Famous Black Playwrights

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

Vote for Your Favourite Playwrights
 1 
Lorraine Hansberry
(Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist)
Lorraine Hansberry
7
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 12, 1965

Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.

 2 
James Baldwin
(Author Best Known for His Novel 'Go Tell It on the Mountain')
James Baldwin
5
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 1, 1987

Amongst the greatest writers of the 20th century and a leading literary voice in the civil rights movement, James Baldwin extensively explored issues like race, sexuality and humanity in his work. His best known work include his debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and his books of essays Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name.

 3 
Michaela Coel
(British Actress and Screenwriter Known for Her TV Series: 'Chewing Gum' and 'I May Destroy You')
Michaela Coel
7
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
 4 
Ernie Hudson
5
Birthdate: December 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA
 5 
Colman Domingo
5
Birthdate: November 28, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
 6 
Ossie Davis
(Former actor who appeared in films with wife Ruby Dee)
Ossie Davis
5
Birthdate: December 18, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cogdell, Georgia, United States
Died: February 4, 2005
 7 
Patrisse Cullors
5
Birthdate: June 20, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
 8 
Anna Deavere Smith
(Actress, Playwright & Professor)
Anna Deavere Smith
5
Birthdate: September 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Paul Laurence Dunbar
4
Birthdate: June 27, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Died: February 9, 1906
 10 
Buchi Emecheta
(Novelist)
Buchi Emecheta
4
Birthdate: July 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yaba Department
Died: January 25, 2017
 11 
John Agard
(Playwright, Poet, Children's writer)
John Agard
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Georgetown, Guyana
 12 
Suzan-Lori Parks
(American playwright)
Suzan-Lori Parks
4
Birthdate: May 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fort Knox, Kentucky, United States
 13 
Archie Shepp
(Jazz Saxophonist)
Archie Shepp
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
 14 
Lisa Codrington
(Canadian Actress and Playwright Best Known for Her Comedy Series 'Letterkenny')
Lisa Codrington
1
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
 15 
Mbongeni Ngema
(South African Writer, Lyricist, Composer, Director, Choreographer and Theatre Producer)
Mbongeni Ngema
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1956
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

A South African Zulu, Mbongeni Ngema worked as a manual laborer and a guitarist before venturing into theater and then becoming a playwright and a director. While he created controversy with his play Asinamali!, he gained international repute with Sarafina! He was also a choir director for The Lion King.

 16 
Maryse Condé
(Novelist)
Maryse Condé
3
Birthdate: February 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe
 17 
Regina Taylor
(Actress, Playwright.)
Regina Taylor
0
Birthdate: August 22, 1960
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States
 18 
Oscar Cicero Brown, Jr.
(Singer-songwriter)
Oscar Cicero Brown, Jr.
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: May 29, 2005
 19 
Vantile Whitfield
0
Birthdate: September 8, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: January 9, 2005
 20 
Ola Rotimi
(One of the Most Important Playwrights of Nigeria)
Ola Rotimi
3
Birthdate: April 13, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ilesa, Nigeria
Died: August 18, 2000
Ola Rotimi was a Nigerian theatre director and playwright. Counted among the most important playwrights of Nigeria, Rotimi also worked as an actor, choreographer, and designer. Ola Rotimi also contributed as a teacher as he taught at the Obafemi Awolowo University, where he established the Ori Olokun Acting Company.
 21 
Colville Young
(2nd Governor-General of Belize)
Colville Young
0
Birthdate: November 20, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Belize City, Belize
 22 
Wallace Thurman
(Novelist)
Wallace Thurman
2
Birthdate: August 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: December 22, 1934
 23 
Caryl Phillips
(Novelist, Playwright and Essayist)
Caryl Phillips
2
Birthdate: March 13, 1958
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis
 24 
Dambudzo Marechera
2
Birthdate: June 4, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rusape, Zimbabwe
Died: August 18, 1987
 25 
Efua Sutherland
(Playwright)
Efua Sutherland
2
Birthdate: June 27, 1924
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cape Coast, Ghana
Died: January 2, 1996
 26 
Errol John
(Actor)
Errol John
2
Birthdate: December 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Died: July 10, 1988
 27 
Charles Fuller
(Playwright)
Charles Fuller
2
Birthdate: March 5, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
 28 
Bernard Binlin Dadié
(Ivorian Novelist, Playwright, Poet, and Administrator)
Bernard Binlin Dadié
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1916
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Assini, Côte d’Ivoire
Died: March 9, 2019

