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Top 50 Best Black Actresses Of All Time

AishwaryaAishwarya-Posted Jan 21, 2022


Black Actresses

 

Black History Month is approaching, and it is that time of the year when people stand up and take notice of the various contributions made by black people throughout history in various fields like politics, legislature, science, sports, entertainment, and more.

 

With the rich and vibrant heritage of the African American community, there are many things that need to be celebrated and appreciated.

 

When we talk about the entertainment industry, the contributions made by the black community cannot be summed up easily.

 

It is too vast and too varied to be encompassed in one article. So, I am going to list out all the actresses from the community who have stood out and carved a niche for themselves among their contemporaries.

 

Black actresses are known for the unique sensibility and cultural ethos that they bring to a role.

 

Their sense of comedy is outstanding and unparalleled. The sheer range of accomplishments that they have made it difficult to narrow down the list of greats.

 

So, here is what I will do. We at ENTOIN take this opportunity to celebrate the contribution made by black artists in the film fraternity.

 

I am considering actresses predominantly for their acting jobs. They might have made greater contributions in music, philanthropy, business, sports, etc.

 

But, for the sake of this list, I will only consider acting. I hope not to disappoint anyone with my list, but these actresses are some of my favorites, so I might be a little partial here.

 

Please pardon me if I have excluded any great actress. Having made my point, I will not delay and start listing my 50 favorite black actresses of all time.

 

 

50. Regina Hall

 

Regina Hall

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 12th December 1970 
Place of Birth Washington, D.C.
Height 1.63 m
Debut Year 1997
Debut Movie New York Undercover - Ep: "No Place Like Hell"

 

Regina Lee Hall was born in Washington, D. C., to Ruby, a school teacher, and Odie Hall, an electrician.

 

She studied English Literature at Fordham University in the Bronx and did her Masters in Journalism from NYU.

 

She thoroughly enjoyed her student life, but the need for a stable job attracted her to the world of acting.

 

She started her career with TV commercials in 1997, before she got her starring role in the film, The Best Man in 1999.

 

However, her most famous role was that of Brenda Meeks in the comedy horror film, Scary Movie.

 

This role gave her a strong identity as a comedic actress. Later, she went on to star in Ally McBeal, sequels of Scary Movie, Grandfathered, Black-ish, About Last Night, Support The Girls, and many more.

 

Regina Hall was nominated for a few prestigious awards and won some, like Best Actress at the San Diego Film Festival for her role in Danika, Boston Online Film Critics Association Award, and Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role in Support The Girls.

 

She also became the first African American to win the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role in Support The Girls.

 

 

49. Nicole Beharie

 

Nicole Beharie

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 3rd January 1985
Place of Birth West Palm Beach, Florida
Height 1.55 m
Debut Year 2008
Debut Movie American Violet

 

Nicole Beharie is a proponent of the prestigious Juilliard School that she attended between 2003 to 2007.

 

Being the daughter of a civil servant who worked with the United States Foreign Services, Nicole Beharie grew up in different countries like the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Panama, and Jamaica.

 

She made her debut in the year 2008 in the critically acclaimed movie American Violet, alongside Alfre Woodard.

 

Her performance was well-received. She went on to star in other successful movies like the psychological drama, Shame and the sports film 42 with Chadwick Boseman.

 

She also worked in television on the FX network show Sleepy Hollow. She was nominated for several of her roles.

 

She won the awards at African-American Film Critics award and the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

 

She had to cut back on her acting roles for a period of time as she suffers from an undisclosed autoimmune disease that makes it difficult for her to work continuously.

 

But we can see more of her in the year 2022 with 892, and in the HBO miniseries, Scenes from a Marriage.

 

 

48. Keke Palmer

 

Keke Palmer

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 26th August 1993
Place of Birth Harvey, Illinois
Height 1.68 m
Debut Year 2004
Debut Movie Barbershop 2: Back in Business

 

Lauren Keyana Palmer, better known as Keke Palmer, started her career quite early as a child artist.

 

Being the daughter of two professional actors, Keke was a gifted artist. Since the age of five, she was well known for her singing talent in her church.

 

Her big break came in the film Barbershop 2: Back in Business. In 2004, Keke debuted in Barbershop 2 and impressed the director and the audience.

 

Impressed with her performance, the producers encouraged the family to move to California. She signed up to star in TV serials like Cold Case, ER, Law, and Order: SVU, Second Time Around.

 

She also starred in the TV movie Knights of South Bronx. Her role in the movie Akeelah and the Bee got her noticed and won her a few awards too.

 

She also signed a record deal with Atlantic Records to make music. Her career took off from here.

 

She won many prestigious awards like NAACP Image Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Black Reel Awards, BET Awards, and more.

 

 

47. CCH Pounder

 

CCH Pounder

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 25th December 1952
Place of Birth Georgetown, Guyana
Height 1.69 m
Debut Year 1979
Debut Movie All That Jazz

 

CCH Pounder was born in British Guyana and came to the USA in 1968 to study at Ithaca College.

 

Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder is known for playing strong roles that can, sometimes, be considered offbeat.

 

She started out on the stage with Morgan Freeman. She also did broadway shows before moving to California.

 

The film that earned her a cult following was Bagdad Cafe. She followed it up with many small roles in successful films like Avatar, Face/Off, Importance of Being Earnest, Rain, and more.

 

She also appeared in many TV serials like X-Files, The Practice, Law & Order: SVU, ER, Hill Street Blues, The Shield, and more.

 

She also did a lot of voice acting for animated shows like Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited, W. I. T. C. H., and more. Pounder was nominated for multiple Primetime Emmy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Black Reel Awards, and more.

 

She won the Satellite Award and Black Reel Award for her roles in The Shield and Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story.

 

She also does programs and advocacy to generate awareness of post-apartheid and HIV/AIDS issues.

