Famous Black Film & Theater Personalities

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Will Smith

Will Smith.
30
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 25, 1968
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

The charismatic, versatile and bankable American artist, Will Smith, tasted early success with rapping. A successful transition into films and television soon followed and made Smith a phenomenal success. With solid earnings, he has also frequently secured himself a place in the list of highest paid actors in world.

 2 Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy.
14
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 3, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Actor and comedian, Eddie Murphy, is one of the highest-grossing actors in the United States. Beginning his career as a comedian on the TV show Saturday Night Live, he went on to become a bankable movie actor. Also a singer, he has released many studio albums. He has been awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

 3 Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart.
12
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: July 6, 1979
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

American comedian and actor, Kevin Hart attained fame as a stand-up comic and then established himself as a leading comedic actor on the big screen with films like Get Hard, About Last Night, Ride Along and The Wedding Ringer. He has also been part of two Jumanji films. He was critically acclaimed for the 2019 comedy-drama film The Upside.

 4 Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman.
10
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 1, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Prominent character actor, Morgan Freeman, has appeared in a range of film genres playing versatile roles. He is known for his distinctive deep voice. In a career spanning over half a century, he has received various accolades, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Besides acting, he is an advocate of environmental causes.

 5 Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington.
15
Famous As: American actor
Birthdate: December 28, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States

Actor, director, and producer, Denzel Washington, is famous for portraying strong real-life characters like anti-apartheid activist, Steve Biko, and human rights activist, Malcolm X, in films. Well-built and ruggedly handsome, he became the first black star to be named the Sexiest Man Alive in 1996. 

 6 Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson.
11
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Actor and producer, Samuel L. Jackson is widely regarded as one of the most popular actors of his generation. A highly prolific actor, he has appeared in over 150 films and is especially known for his roles in Quentin Tarantino films. Besides acting, he has voiced for several animated films, television series, and video games.

 7 Halle Berry

Halle Berry.
13
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 14, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Halle Berry is one of the most popular actresses of the current generation. During the 2000s, she was one of the highest-paid Hollywood actresses. Halle is also known for her activism for which she was honored with the 2006 Woman of The Year award by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. She also gets featured in several Sexiest Women lists.

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 8 Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx.
8
Famous As: Actor
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.

 9 Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle.
11
Famous As: Stand-up comedian
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

American comedian, writer and actor, Dave Chappelle, is best known for the Chappelle’s Show, the acclaimed Comedy Central show which brought him much popularity before he decided to call it quits in its third season. He later released award winning comedy specials with Netflix. Dave has also featured in numerous films like Half Baked and A Star Is Born.

 10 Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele.
6
Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: February 21, 1979
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

 11 James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones.
7
Famous As: Actor
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.

 12 Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor.
6
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: December 1, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois, United States
Died: December 10, 2005

Considered one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time, Richard Pryor entertained his audience and influenced generations of stand-up comedians with his pointed observations and skilful art of storytelling. He began by performing at clubs and gained immense fame with his third comedy album, That Nigger’s Crazy. He also became an acclaimed actor and an award winning writer.

 13 Chris Rock

Chris Rock.
10
Famous As: Standup Comedian, Actor
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.

 14 Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence.
9
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: April 16, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

Martin Lawrence is a German born-American actor and comedian. Despite being traumatized after witnessing his parents' divorce at the age of eight, Lawrence went on to succeed as a comedian and later as a leading Hollywood actor. After a problematic 1990s, which included episodes of arrests, lawsuits, and health problems, he bounced back with several hit films.

 15 Spike Lee

Spike Lee.
5
Famous As: Film director
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.

 16 Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson.
81
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 2, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hayward

A renowned former wrestler with numerous titles under his belt, Dwayne Johnson initially wanted to be a football player but an injury turned him towards wrestling. He soon entered the world of acting, experienced phenomenal success in television and films and became the highest earning male actor in the world.

 17 Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman.
59
Famous As: Actor
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.

 18 Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier.
7
Birthdate: February 20, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, U.S.

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.

 19 Beyonce Knowles

Beyonce Knowles.
8
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: September 4, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

Beyonce Knowles is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She developed an interest in music as a child. As a teenager, she became the lead singer of Destiny's Child, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. As of today, she is one of the world's best-selling recording artists. 

