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.
Sidney Poitier is a Bahamian-American actor who became the first Afro-Bahamian and Black male actor to receive an Oscar for Best Actor in 1964. In 2009, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His life and work inspired a couple of documentary films, including the 2008 film Sidney Poitier, an Outsider in Hollywood.
Alfonso Ribeiro is an American actor, television personality, and dancer who got to dance alongside Michael Jackson for a Pepsi commercial when the former was just a kid. Since then, Ribeiro has not looked back and later used his dancing skills to become an actor. He currently hosts one of the most beloved TV shows ever, America's Funniest Home Videos.
5 DJ Yella
Chandra Wilson is an American actress best known for playing Dr. Miranda Bailey in the popular medical drama TV series Grey's Anatomy, for which she has received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Apart from being an actress and director, Chandra Wilson is also an activist; she works towards raising awareness about cyclic vomiting syndrome.
10 Mekhi Phifer
11 Phill Lewis
12 Barkhad Abdi
Somali-American actor, Barkhad Abdi, is best known for his role in the film Captain Phillips, for which he received a British Academy Film Award. Born in Somalia, he relocated to USA after the Somali Civil War broke out. After working in a few odd jobs as a young man, he took up acting and soon found success.
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.
14 Nate Parker
Lupita Nyong'o is one of the most popular black actresses of all time. The first Kenyan-Mexican actress to receive the prestigious Academy Award, Lupita Nyong'o has often been named in lists, such as the world's most beautiful woman. In 2020, she was named by Forbes magazine as one of Africa's 50 Most Powerful Women.
16 Yaphet Kotto
18 Lee Daniels
20 Jordan Peele
21 Janet Mock
23 John Kani
John Kani is a South African actor, playwright, director, and author. He is best known for playing T'Chaka in American superhero films, such as Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War. One of the few South African actors to achieve international recognition, John Kani was included in the Top 100 Great South Africans list, which was published in 2004.
24 Avery Brooks
Charles S. Dutton is an American actor and filmmaker. He is best known for playing Boy Willie in the television film The Piano Lesson, for which he received nominations at Golden Globe Awards and Primetime Emmy Awards. Interestingly, Dutton discovered his passion for acting in prison after he was jailed for manslaughter in 1967.
26 Glynn Turman
Glynn Turman is an American actor, filmmaker, and writer. In a career spanning over 60 years. Some of the notable characters that he has portrayed are: Lew Miles in the movie Peyton Place, Leroy Jackson in the film Cooley High, and Bradford Taylor in the sitcom A Different World. He has also won several awards like the NAACP Image Award.
27 David Ramsey
Best known for his roles in series such as Arrow and Dexter, David Ramsey is also a black belt in the martial art Jeet Kune Do and is well-versed in kickboxing and taekwondo, too. Apart from Arrow, he has played John Diggle/Spartan in three other series, including The Flash and Supergirl.
28 Tasha Smith
31 Bill Duke
34 Ivan Dixon
36 Keesha Sharp
37 Tim Russ
41 Chip Fields
Rick Famuyiwa is a Nigerian-American filmmaker and screenwriter. Some of his best-known works include the 1999 coming-of-age film, The Wood, 2002 romantic comedy movie, Brown Sugar, and 2015 coming-of-age film, Dope. Over the years, Famuyiwa has been vocal about the issues faced by African-Americans in the film industry and works hard to resolve such issues.
44 Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks was a writer, photographer, musician, and film director. He was the first Black American to direct and produce major motion pictures pertaining to the experience of slaves and African-Americans. He is credited with co-creating a new film genre called blaxploitation and his works have influenced filmmakers like Spike Lee. He is also credited with co-founding Essence magazine.