 

 

46. Aaliyah

 

Aaliyah

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 16th January 1979
Place of Birth Brooklyn, New York
Height 1.71 m
Debut Year 1989
Debut Movie Star Search (TV Show)

 

Aaliyah was one of the brightest stars of the music industry, and a promising entrant into the film fraternity.

 

She was the sister of director Rashad Haughton and niece of the music producer Barry Hankerson.

 

Aaliyah was a major musical sensation before she entered the world of cinema with Romeo Must Die.

 

Aaliyah was a gifted singer who wowed the audiences in the TV show Star Search at the age of 10 years.

 

She went ahead to perform in a concert alongside Gladys Knight. Her music career started when she signed a record deal with her uncle, Barry Hankerson, for Blackground Records at the age of 12.

 

R. Kelly was her mentor and producer of her first album. Since then, there was no looking back.

 

After recording the soundtrack for Anastasia and Doctor Dolittle, Joel Silver invited Aaliyah to audition for the movie Romeo Must Die.

 

She got the part and acted in the film Queen of the Damned. Aaliyah was also set to play a part in the Matrix movies as well, but her untimely death did not bring the plan to fruition.

 

In 2001, on the way to Florida from the Bahamas, Aaliyah was in an air crash.

 

She, along with eight other members of her entourage, died in this accident. This brought a tragic end to a very promising career in film and music.

 

 

45. Sanaa Lathan

 

Sanaa Lathan

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 19th September 1971
Place of Birth New York, New York
Height 1.7 m
Debut Year 1996
Debut Movie In the House (TV Series)

 

Sanaa Lathan is the daughter of Eleanor McCoy and Stan Lathan. She was surrounded by artistic people since her childhood.

 

Her life was split between the television scene in LA and the Broadway scene in New York.

 

She went on to study English at UC Berkeley and did her Masters in drama at Yale University.

 

While doing her Masters in drama at Yale, Sanaa trained under the acting teacher, Earle R. Gister. She did multiple Shakespearean plays in the Broadway and Los Angeles stage productions. When she moved to Los Angeles, she worked in TV series like In The House, NYPD Blue, Family Matters, etc.

 

She made her film debut with Drive in 1997, but her breakthrough role was in Blade as Wesley Snipes’s mother.

 

She went on to star in lead roles in films like Life, The Best Man, Love & Basketball, Brown Sugar, Alien vs.

 

Predator, Something New, The Family That Preys, and more. She was also part of the Broadway play, A Raisin in The Sun.

 

She was nominated for several awards during her career. She also won quite a few like, The Black Reel Award, NAACP Image Award, BET Award, Theater World Award, Lucille Lortel Awards, etc.

 

 

44. Lashana Lynch

 

Lashana Lynch

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 27th November 1987
Place of Birth London, United Kingdom
Height 1.75 m
Debut Year 2007
Debut Movie The Bill (TV Series)

 

Lashana Lynch is a British actress who became popular in America with the ABC drama, Still Star-Crossed.

 

This actress of Jamaican descent attended the ArtEd drama school in London. She also received the Laurence Olivier Bursary in 2009during her second year at the school.

 

Lashana started her career with a role in the TV series, The Bill in 2007.

 

But she got her break in films only in 2012 with Fast Girls, which premiered at The Cannes Film Festival.

 

She followed it up with Silent Witness, BBC television film The 7.39, and more such shows.

 

She broke into the American TV screens with Still Star-Crossed, where she played Rosaline Capulet.

 

Lashana starred in the major Hollywood production, Captain Marvel. She played an MI6 agent in No Time to Die, opposite Daniel Craig.

 

She was a part of the comedy film, The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, with Scott Adkins and John Hannah.

 

In 2020, she was selected as 2020 Essence Black Women in Hollywood: Award of Honor with Niecy Nash and Melina Matsoukas.

 

 

43. Tiffany Haddish

 

Tiffany Haddish

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 3rd December 1979
Place of Birth Los Angeles, California
Height 1.67 m
Debut Year 2005
Debut Movie

The Urban Demographic

 

Tiffany Haddish is a standup comedian, actress, and author who has many distinctions under her belt.

 

She started from humble beginnings in foster care homes and even lived out of her car for a while before she hit it big.

 

Despite starting her standup career in 1997, she struggled her way till 2005. Tiffany Haddish claims great comedians like Richard Pryor, Dane Cook, The Wayan Brothers, etc., as her mentors in the comedy world.

 

In 2005, she started to get acting roles like The Urban Demographic, Chelsea Lately, That's So Raven, My Name Is Earl, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and more.

 

She got her spot in the sunshine with her roles in The Carmichael Show, Girls Trip, Keanu, etc.

 

Tiffany Haddish has a few firsts under her belt. She was the first African American standup comedian to host SNL in 2017 and she won a Primetime Emmy Award for her role.

 

She was the only other black comedian to win a Grammy Award for her comedy album, Black Mitzvah.

 

She was nominated for the other album, The Last Black unicorn, in 2019.

 

 

42. Danai Gurira

 

Danai Gurira

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 14th February 1978
Place of Birth Grinnell, Iowa
Height 1.7 m
Debut Year 2004
Debut Movie Law & Order: Criminal Intent (TV Series)

 

Danai Gurira is the daughter of Zimbabwean immigrants who returned to their home country when Danai was just five years old.

 

She returned to the USA for her Bachelors in psychology at Macalester College and Masters in Fine Arts at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

 

As Danai’s parents were academicians, her first choice of career was to teach playwriting in Liberia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

 

Danai Gurira started her acting career on the stage in her college days. She worked as a playwright for Yale Repertory Theater, Center Theater Group, Playwrights Horizons, and the Royal Court.

 

She later took up acting in 2004 with the TV show Law & Order: Criminal Intent, She slowly worked her way to bigger roles like Michonne in The Walking Dead, Treme, and more.