 20 Idris Elba

Idris Elba.
17
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Idris Elba is a successful actor both on the small and the big screen and is mainly known for the television series The Wire and Luther and also for films, such as Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Beasts of No Nation. He has also acted in blockbuster films of Marvel Comics universe like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War.

 21 Keith David

Keith David.
6
Famous As: Actor
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.

 22 Viola Davis

Viola Davis.
10
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 11, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: St. Matthews, South Carolina, United States
A popular television, film, and stage actress, Viola Davis became the first African-American actress to be honored with Triple Crown of Acting. She is also known for supporting equal rights for women. In 2012 and 2017, she was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world.

 23 Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana.
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: June 19, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Passaic, New Jersey, United States

American actress, Zoe Saldana, is best known for starring in fantasy-adventure films like Star TrekAvatarGuardians of the GalaxyAvengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which were massive worldwide hits. She faced flak in 2016 when she used skin-darkening makeup to play jazz musician Nina Simone in the biopic Nina, which led to debates about colour bias in society.

 24 Terry Crews

Terry Crews.
10
Famous As: Actor, American Football Player
Birthdate: July 30, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Flint

Terrence Crews is an actor, comedian, activist and a body-builder. He’s also a former professional football player. He has starred in sitcoms like Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Plus, he has acted in many movies including the Expendables series. In 2017, Crews talked about a sexual assault on him by a Hollywood executive. He fiercely advocates for women's rights.

 25 Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 10, 1968
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

 26 Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah.
7
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: March 18, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, USA

Queen Latifah is an American musician and actress whose song U.N.I.T.Y. played a major role in raising awareness about women's rights worldwide. Dubbed Queen of Jazz-Rap, Latifah has influenced several soul, R&B, and hip-hop artists like Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Ivy Queen, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Eve among other artists. As an actress, Latifah has won several prestigious awards.

 27 Jaden Smith

Jaden Smith.
14
Famous As: Rapper, Actor
Birthdate: July 8, 1998
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Malibu, California, United States

Jaden Smith, son of the famous Hollywood actor Will Smith, made his big screen debut with his father in The Pursuit of Happyness at a young age. Later, The Karate Kid proved to be a big movie for him. The young star, since then, has continued his acting career and simultaneously released two albums and launched his own clothing line.

 28 Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah.
15
Famous As: Actor, Comedian,TV host
Birthdate: February 20, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa

Trevor Noah is a writer, political commentator, comedian and television host and hosts the American satirical news programme, The Daily Show. He has also hosted several other shows, including the late-night talk show, Tonight with Trevor Noah. He is an actor too. He has written an autobiographical book, Born A Crime, and has received numerous accolades and awards, including the Emmy Award.

 29 Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress
6
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: February 4, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

 30 Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union.
7
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 29, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska

A popular American actress, Gabrielle Union has been vocal about violence against women and issues pertaining to women's health. Also a writer, she has released a memoir and a children's book. In 2020, she was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list. Gabrielle Union has been an inspiration for women like Oprah Winfrey.

 31 Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg.
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Birthdate: November 13, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manhattan

Accomplished American comedian, actress, singer and Broadway star, Whoopi Goldberg is amongst the select few who have won all the four awards—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Moreover, she is also a political activist, author and talk show host. Her notable work include films Ghost, Sister Act and The Color Purple; Broadway show Thoroughly Modern Millie and talk show The View.

 32 Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong'o.
9
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 1, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico

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.

 33 Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett.
10
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harlem, New York City, New York, United States

Best known for playing real-life black women in biopics, Angela Bassett does not mind being typecast as someone who often plays biographical roles. She has portrayed prominent personalities like Tina Turner, Betty Shabazz, Katherine Jackson, and Coretta Scott King. Also a director, producer, and activist, Angela Bassett works toward bettering the lives of African-Americans.

 34 Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan.
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 10, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: September 3, 2012

Michael Clarke Duncan was one of the most popular actors best known for his portrayal of John Coffey in the fantasy drama film The Green Mile. Apart from acting in films and TV series, he was also featured in several video games, such as SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, and The Suffering: Ties That Bind.

