, older brother of Eddie Murphy, is best remembered for his sketch-comedy series Chappelle's Show and for his performance as Vic in Black Jesus. He also voiced Big Kid on the children’s show Thugaboo. He also starred in movies such as CB4 and co-wrote Vampire in Brooklyn.
 16 
Sterling K. Brown
(Known for His Role in the TV Series ‘The People V. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story’)
Sterling K. Brown
17
Birthdate: April 5, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Sterling K. Brown is best known as Christopher Darden from The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Randall Pearson from This Is Us. Named to TIME 100, he also became the first Black actor to win the Golden Globe for the “Best Actor in a TV Drama.” 
 17 
Caleb McLaughlin
(American Actor Known for His Role as ‘Lucas Sinclair’ in the TV Series ‘Stranger Things’)
Caleb McLaughlin
40
Birthdate: October 13, 2001
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Carmel Hamlet, New York, United States
Caleb McLaughlin is best known as Lucas Sinclair from the Netflix series Stranger Things, a role that earned him a NAACP Image Award. He has also played Young Simba in the Broadway musical The Lion King. He made his film debut with the 2020 movie Concrete Cowboy.
 18 
John David Washington
(Former American Football Player & Actor Known for His Roles in Series 'Ballers' and Films: 'BlacKkKlansman' and 'Tenet')
John David Washington
45
Birthdate: July 28, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Son of famous actor, Denzel Washington, John David Washington is a former professional footballer who played in the NFL Europe and the United Football League (UFL). He co-produced a film, The Book of Eli, and rose to fame as an actor with HBO drama series, Ballers. He later starred in critically acclaimed films, such as BlacKkKlansman and Tenet.

 19 
Hannibal Buress
(Comedian)
Hannibal Buress
11
Birthdate: February 4, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 20 
Jonathan Majors
(Best Known for His Role as ‘Atticus Freeman’ in the TV Series ‘Lovecraft Country’)
Jonathan Majors
34
Birthdate: September 7, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lompoc, California, United States
Yale alumnus Jonathan Majors is best known as Atticus Freeman from Lovecraft Country and Kang the Conqueror from Ant-Man 3. He is also known for the series When We Rise and the film The Last Black Man in San Francisco. He actively participated in the Black Lives Matter movement.
 21 
John Amos
(Actor)
John Amos
6
Birthdate: December 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 22 
Craig Robinson
(Actor)
Craig Robinson
16
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 23 
Patrice O'Neal
(Stand-up Comedian)
Patrice O'Neal
7
Birthdate: December 7, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: November 29, 2011
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
 24 
Keenen Ivory Wayans
(Actor, Comedian and Filmmaker Known for His Comedy Series, ‘In Living Color’, and the Film ‘Hollywood Shuffle’)
Keenen Ivory Wayans
17
Birthdate: June 8, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Keenen Ivory Wayans, part of the Wayans family of comedians, is best known as the host of the show In Living Color. He has also directed and written several movies, including the horror spoof Scary Movie and its first sequel. He has also hosted The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show.
 25 
Morris Chestnut
(Best Known for His Role as ‘Ricky’ in the Film ‘Boyz n the Hood’)
Morris Chestnut
21
Birthdate: January 1, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cerritos, California, United States

Actor Morris Chestnut is best known for his role in the film Boyz n the Hood. Beginning his career as a young man, he appeared in a few TV shows before venturing into films. He steadily evolved as an actor and went on to co-star alongside major actors in big-budget films. He has co-authored a book on health and fitness.

 26 
Damon Wayans Jr.
(Actor and Comedian Known for Playing as ‘Brad Williams’ in the ABC Sitcom ‘Happy Endings’)
Damon Wayans Jr.
29
Birthdate: November 18, 1982
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Huntington, Vermont, United States

The son of popular actor and comedian Damon Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr. followed in his father's footsteps to become a famous actor and comedian in his own right. He played a major role in helping the ABC comedy series Happy Endings become a critically acclaimed series and a cult classic.

 27 
O'Shea Jackson Jr.
(Actor)
O'Shea Jackson Jr.
11
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: February 24, 1991
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles Los Angeles, California, U.S.
 28 
Ernie Hudson
(Actor)
Ernie Hudson
14
Birthdate: December 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
 29 
Jill Scott
(Singer-songwriter)
Jill Scott
22
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: April 4, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 30 
Karamo Brown
(Known for His MTV Reality Series the 'Real World: Philadelphia', The First Openly Gay Black Man on a Reality Show)
Karamo Brown
10
Birthdate: November 2, 1980
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

A dynamic talk and lifestyle television host, Karamo Brown is also a reality television personality, actor, author, and an award-winning activist. Beginning his career with a small role in The Princess Diaries, he later switched to television, making his mark with the MTV reality series The Real World: Philadelphia.  Also a published author, he has three titles to his credit.