 

In 2018, she stepped into the MCU with her role as Okoye in Black Panther, Avenger: Infinity War, Avengers Endgame, and more.

 

She won many awards and honors for her work. A few of her awards include Saturn Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Black Reel Awards, Satellite Awards, and more.

 

She is well known for her activism and for raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, Hurricane Katrina.

 

She became the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2018.

 

 

41. Beyoncé

 

Beyoncé

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 4th September 1981
Place of Birth Houston, Texas
Height 1.69 m
Debut Year 2001
Debut Movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera 

 

Beyoncé, or Queen Bey as she is lovingly called by her fans, is a well-known and widely acclaimed musician.

 

She is more widely known for her musical career than for her acting. This is one of the reasons why I had dared to list her at this position.

 

She is a black celebrity of top-ranking, yet as an actress, she has not reached her height yet.

 

Beyoncé Knowles made her debut as a musician in 1996 with the band, Destiny’s Child.

 

She was a singer and songwriter who continued to make music with her band as well as charting out a solo career in hip-hop, R&B, and soul music.

 

In 2001, Beyoncé got her first chance to flex her acting muscles with the lead role in Carmen: A Hip Hopera.

 

Since then, she has sporadically acted in some high grossing Hollywood productions like Dreamgirls, The Pink Panther, Cadillac Records, Epic, The Lion King, and more.

 

She even tried her hand at film direction and made musical films like Beyoncé: Lemonade, Black is King, and more.

 

She has had a thriving career in the music and film business. She is a brand ambassador for many brands.

 

Being a savvy businesswoman, she has her own fashion line, The House of Deréon. It is her fashion line that is named after her maternal grandmother, who was a seamstress.

 

Beyonce has also undertaken many philanthropic activities like the Knowles-Rowland Center for Youth, donations for hurricane and earthquake relief funds, and more.

 

 

40. Jada Pinkett Smith

 

Jada Pinkett Smith

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 18th September 1971
Place of Birth Baltimore, Maryland
Height 1.52 m
Debut Year 1990
Debut Movie True Colors

 

Jada Pinkett Smith was artistically gifted since her childhood. After recognizing her affinity for arts, Jada Pinkett’s grandmother enrolled her in piano, dance, and ballet lessons.

 

She moved on to join the Baltimore School of Arts, where she met rapper Tupac Shakur.

 

She was a very close friend of his, and his sensibility influenced her. She made her acting debut in 1990 with a TV sitcom, True Colors.

 

She continued with her TV roles with Doogie Howser M. D., The Bill Cosby Show, etc.

 

She moved to films and acted in an action comedy film, A Low Down Dirty Shame with Keenan Wayans.

 

This role got her good reviews and recognition. She did many more acting and voice roles in movies like Ali, Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, the Madagascar series of films, Girls Trip, Magic Mike XXL, Men In Black 3, and more.

 

She is currently producing and hosting a talks show, Red Table Talk. 2021 has seen her reprise her role as Niobe in Matrix Resurrection.

 

 

39. Zoe Kravitz

 

Zoe Kravitz

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 1st December 1988
Place of Birth Venice, Los Angeles, California
Height 1.57 m
Debut Year 2007
Debut Movie No Reservations

 

Zoë Isabella Kravitz is a multi-talented performer and the daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet.

 

She was bitten by the acting bug quite early in life and started acting while still in high school.

 

Yet she also made her foray into the modeling and music world at the same time.

 

Zoë made her debut in films in 2007 with the role of Catherine Zeta Jones’s babysitter in No Reservations.

 

She followed it up with The Brave One in the same year. She went to star in films like Assassination of a High School President, Divergent series, Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: First Class, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and more.

 

She acted in television as well, with prominent roles in Big Little Lies, High Fidelity, Californication, and more.

 

She is also a part of the music band Elevator Fight, where she is the lead singer and co-writer.

 

Zoë is the face of major fashion brands like YSL Beauté, Tiffany & Co., Vera Wang, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, and more.

 

 

38. Gabrielle Union

 

Gabrielle Union

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 29th October 1972
Place of Birth Omaha, Nebraska
Height 1.71 m
Debut Year 1993
Debut Movie Family Matters

 

Gabrielle Union had an athletic and sportsman life until she stumbled upon showbiz. In high school, she participated in soccer, basketball, and track.

 

In college, she played on the soccer team for the University of Nebraska, where she was doing her Bachelors in sociology.

 

She later moved to UCLA to finish her course. While at UCLA, Gabrielle did an internship program for an LA Modeling agency that offered her a contract as a model after she graduated.

 

Her modeling jobs soon turned to acting jobs when her agent recognized her talent for acting.

 

Gabrielle started with minor roles in shows like Family Matters, Saved by the Bell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sister, Sister, etc.

 

She grew steadily to act in movies like She's All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, Love & Basketball, etc.

 

She did a few action flicks like Cradle 2 the Grave, Breaking In, and Ride Or Die.

 

She also acted in movies like Cadillac Records, Girls Trip, and the upcoming film, Cheaper by the Dozen.

 

Gabrielle Union had planned on becoming a lawyer when she went to college. Though her plans changed, her attitude towards justice did not.

 

She advocates for survivors of assault, and she has spoken out about abortion laws. She also supports the Global Race for The Cure.

 

 

37. Sophie Okonedo

 

Sophie Okonedo

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 11th August 1968
Place of Birth London, United Kingdom
Height 1.73 m
Debut Year 1991
Debut Movie Young Soul Rebels

 

Sophie Okonedo is a British actress who acted in many critically acclaimed roles throughout her career.

 

Her mother was a pilates trainer, and her father was a British-Nigerian government worker. They lived in a community living facility at Chalkhill Estates near Wembley Park.

 

One of the best things that Sophie remembers about her childhood is the easy access to books.

 

After deciding to take up acting as her career, Sophie Okonedo joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to get a strong foothold.