 35 Katt Williams

Katt Williams.
5
Famous As: Stand-up Comedian, Actor
Birthdate: September 2, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Comedian and rapper Katt Williams is best known as Money Mike from the comedy film Friday After Next. He was also part of Nick Cannon's improv show Wild 'N Out and played Lord Have Mercy in the movie Norbit. He has won an Emmy for his guest role in Atlanta

 36 Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson.
11
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 11, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Taraji P. Henson is an American actress who became the first black woman to receive the Critics' Choice Television Award under the Best Actress in a Drama Series category for her portrayal of Cookie Lyon in the TV series Empire. Taraji P. Henson was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2016. 

 37 Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith.
17
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 18, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

An actress, screenwriter, producer, and businesswoman, Jada Pinkett Smith is a woman who dons many hats. Entering the entertainment world in the 1990s as an actress, she quickly cemented her place in Hollywood and soon branched out into production as well. An ambitious lady, she also runs her own music company and fashion label.

 38 Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry.
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

The amazingly talented, Tyler Perry, is an American actor who topped Forbes list of highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011. Perry is most known as the creator of the boisterous, African-American grandmother character, Madea, which he himself performs with great skill and artistry. From a homeless playwriter to having his own studio, Perry has surely achieved the evasive American dream.

 39 Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker.
5
Famous As: Entertainer, Actress, Singer
Birthdate: June 3, 1906
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: April 12, 1975
Nicknamed Black Pearl and Creole Goddess, Josephine Baker was the first Black woman to appear in a motion picture. She was a revue dancer, famous for her signature banana costume. A civil rights activist, she helped the French military during World War II. She adopted 12 children of different ethnicities.

 40 Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 29, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama, United States

 41 Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

 42 Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes.
5
Birthdate: July 31, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Orlando, Florida, United States

The quintessential vampire-killer of Hollywood, Wesley Snipes is best known for his action-oriented films, such as the Blade film trilogy and The Expendables 3. Apart from being an actor, Wesley Snipes is also a martial artist, and hence often portray roles that require him to perform stunts. He is a black belt holder in Hapkido and Shotokan Karate.

 43 Redd Foxx

Redd Foxx
5
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: December 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: October 11, 1991

 44 Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore.
4
Famous As: Actor
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.

 45 Daniel Kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 24, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England, UK

 46 Lena Horne

Lena Horne.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 30, 1917
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bedford-Stuyvesant
Died: May 9, 2010

Lena Horne was an American singer, actress, dancer, and civil rights activist. Horne's 70-year acting career was embellished with several prestigious awards, such as Grammy Awards. Her life and career were depicted in many stage shows, where she was portrayed by actresses like Leslie Uggams, Nikki Crawford, and Ryan Jillian.

 47 Lizzo

Lizzo.
15
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 27, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Three-time Grammy-winning rap and hip-hop sensation Lizzo is also a queer and body-positivity icon. She began singing with groups such as The Chalice and Grrrl Prty, and graced the Billboard 200 with the album Cuz I Love You. Time’s 2019 Entertainer of the Year, Lizzo is also a talented flute-player.

 48 Bernie Mac

Bernie Mac.
6
Famous As: Actor, Comedian
Birthdate: October 5, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: August 9, 2008
A well-known comedian and actor, Bernie Mac was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time list in 2017. In recognition of his contribution to arts, Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared November 14 as Bernie Mac Day in 2016. Bernie's alma mater Chicago Vocational High School renamed its CVS Auditorium as Bernie Mac Auditorium.

 49 Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Anthony Mackie is an American actor who achieved international recognition after playing Sam Wilson / Falcon in a series of superhero films produced by Marvel Studios. A self-made man, Mackie graduated from the Juilliard School and worked hard to establish himself in the American film and TV industry.

 50 Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson.
4
Famous As: Actress, Singer
Birthdate: September 12, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Jennifer Hudson shot to fame after reaching the finals of the third season of American Idol. She is known for her Academy Award-winning role of Effie White in Dreamgirls. She also won the Grammy twice, one for her self-titled debut album and the other for the musical The Color Purple