Better known as a novelist, playwright and poet, Bernard Binlin Dadié was also an able administrator, serving as Ivory Coast's Minister of Culture. Inspired by Africa's rich traditions, he tried to highlight them not only through his writings, but also by publishing several volumes of legends, fables, folktales, and proverbs, concurrently giving expression to Africa's desire for equality and dignity.

 29 
Dawit Isaak
(Swedish-Eritrean Writer, Journalist, and Playwright)
Dawit Isaak
0
Birthdate: October 28, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Asmara, Eritrea
 30 
Jonas Hassen Khemiri
(Swedish Writer, Novelist, Playwright, and Essayist)
Jonas Hassen Khemiri
2
Birthdate: December 27, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
 31 
Pauline Hopkins
(Novelist)
Pauline Hopkins
2
Birthdate: 1859 AD
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, United States
Died: August 13, 1930
 32 
Earl Lovelace
(Novelist)
Earl Lovelace
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toco, Trinidad and Tobago
 33 
Lonne Elder III
2
Birthdate: December 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Americus, Georgia, United States
Died: June 11, 1996
 34 
Rudolph Fisher
(Physician)
Rudolph Fisher
2
Birthdate: May 9, 1897
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: December 26, 1934
 35 
Mari Evans
2
Birthdate: July 16, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio, United States
Died: March 10, 2017
 36 
Birago Diop
2
Birthdate: December 11, 1906
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dakar, Senegal
Died: November 25, 1989
 37 
Ed Bullins
(Playwright)
Ed Bullins
1
Birthdate: July 2, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
 38 
Djibril Tamsir Niane
1
Birthdate: January 9, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Conakry, Guinea
 39 
Duro Ladipo
(Dramatist)
Duro Ladipo
2
Birthdate: December 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oshogbo, Nigeria
Died: March 11, 1978
 40 
Kola Ogunmola
(Noted Nigerian Dramatist and Actor Known for Developing Yoruba Culture Into a Significant Theatre Form)
Kola Ogunmola
1
Birthdate: November 11, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Okemesi, Nigeria
Died: 1973 AD
 41 
Owen Dodson
1
Birthdate: November 28, 1914
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 1983
 42 
Regina M. Anderson
(Playwright)
Regina M. Anderson
1
Birthdate: May 21, 1901
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: February 5, 1993
 43 
Sony Labou Tansi
1
Birthdate: June 5, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kimwenza, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Died: June 14, 1995
 44 
Michael Usi
(Actor known for his role as Dr. Manga" in the film Dr. Manga.)
Michael Usi
1
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Malawi
 45 
Augusta Jawara
(Nurse, Playwright and Activist)
Augusta Jawara
1
Birthdate: 1924
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: January 21, 1981
 46 
Eulalie Spence
(Playwright, screenwriters)
Eulalie Spence
1
Birthdate: June 11, 1894
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis
Died: March 7, 1981
 47 
Penina Muhando
(Playwright)
Penina Muhando
1
Birthdate: 1948 AD
Birthplace: Berega ,Morogoro Region , Tanzania
 48 
Ngugi wa Mirii
(Playwright)
Ngugi wa Mirii
1
Birthdate: 1951 AD
Birthplace: Limuru, Kenya
Died: May 3, 2008
 49 
Cont Mhlanga
(Playwright)
Cont Mhlanga
0
Birthplace: Zimbabwea
 50 
Werewere Liking
(Actress, Writer)
Werewere Liking
1
Birthdate: May 1, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cameroon