 

She worked in different media of acting like audio drama, stage, and television. Her acting debut was made in 1991 in the coming-of-age drama, Young Soul Rebels.

 

She got her breakthrough role in 2001 with Hotel Rwanda, for which she received several awards and nominations, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actresses.

 

She also worked in films like Aeon Flux, StormBreaker, The Secret Life of Bees, Skin, and more.

 

Over the years, Sophie has amassed an enviable repertoire of credits in theater, television, and film.

 

She also has been nominated for several prestigious awards like the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Black Reel Awards, and more.

 

She became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Birthday Honors and became a Commander in 2019 during the 2019 New Year Honors.

 

 

36. Beah Richards

 

Beah Richards

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 12th July 1920
Place of Birth Vicksburg, Mississippi
Height 1.71 m
Debut Year 1958
Debut Movie The Mugger

 

Beah Richards, was born as Beulah Elizabeth Richardson in Mississippi to a Baptist minister and a seamstress.

 

She moved to New York city in 1950 to make a career in acting. She started with the Off-Broadway theater, with the play, Take a Giant Step.

 

She went on to play other Broadway plays like Purlie Victorious, The Miracle Worker, and A Raisin in the Sun.

 

She graduated from theater to films with roles like The Amen Corner, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Hurry Sundown, The Great White Hope, and more.

 

She also appeared on television shows like  Beauty and the Beast, The Bill Cosby Show, 227, Sanford and Son, Benson, Designing Women, The Facts of Life, The Practice, Murder, She Wrote, and more.

 

Over her long and illustrious career, Beah Richards was awarded several awards and nominations for her outstanding performances on stage, television, and in films.

 

Her nominations include Tony Awards, Academy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and more.

 

She is one of the earliest activists to identify herself as a Black person rather than a Negro.

 

It was a term widely used to refer to the black community.

 

 

35. Pam Grier

 

Pam Grier

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 26th May 1949
Place of Birth Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Height 1.73 m
Debut Year 1970
Debut Movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

 

Pam Grier was the daughter of an Air Force mechanic and technical sergeant, due to which they traveled across the country before they settled in Denver, Colorado.

 

Pam entered the world of showbiz only to raise funds for her college tuition. She worked at American International Pictures as a switchboard operator when she was discovered by director Jack Hill.

 

Pam had entered a few beauty contests and stage productions to raise money for college, and based on this experience, Pam Grier got a small role in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

 

Later, Jack Hill discovered her and cast her in The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage.

 

Pam Grier was a big female action star who acted in many blaxploitation movies. She played the leading role in films like Coffy, Foxy Brown, Black Mama, White Mama, Bucktown, The Arena, Sheba Baby, and more.

 

She worked with Quentin Tarantino in Jackie Brown. He described her as the first female black action star for her many roles as a woman in prison.

 

She has won many awards and nominations for her roles over the years. Her accolades include nominations for a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, an Emmy Award, a Satellite Award, and a Saturn Award.

 

 

34. Tessa Thompson

 

Tessa Thompson

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 3rd October 1983
Place of Birth Los Angeles, California
Height 1.62 m
Debut Year 2006
Debut Movie Cold Case

 

Tessa Thompson is the daughter of a celebrated musician, Marc Anthony Thompson, and granddaughter of the actor-musician, Bobby Ramos.

 

She displayed a talent for the arts from a young age. She acted in the stage productions of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more.

 

Tessa got her break in television with a small role in the television series Cold Case.

 

It was followed up by the part of Jackie Cook in the neo-noir drama Veronica Mars.

 

She also became a series regular in the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. She started taking film roles in movies like When A Stranger Calls, Make it Happen, Mississippi Damned, For Colored Girls, and more.

 

She got critical acclaim for her roles as a civil rights activity in Dear White People and Bianca Taylor in Creed and Creed II.

 

Later, she was cast as Valkyrie in the MCU film Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Endgame, Thor: Love, and Thunder.

 

She won accolades for her roles on stage and in films. Some of her awards and nominations include Black Reel Awards, American Black Film Festival, Gotham Awards, African-American Film Critics Association, Primetime Emmy Awards, Empire Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and more.

 

 

33. Rashida Jones

 

Rashida Jones

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 25th February 1976
Place of Birth Los Angeles, California
Height 1.63 m
Debut Year 1997
Debut Movie The Last Don

 

Rashida Jones was born into a family of entertainment royalty. Her father, Quincy Jones, is an American musician, composer, film, and TV producer.

 

While her mother, Peggy Lipton, was a model, actress, and singer. Growing up, she was a self-proclaimed nerd and would read books after bedtime using her torchlight.

 

She is also a talented singer and songwriter. Rashida debuted in 1997 with the miniseries, The Last Don.

 

She acted for a short while in Freaks and Geeks before she got a weighty role in the legal drama Boston Public.

 

She appeared on a number of comedy shows like The Chappelle Show, Now You Know, Death of a Dynasty, and more.

 

She acted in multiple comedy series like Parks and Recreations, The Office, Saturday Night Live, and more.

 

She also performed in serious cinema like The Social Network, and Monogamy, before turning to comedy with The Muppets, Our Idiot Brother, Friends with Benefits, and more.

 

Apart from acting, Rashida has made notable contributions to writing and directing TV shows and documentaries.

 

She was nominated for honors from Satellite Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, etc.

 

She won a Grammy for Best Music film for Quincy.

 

 

32. Rosario Dawson

 

Rosario Dawson

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 9th May 1979
Place of Birth New York, New York
Height 1.7 m
Debut Year 1995
Debut Movie Kids

 

Rosario Dawson was born in New York, but she grew up in Texas. She was discovered by a photographer, and director pair, Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, at the age of 15.

 

She was on her front porch when they saw her and felt that she was perfect for the role in Kids.