Tyler James Williams
25
Birthdate: October 9, 1992
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Westchester County, New York, United States
Tyler James Williams is best known for his Young Artist Award-winning titular role in the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. He also became the youngest recipient of the NAACP Image Award. Fans also loved him in the series The Walking Dead, Whiskey Cavalier, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.
 32 
Sherman Hemsley
(Actor)
Sherman Hemsley
9
Birthdate: February 1, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 24, 2012
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 33 
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
(Known for His Roles as Theodore Huxtable on the NBC Sitcom the ‘Cosby Show’)
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
6
Birthdate: August 18, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 34 
Justice Smith
(American Actor Known for His Role as ‘Franklin Webb’ in the Film ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’)
Justice Smith
22
Birthdate: August 9, 1995
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Justice Smith is best known as Franklin Webb from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and as Tim Goodman from Detective Pikachu. He has also appeared as Theodore in All the Bright Places and as Ezekiel in The Get Down. He delivered a Drama Desk-nominated performance in the play Yen.
 35 
Arsenio Hall
(Comedian)
Arsenio Hall
20
Birthdate: February 12, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 36 
J. B. Smoove
(Actor)
J. B. Smoove
17
Birthdate: December 16, 1965
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Plymouth, North Carolina, United States
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
 37 
David Alan Grier
(actor, screenwriter, stage actor, television actor)
David Alan Grier
8
Birthdate: June 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit
 38 
Wendell Pierce
(Actor)
Wendell Pierce
17
Birthdate: December 8, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 39 
Cab Calloway
(Singer)
Cab Calloway
7
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: December 25, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rochester
Died: November 18, 1994

Jazz singer and dancer, Cab Calloway, was a famous vocalist of the swing era.  From the early 1930s to the late 1940s, he led a very popular band that included musicians like  Dizzy Gillespie, Jonah Jones, and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham. A man of color, he became the first African-American musician to sell a million records from a single song.

 40 
Lil Rel Howery
(Actor)
Lil Rel Howery
13
Birthdate: December 17, 1979
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
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 41 
Tony Todd
(Known for His Role as ‘Sergeant Warren’ in the Film ‘Platoon’)
Tony Todd
11
Birthdate: December 4, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Tony Todd’s 6’5” frame made him the perfect choice for the titular role in the Candyman movie franchise. He also played Reverend Zombie in the Hatchett franchise and William Bludworth in the Final Destination film series. He also voiced The Fallen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
 42 
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
(Actor)
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
29
Birthdate: July 15, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is an American actor best known for playing Black Manta in the 2018 superhero film Aquaman. He is also renowned for portraying Doctor Manhattan in the superhero drama limited series Watchmen for which he was honored with the prestigious Primetime Emmy Award in September 2020.

 43 
Shameik Moore
(Known for Voicing Miles Morales/Spider-Man in the Film 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse')
Shameik Moore
23
Birthdate: May 4, 1995
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Best known for his portrayal of Malcolm in the movie Dope, Shameik Moore later began his career with Incredible Crew and later gained fame for voicing Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. A skilled rapper, too, he scored 100,000 downloads with his debut mixtape, I Am Da Beat.

 44 
Emmanuel Lewis
(Known for His Tutular Role in the Sitcom ‘Webster’)
Emmanuel Lewis
12
Birthdate: March 9, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Emmanuel Lewis started as a child actor and is best known for his titular role in the sitcom Webster, a role that earned him four Young Artist Award nominations. He is a martial arts enthusiast and is known for his signature short stature. He has released two singles in Japan.
 45 
Nnamdi Asomugha
(American football player)
Nnamdi Asomugha
9
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 6, 1981
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lafayette, Louisiana, United States
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 46 
James Avery
(Film actor)
James Avery
8
Birthdate: November 27, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Suffolk, Virginia, U.S.
Died: December 31, 2013
Height: 6'5" (196 cm)
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 47 
Scatman Crothers
(Actor and Musician)
Scatman Crothers
10
Birthdate: May 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States
Died: November 22, 1986

Scatman Crothers was an American musician and actor. Also a prolific voice-over actor, Crothers contributed immensely to the success of several animated TV series, such as Harlem Globetrotters, The Transformers, and Hong Kong Phooey. For his contribution to the American TV and film industry, Scatman Crothers was awarded a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 48 
Miguel
(Singer-songwriter)
Miguel
11
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: October 23, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Pedro, Los Angeles, U.S.
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 49 
Orlando Brown
(Actor, Voice Actor, Singer)
Orlando Brown
15
Birthdate: December 4, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Orlando Brown is an American actor, singer, and rapper. After starting his career as a child actor, Brown went on to establish himself in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, his personal life, entangled with legal issues, has overshadowed his professional achievements so far. He has been arrested several times with various charges.

 50 
Lamorne Morris
(Actor and Comedian )
Lamorne Morris
7
Birthdate: August 14, 1983
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Lamorne Morris began his career with the BET shows HotWyred and 106 & Park. He gained game with his Teen Choice Award-nominated role of Winston in New Girl. He has appeared in many FunnyorDie shorts, in the docu-drama Valley of the Boom, and as Keef Knight in the series Woke.