The history of African-American film actors goes back to 1915 and The Silent Billboard, a comedy starring William B. Davidson as the first African-American actor to have a leading role in American cinema. In the years since many others have followed his lead and opened the doors for future generations.

The movie industry has been an extremely powerful cultural force. The film is one of the most powerful storytelling mediums in history, a cultural phenomenon that has a deep influence on us all. From the earliest silent black-and-white pictures to today’s highest-grossing blockbusters, there have been enough good films to see a movie every day for the next century and still have enough left over to watch a different film tomorrow. African-American film actors have had a huge impact on American society.

When you look at the history of African-American films, it is difficult to deny that some of the most memorable and influential films of all time have been created by directors and star actors who were African American. Given the vast number of talented African-American actors and actresses, we decided it would be a good idea to create a list of the top best African-American film actors. Anyone can vote on this list of talented, professional actors.

Morgan Freeman

Though he has been acting for over forty years, Morgan Freeman is still going strong. Morgan Freeman is so legendary that the only thing people seem to be able to say about him is that he’s one of the most successful actors of all time. He earned four Guinness World Records for his performances in The Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Knight, Invincible, and Million Dollar Baby.

Morgan Freeman might just have the perfect voice for a narrator. Whether he’s delivering a truly moving monologue or a witty script read, his deep, soothing tones will certainly draw you in. For over five decades, the actor has been an iconic Hollywood figure — been cited as “One of the Greatest Screen Legends of Modern Times” by both Empire and Premiere magazines.

Morgan Freeman grew up in Mississippi, where he dreamed of becoming an actor while appearing in local stage productions. He moved to New York, where his dream was realized while performing in The Electric Company, a Sesame Street spinoff series that ran for six seasons.

Freeman’s real break came when he landed the titular role in 1987’s Street Smart. With award nominations and smash success, it cemented his place in the Hollywood firmament the following year.

Morgan Freeman’s voice is familiar to millions, whether as narrator for the 1999 feature documentary The Long Way Home or as an actor in movies like Bruce Almighty or Million Dollar Baby.

Denzel Washington

One of the most critically and commercially acclaimed actors in cinema history, Denzel Washington is a force to be reckoned with. He has an innate ability to draw you into the story and connect with you on a personal level. He took Hollywood by storm with his first film back in 1982 and has only grown more popular with everyone since. A highly-acclaimed actor, he is also known for his directorial work on The Great Debaters.

Hollywood has seen other great black actors blossom, but Denzel Washington is arguably the most successful. The actor’s legendary performances have earned him two Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Denzel Washington is the kind of actor that always delivers. Born in 1954, Denzel has since then won two Golden Globes, one Tony, two Academy Awards, and an Emmy, to name a few. His talent has been recognized by the best in the business.

Samuel L. Jackson


Mr. Samuel Leroy Jackson is a well-known name in the acting industry with a long list of achievements to his credit. He has been ranked as the sixth greatest actor by Empire magazine. It’s a wonder that his stellar career began at a very young age after moving from his hometown Chattanooga, Tennessee to pursue academics. After starting his career with theater, Samuel L. Jackson moved to television and eventually to film. His early works include the box-office hits Jurassic Park and Die Hard with a Vengeance, and he’s since become one of the most sought-after Hollywood has to offer: appearing in more than 50 films and television shows, including Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill, and Django Unchained.

Will Smith

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With his critically acclaimed 2014 feature film “Concussion”, which he also produced, along with his co-starring role in the blockbuster “Suicide Squad” blockbuster, Will Smith is one of the most successful actors of our time. He began rapping at just 14 years old and dropped his first studio record three years later. Smith has played major roles in eight films that have all grossed more than $100 million each. He has shown a tremendous ability to play a variety of characters and excel at different genres, from comedy to drama.

In Will Smith’s movies, he’s played everything from action heroes to comedy staples.

Jamie Foxx

With a rising career and $108 million net worth, Mr. Foxx has earned immense respect in the world of Hollywood. Multiple black film award shows have recognized his talent by handing him an award. One of these awards came for his unforgettable performance in Django Unchained, which cemented his reputation as one of the best actors working today. Apart from being an actor, He’s a comedian and singer from the United States. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Ray, a biopic (2004).

Laurence John Fishburne III

Laurence Fishburne is an American actor who achieved his breakthrough performance in the 1990s critically acclaimed drama Boyz n the Hood, for which he became the first African-American to win: He’s the perfect shoe for those who want performance and style. John was recently honored for his role in the Broadway play, “Two Trains Running.”

He followed this success with performances in numerous films, including The Matrix trilogy, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Heart Condition, and The Tuskegee Airmen in which he portrayed a famed African-American pilot.

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy is that rare actor who can hold you in hysterics both with stand-up and onscreen performances.

Saturday Night Live, the longest-running sketch comedy show in television history, is a breeding ground for actors, comedians, writers, and musicians. It’s aired an average of thirteen seasons per year since its debut in 1975. One of the most famous alumni from the show is Eddie Murphy, who brought his brand of humor to the world from 1981 to 1984.

Stand-up comedians and actors such as Eddie Murphy have added a new dynamic to the entertainment industry.

Eddie Murphy is the undisputed king of comedy. The Golden Globe-winning Beverly Hills Cop, which he starred in and co-wrote, was the biggest movie of 1984 and has since grossed nearly $300 million worldwide. He also made box office history with his role in the hit film The Nutty Professor — it opened at #1 and grossed $63.6 million, making it the biggest opening weekend for a live-action comedy.

Danny Glover

Danny Glover continues to remain alive and well at the age of 69. The very first African American actor to appear on the list of top performers is Danny Glover. His list of achievements is long, but it’s his versatile skillset that has wowed his peers and the industry itself. Glover has acted, directed, produced, and founded several organizations supporting humanitarian causes.