 

Rosario Dawson went on to play parts in a wide range of films from Independent films, like Rent, He Got Game, to huge blockbusters like Men In Black II.

 

She appeared in a Merchant-Ivory film, Side Streets. She acted in Josie and the PussyCats, Light it Up, Sin City, Wonder Woman, Unstoppable and more.

 

She also debuted in television with roles in Robot Chicken and Gemini Division. She played the role of MCU’s Claire Temple in Daredevil, Jessica Jone, Luke Cage, and more.

 

She also entered the Star Wars universe with the part of Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian.

 

She is getting her own show where she plays Ahsoka. She was nominated for BET Awards, Black Reel Awards, MTV Movie Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Critics Choice Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, and more.

 

 

31. Ethel Waters

 

Ethel Waters

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 31st October 1896
Place of Birth Chester, Pennsylvania
Height 1.77 m
Debut Year 1933
Debut Movie Rufus Jones for President 

 

Ethel Waters can be considered a path-breaking and pioneering performer in black entertainers. She started on Broadway as a jazz singer.

 

She sang blues, swing, and pop music too. She is the second African American performer to receive an Academy Award nomination.

 

She had a very difficult childhood and early life. She worked as a maid in the Philadelphia hotel when she attended a costume party where she sang a few songs.

 

Her voice mesmerized the audience. Thus began her prolific music career. In 1933, she starred in a satirical black comedy Rufus Jones for President, which co-starred Sammy Davis Jr.

 

She continued to star in musicals and Broadway shows like Cabin in the Sky, As Thousands Cheer, The Emperor Jones, and more.

 

In 1939, she was the first black artist to get her own television show, The Ethel Waters Show on NBC.

 

She was also the first black artist to get a Primetime Emmy nomination. For her appearance in Elia Kazan’s, Pinky, she got an Academy Award nomination in 1949.

 

She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 

 

30. Marianne Jean-Baptiste

 

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 26th April 1967
Place of Birth Camberwell, London, UK
Height 1.55 m
Debut Year 1991
Debut Movie London Kills Me

 

Marianne Jean-Baptiste is a Londoner born to immigrants from Antigua and Saint Lucia. This multi-talented artist was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

 

She performed at the Royal National Theater before she entered the world of television and film.

 

Marianne made her debut into the film world in 1991 with small parts in London Kills Me and Once Upon a Time.

 

She also appeared in the TV series, Cracker before her breakthrough performance in Secrets & Lies.

 

For her role as Hortense Cumberbatch, she was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe.

 

Continuing her collaboration with director Mike Leigh, she composed the score for Career Girls. She worked on other critically acclaimed TV series like The Wedding, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, Without a Trace, Private Practice, Blindspot, Homecoming, and more.

 

She also took film roles in Takers, Secrets in The Wall, Harry’s Law, etc.

 

 

29. Vanessa Williams

 

Vanessa Williams

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 18th March 1963
Place of Birth Bronx, New York, USA
Height 1.68 m
Debut Year 1979
Debut Movie Live from Lincoln Center

 

Vanessa Lynn Williams was born into a family of music teachers and performers. Both her parents were music teachers, and her brother was an actor.

 

This encouraged her to always aim higher. In 1983, She became the first African-American Miss America 1984.

 

She was blackmailed with nude pictures in Penthouse magazine, and the Miss America pageant pressured her to relinquish her title.

 

Vanessa bounced back by launching her music career. She went on to release eight studio albums that tasted commercial success.

 

She debuted on television with the show Live from Lincoln Center as one of the graduates.

 

She appeared in small bits in shows like Partners in Crime, T. J. Hooker, Fresh Prince Of BelAir, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Ally McBeal, and more.

 

In 2007, she was finally cast in a significant role in successful shows like Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, 666 Park Avenue, etc.

 

Simultaneously, Vanessa was also appearing in films. A few of her movies include Bye Bye Birdie, Soul Food, Dance With Me, Erasure, Shaft, My Brother, Light it Up, and more.

 

She received several awards and nominations including, Tony Award nominations, multiple Emmy nominations, seven NAACP awards, four Satellite Awards, Grammy nominations, and more.

 

 

28. Ruby Dee

 

Ruby Dee

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 27th October 1922
Place of Birth Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Height 1.58 m
Debut Year 1946
Debut Movie That Man Of Mine

 

Ruby Dee was an actress, screenwriter, playwright, civil rights activist, and more. She graduated from Hunter College with a degree in romance languages, French and Spanish.

 

Then, she moved to New York and joined the American Negro Theater. Ruby apprenticed with greats like Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Hilda Simms, etc.

 

Ruby Dee debuted in 1946 with the movie, That Man of Mine while she continued to work on Broadway shows with ANT.

 

She continued to play small parts in movies until 1950 when she was cast in The Jackie Robinson Story.

 

This role gave her national recognition. She performed in the American Shakespeare Festival and played roles in The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear.

 

She was the first black American to perform at this festival. When the play Raisin in the Sun was turned into a film, Ruby was cast with Sidney Poitier.

 

She was also cast in Edge of the City opposite Poitier. She went on to act with her husband, Ossie Davis, in movies like No Way Out, Gone Are The Days, Cool Red, Do The Right Thing, and more.

 

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were personal friends of Martin Luther King Jr.and Malcolm X.

 

They were both civil rights activists who worked tirelessly for the community. She won awards, like Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Obie Awards.

 

She received the National Medal of Arts and The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Award.

 

 

27. Diana Ross

 

Diana Ross

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 26th March 1944
Place of Birth Detroit, Michigan, USA
Height 1.64 m
Debut Year 1968
Debut Movie Tarzan (TV Series)

 

Diana Ross is more famous for her singing and music rather than her acting. Yet, her very first film was nominated for an Academy Award and established her as a strong actress.

 

She continued to act in musical films and singing as well. Diana Ross started her career by singing in the girl group, The Supremes, till 1970.

 

She then started her solo career with the eponymous debut album. She churned out one chart-topping song after another.

 

She also ventured into television with appearances in TV specials, variety shows, TV concerts, and more.

 

In 1968, Diana acted in her first acting role in Tarzan for television. Next, she performed in the film Lady Sings The Blues in 1971.

 

This was her debut film, and Diana received an Academy Award nomination for her role.

 

Later, she also acted in Mahogany, The Wiz, Out of Darkness, and Double Platinum. Diana Ross has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and nominations.

 

She won several awards that include the American Music Awards, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Tony Award, Golden Globe Award, NAACP Award, and more.

 

She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (from the French govt.), and more.

 

 

26. Oprah Winfrey

 

Oprah Winfrey

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 29th January 1954
Place of Birth Kosciusko, Mississippi, USA
Height 1.69 m
Debut Year 1985
Debut Movie The Color Purple

 

Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey, as per her birth certificate. However, her name was mispronounced so often that the wrong name stuck with her.

 

She was born into abject poverty and an abusive environment. All through her childhood, she suffered physical and sexual abuse.

 

Finally, she was sent to live with her father, Vernon Winfrey. Despite being strict, Vernon was encouraging toward Oprah and steered her to study hard.

 

Oprah started her career with the Radio News channel then moved to daytime talk show hosting.

 

With her talking skills, she turned a failing talk show into a number one program.

 

This gave her career a direction and led to her own show, The Oprah Winfrey Show.

 

She interviewed celebrities, big and small. Her discussions centered around confession, self-help, spirituality, and such topics.

 

In 1985, Steven Spielberg cast Oprah in his film The Color Purple. She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role.

 

She later acted in films like The Women of Brewster Place, Beloved, The Bee Movie, The Butler, Selma, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and more.

 

She has also starred in multiple TV shows as herself. She also produced many shows and movies.

 

Oprah has been nominated for multiple awards including, Academy Awards, Daytime Emmys for her talk shows, Golden Globes, NAACP Image Awards, Peabody Award, People Choice award, and more.

 

She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and more.

 

 

25. Tracee Ellis Ross

 

Tracee Ellis Ross

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 29th October 1972
Place of Birth Los Angeles, California, USA
Height 1.7 m
Debut Year 1996
Debut Movie Far Harbor

 

Tracee Ellis Ross is the daughter of Diana Ross, singer, and actor extraordinaire, and music producer Robert Ellis Silberstein.

 

She was born Tracee Joy Silberstein but changed her stage name after joining the industry.

 

She is an actress, singer, television host, director, and producer. While she wears many hats as an artist and businesswoman, she has garnered accolades for her acting chops.

 

Tracee Ellis Ross debuted in 1996 with a role in Far Harbor, about a Jewish/African-American woman.

 

She followed it up with a variety of roles in The Dish, Sue, Race Against Fear: A Moment of Truth, The Lyricist Lounge Show, and more.

 

She got her breakthrough role in the UPN/CW series, Girlfriends. This role brought her recognition and she went on to star in Life Support, Labor Pains, Daddy’s Little Girls, and more.

 

Her career hit another high when she was cast in the lead role in the TV series, Reed Between The Lines and later, Black-ish.

 

Both roles were highly acclaimed. She also starred in CSI and Private Practice. She continued her acting roles in I-See-You.

 

Com, Hanging up, and more. Tracee received high praise and accolades for her roles. Her awards include BET Comedy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Golden Globe Awards, People's Choice Awards, etc.

 

Her nominations include Black Reel Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, Satellite Awards, Hollywood Critics Choice Awards, and more.

 

 

24. Kerry Washington

 

Kerry Washington

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 31st January 1977
Place of Birth Bronx, New York, USA
Height 1.63 m
Debut Year 1994
Debut Movie ABC Afterschool Specials (TV Series)

 

Kerry Washington is the daughter of a college professor, Valerie Washington, and a real estate broker, Earl Washington.

 

She studied in a private school, Spence School, where Gwenyth Paltrow, Emmy Rossum studied. She later attended George Washington University to get a double major in Anthropology and Sociology.

 

She also studied acting at the Michael Howard Studio in New York City. She debuted on TV in the ABC Afterschool Special in the episode Magical Makeover.

 

Next, she was cast in the PBS comedy-educational show Standard Deviants. She got bit roles in movies like Our Song, The Human Stain, Bad Company, Save The Last Dance, etc.

 

She finally got noticed and got good reviews in the 2004 Spike Lee movie, She Hates Me.

 

Kerry was cast as Ray Charle’s wife in Ray. She got bigger parts after this.

 

She was in I Think I Love My Wife, Mr & Mrs. Smith, Little Man, The Last King Of Scotland, etc.

 

Kerry Washington’s career took a turn for the better, and she was cast in a recurring part in Boston Legal.

 

Later, Quentin Tarantino gave her the character of Jamie Foxx’s wife in Django Unchained. The same year, she got the lead role in the ABC drama, Scandal.

 

These roles brought her international acclaim and several awards and accolades, including Primetime Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, NAACP Image awards, and more.

 

 

23. Thandiwe Newton

 

Thandiwe Newton

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 6th November 1972
Place of Birth Westminster, London, UK
Height 1.6 m
Debut Year 1991
Debut Movie Flirting

 

Thandiwe Newton is the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother and a British father. She was always interested in dance and performance arts.

 

However, she had to quit dance after a back injury. She took up acting after playing a role in John Duigan’s Flirting.

 

Thandiwe moved to Los Angeles after this and played small parts in films like Interview with the Vampire.

 

She played minor roles in big movies like the Merchant-Ivory film Jefferson In Paris, Journey of the August King, Gridlock’d, Besieged, and more.

 

In 1998, she acted in Beloved, which earned her multiple nominations. It was followed by Mission Impossible II, The Truth About Charlie, Crash, and more acclaimed films.