Glover made his first appearance in Sidney Poitier’s 1980 film “The Color Purple,” and has since appeared in over 50 films, including: “Lethal Weapon,” “Days of Thunder,” and While many people have been familiar with Danny Glover from his role in Lethal Weapon, his role in The Royal Tenenbaums demonstrated just how talented the star is. In the acclaimed film, he delivers a stunning performance that won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role and” Predator 2.

Cuba Gooding Jr

So, while it may be true that acting success is often linked to the color of one’s skin, there are still black actors who have made significant contributions to Hollywood.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is the embodiment of excellence in the entertainment industry. He has proved his mettle playing leading roles in blockbuster movies. In addition to being a movie star, Cuba Gooding Jr. also shows his tremendous singing skills by frequently delivering marvelous musical performances.

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and has won two Golden Globe Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award among other recognitions. He was born to a single mother in New York City and began his professional acting career while still in school.

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker- an award-winning American actor with a $3 million net worth today. Hollywood stars come and go, but Forest Whitaker is an actor that every person in the audience roots for. Since his performance as Zack in “The Hard Way” (1991), he has been delivering roles that make audiences like him even more.

Actor Forest Whitaker made a name for himself in the industry through his critically acclaimed works. In 2014, he was featured in The Butler and Platoon — two movies that earned him a lot of praise and recognition. His performance in The Butler even earned him an award for the Best Actor at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. Forest Whitaker has been nominated for multiple Golden Globe Awards. He received the prestigious Academy Award in 2011 for his role as Idi Amin.

James Earl Jones

This early man, James Earl Jones, one of America’s most distinguished and versatile actors has won many awards. With a career spanning more than seven decades, Jones is still out there on the stage, bringing magic to it. Known for his versatility, Jones has played everything from powerful rulers to oddball side characters, but, His performance as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy was so convincing that it technically outranked the acting of the other actors in the film. As Mufasa in The Lion King, he gave voice to an unforgettable fictional character. From the grave, his voice became iconic enough to revive Back to the Future.

Sidney Poitier

Without a doubt, Sidney Poitier is one of the very few African-American actors in history to have won an Oscar. Along with his role in Lilies of the Field, Sidney was rewarded for his work in 1963, when he took home the trophy for Best Actor. The first was awarded to Sidney Poitier, who used his fame to deal with race-related issues in Hollywood and beyond.

After many years of success in the theatre, Poitier made his film debut in the 1952 film No Way Out. He then starred in Blackboard Jungle (1955), joining an all-star cast including James Dean and Natalie Wood for the film about delinquent students.

Don Cheadle

Cheadle’s warmth and ability to take on a variety of roles has made him one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors. In addition to playing various leading and supporting parts in successful productions, he has been nominated for awards from the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and he has won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award.

Don’t be surprised if Cheadle’s name is called at the next Oscars. The actor’s performance as current-day Paul Rusesabagina in “Hotel Rwanda” is nothing short of Oscar-worthy.

Michael B. Jordan

Michael Bakari Jordan is a true triple threat: a phenomenal actor, a bona fide athlete, and a charismatic speaker.

After becoming well-known for his playing the victim of a fatal police shooting in Fruitvale Station (2013), Michael B. Jordan landed his first leading role in 2015’s Rocky sequel film Creed, which made over $250 million worldwide. The same year, he starred as the villain Erik Killmonger in Marvel’s Black Panther, which became the tenth-highest grossing film of all time.

Jordan has appeared in numerous commercials, feature films, music videos, and television shows including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ABC’s All My Children, NBC’s Without A Trace, Nip/Tuck, and Cold Case.

Idris Elba

Idris Elba is the greatest actor of his generation, renowned for his ability to transform himself in any role.

Idris Elba is an English actor, musician, and DJ–the perfect combination to become a successful entrepreneur. He’s best known for his roles on The Wire and Luther, but he’s also acted in Beowulf, Thor, Pacific Rim, Zootopia, and more. And with his music production skills, he could help you create the perfect soundscape. Idris Elba has done good work — and he’s landed multiple award nominations because of it.

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes is an amazing performer, who has thrilled audiences for years. He’s a smooth and talented star whose performances have been called captivating, powerful, and even mesmerizing. He has acted in both larger ensemble pieces and smaller independent movies and is well known for his martial arts abilities — earning him the nickname “Blade” on the set of the Blade trilogy. The five-time MTV Movie Awards nominee has become a staple in Hollywood blockbusters.

As an acclaimed real-estate agent and motivational speaker, Wesley Trent Snipes rose to fame in the early 1990s before his run-in with the law. That’s because he’s dabbled in a range of roles, from “Passenger 57” to television shows like “Law & Order.” He’s also a prolific producer and director — his movies have made over $1 billion worldwide. It’s hard to imagine that after all this time, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the man himself.

Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie is a world-class actor who has been featured in films and plays for many years. He plays diverse and emotionally layered characters, and he often acts as a bridge between the audience and the action of the film — his energy and charisma draw you in, and his emotional honesty keeps you hooked to the screen.

Named one of the best parts of 8 Mile by Complex magazine, Anthony Mackie has had a great career in both film and theatre. His best-known roles include All My Children, Hard Rain, Although this is not his first leading role — 2011 saw him play jazz legend Charlie Parker in Cadillac Records — it is the role he is most known for.


Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I’ve been writing articles for more than 10 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I’m currently writing for many websites and newspaper. All my ideas come from my very active lifestyle. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. In all my years as computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. I believe that any information should be free, we want to know more every day because we learn everyday. You can contact me on our forum or by email at: info@sind.ca.

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