 

She also acted in Chronicles of Riddick, In Pursuit of Happiness, For Colored Girls, etc.

 

They cemented her prominence in Hollywood. Thandiwe Newton also forayed into television with roles in ER, Slap, and big roles in WestWorld, Line of Duty, Big Mouth, etc.

 

Thandiwe won critical acclaim with awards like Critics Choice Award, Black Reel Awards, Satellite Awards, BAFTAs, SAG Awards, and many more nominations at the NAACP Image Awards, Empire Awards, and more.

 

 

22. Zendaya

 

Zendaya

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 1st January 1996
Place of Birth Oakland, California, USA
Height 1.74 m
Debut Year 2010
Debut Movie Shake It Up (TV Series)

 

Zendaya is a versatile artist who displayed her talents from a very young age. She started her career as a model for large clothing chains like Macy’s, Mervyns, Old Navy, and more.

 

She also performed on stage at a young age in plays like Once on this Island, Caroline or Change, Twelfth Night, Richard III, and more.

 

In 2010, Zendaya debuted on television in the Disney sitcom, Shake it Up!, where she plays Rocky Blue.

 

She continued this role in Good Luck Charlie. She also voiced animated characters in TinkerBell: Pixie Hollow Games.

 

Zendaya used her singing talent from the Disney show and released singles like Swag It Out, Watch Me, and more.

 

She also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, Zapped, Frenemies, etc. In 2017, Zendaya got her movie break with the role of MJ in Spiderman: Homecoming.

 

She followed it up with a strong performance in The Greatest Showman. This year, Zendaya acted in four movies Spiderman: No Way Home, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune, and Malcolm & Marie.

 

Apart from singing, dancing, and acting, Zendaya is also active in the fashion scene. She is the face of major brands like Beats Electronics, X-Out, CoverGirl, Chi Hair Care, and Material Girl.

 

She also released a book called, Between U and Me: How to Rock Your Tween Years with Style and Confidence.

 

Zendaya launched her brand of footwear and clothing, called Daya, that are gender fluid.

 

 

21. Zoe Saldana

 

Zoe Saldana

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 19th June 1978
Place of Birth Passaic, New Jersey, USA
Height 1.7 m
Debut Year 1999
Debut Movie Law & Order (TV Series)

 

Zoe Saldana Perego is of Puerto Rican and Dominican ancestry. From the age of 10, for the next seven years, she stayed in the Dominican Republic with her family.

 

Here she developed a liking for dance, ballet, and theater. She joined the prestigious Ecos Espacio de Danza Dance Academy and learned all types of dance.

 

After returning to America, she joined the theater group, Faces. Through her theater group, Zoe got her first break in 1999 in the TV series Law & Order.

 

In her first film role, she played a young ballet student in Center Stage in 2000.

 

Her performance in Crossroads received negative reviews, but it was a commercial success. Zoe went on to act in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Terminal, and more.

 

In 2009, Zoe was cast in the science fiction movies Star Trek and Avatar, which were major blockbusters.

 

It led to roles like Star Trek: Into Darkness, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek Contact, Avengers, and more.

 

Zoe received well-deserved praise for her roles with nominations like MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Black Reel Awards, Kids Choice Awards, and more.

 

 

20. Ruth Negga

 

Ruth Negga

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 7th January 1982
Place of Birth Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Height 1.6 m
Debut Year 2004
Debut Movie Doctors (TV series)

 

Ruth Negga is an Ethiopian-Irish actress who gained acclaim with her roles in Loving and Preacher.

 

She was born in Addis Ababa to an Ethiopian doctor and an Irish nurse. After the death of her father, the family moved back to Limerick, Ireland.

 

Ruth did her BA in Acting Studies from Samuel Beckett Center in Trinity College in Dublin.

 

In 2004, Ruth Negga debuted on the big screen and the telly. She acted in the lead role in the movie Capital Letters, which was highly acclaimed.

 

She also starred in an episode of Doctors. Her performance was greatly loved. The director, Niel Jordan, altered the script of Breakfast on Pluto to cast Ruth in it.

 

She went on to act in big movies like Loving, Colour Me Kubrick, World War Z, 12 Years a Slave, Warcraft, and more.

 

She also appeared in TV series like Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D., Secret State, Preacher, and more.

 

Negga was applauded with many nominations for her performances, like Laurence Olivier Award, Irish Film & Television Academy, Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Film Awards, Gotham Independent Film Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and more.

 

She also won accolades like New York Film Critics Online, Black Reel Awards, Chicago Film Critics Online Award, Irish Film & Television Academy, and more.

 

 

19. Lena Horne

 

Lena Horne

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 30th June 1917
Place of Birth Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, USA
Height 1.65 m
Debut Year 1935
Debut Movie Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party (Short)

 

Lena Horner was born into a privileged upper-middle-class family of well-educated black people. She was a descendant of the influential John C. Calhoun, and her grand uncle was an inventor. Lena attended the Girls High School before moving to Pittsburgh to live with her father in Little Harlem.

 

Here, she learned from composers and jazz exponents, Billy Strayhorn and Billy Eckstein. After returning to New York, Lena joined the Cotton Club and debuted in the musical short Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party in 1935.

 

She built a thriving nightclub career and her musical talent was legendary. She made her Broadway and film debut in 1938 with The Duke is Tops, Panama Hattie, and musicals like Stormy Weather.

 

Her performance in Cabin In The Sky was one of her finest performances. However, Lena was increasingly offered roles in musicals, and she did not find them stimulating.

 

Before going on hiatus, she starred in Boogie Woogie Dreams, Mantan Messes Up, Meet Me Las Vegas, and more.

 

She returned to acting with Death Of The Gun Fighter and The Wiz which were not musicals.

 

Lena had a long and prosperous career in music, theater, film, and television. She was nominated and received multiple Grammy awards.

 

She was nominated for Tony Awards and Emmy Awards. Lena was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr.

 

International Civil Rights Walk Of Fame and received a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards.

 

 

18. Diahann Carroll

 

Diahann Carroll

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 17th July 1935
Place of Birth Bronx, New York, USA
Height 1.65
Debut Year 1954
Debut Movie Carmen Jones

 

Diahann Carroll was born Carol Diann Johnson, and she changed her name once she started performing.

 

Music was a big part of her life while growing up. Her parents were supportive of Diahann Carrol when she displayed a talent for the arts.

 

She was enrolled in the Music And Arts High School with her Metropolitan Opera Scholarship.

 

Diahann gained fame when she entered the music talent show Chance of a Lifetime and won the top prize.

 

She was booked to perform at nightclubs and Cafe Society. In 1954, she finally got her big break with Carmen Jones.

 

She starred alongside Dorothy Dandridge and gained notice. She was also cast in the Broadway musical House of Flowers and received a Tony nomination for it.

 

After this, there was no looking back. She starred in movies like Porgy and Bess, Hurry Sundown, Mo’Better Blues, Claudine, and more.

 

She was also active on television with soap operas like Dynasty, Burke’s Law, Soul Food, Grey’s Anatomy, White Collar, and more.

 

In her accomplished career, Diahann Carroll was nominated for an Academy Award, multiple Primetime Emmy Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, and multiple Golden Globes.

 

She won a Tony Award and a Golden Globe award.

 

 

17. Cynthia Erivo

 

Cynthia Erivo

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 8th January 1987
Place of Birth Stockwell, London, UK
Height 1.54 m
Debut Year 2015
Debut Movie Chewing Gum (TV Series)

 

Cynthia Erivo was born to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, London. She was pursuing her degree in music psychology at the University of East London before she had a change of heart and joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

 

She arrived on the theater scene with a play called Marine Parade. She gained prominence with her role in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

 

She followed it up with a musical, I Was Looking at the Ceiling, and Then I Saw the Sky.

 

She acted in other plays like Sister Act and Color Purple. Cynthia Erivo took up her first TV role in 2015 with Chewing Gum, followed by Mr. Selfridges, The Tunnel, and many more. She started to get movie roles in 2018 with Widows and Bad Times at El Royale.

 

Last year, she acted in the dystopian action film Chaos Walking and the science fiction Needle in the Time stack.

 

In her short career till now, Cynthia won a Tony Award and a Grammy for her musical, Color Purple.

 

She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the biopic Harriet.

 

She also received a Primetime Emmy nomination for her portrayal in the National Geographic anthology series Genius Aretha.

 

 

16. Alfre Woodard

 

Alfre Woodard

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 8th November 1952
Place of Birth Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Height 1.6 m
Debut Year 1978
Debut Movie The Trial of the Moke (TV Movie)

 

Alfre Woodard was named by her godmother, who had a vision of her with the word Alfre written in gold.

 

In her high school, she was persuaded by a nun to audition for a play, and it created her interest in acting.

 

Alfre joined Boston University to study drama. In the early 70s, Alfre acted in professional theater plays for a brief period before moving to Los Angeles to try her luck with movies.

 

In 1976, she gave a breakthrough performance in the Off-Broadway play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

 

Alfre got her first role in 1978 with Remember My Name and The Trial of the Moke.

 

There was no looking back with television roles and film roles. She acted in Grand Canyon, Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag, How to Make an American Quilt, Cross Creek, Primal Fear, Star Trek: First Contact, and more.

 

On television, she acted in shows like Hill Street Blues, L. A. Law, St Elsewhere, and more.

 

Alfre was critically praised for her role in 12 Years a Slave, Juanita, Clemency, Anabelle, etc., in recent years.

 

She has many awards and nominations like Primetime Emmy Award, Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, Independent Spirit awards, and more.

 

 

15. Whoopi Goldberg

 

Whoopi Goldberg

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 11th November 1955
Place of Birth Chelsea, New York, USA
Height 1.65 m
Debut Year 1985
Debut Movie The Color Purple

 

Whoopi Goldberg is an actress and comedian of rare caliber. She is one of the only 16 performers to receive all four major awards, Emmy award, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards that are awarded for different media of performance.

 

Whoopi started her career on stage in an avant-garde play called Citizen, I’m Not Losing my Mind, I’m Giving It Away.

 

She was discovered by Mike Nichols, whom she considers her mentor. She worked in theaters while also doing comedy shows and stand-up shows.

 

Steven Spielberg saw her and cast her in Color Purple, which marked her film debut.

 

After this, Whoopi broke into the film and TV world with her comedy acts. It is difficult to list out all her roles, but her most laudable performances include Ghost, Sister Act, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, National Lampoons: Loaded weapons, The Lion King, Corina Corina, Star Trek Generations, Ghosts of Mississippi, For Colored Girls and more.

 

She also appeared on TV with various talk shows and comedy shows. Most prominent was her show, The View.

 

Her theater roles in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and more are well received.

 

In fact, she got her name Whoopi from her theater days, when she would often get gassy.

 

Her birth name is Caryn Elaine Johnson.

 

 

14. Naomie Harris

 

Naomie Harris

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 6th September 1976
Place of Birth Islington, London, UK
Height 1.73 m
Debut Year 1987
Debut Movie Simon and the Witch (TV Series)

 

Naomie Harris is a British actress who has played many memorable and iconic roles in her career.

 

She was raised by a single mother, who was from Jamaica. When Naomie showed interest in acting, she was encouraged.

 

She joined the Anna Scher Theater as a child and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theater School after graduating from Pembroke College.

 

She started her career on television with a recurring role in Simon and the Witch.

 

She later acted in Runaway Bay, The Tomorrow People, Dream Team, and more. She debuted in films in 2001 with small parts in Crust, Living in Hope, etc., before her lead role in 28 Days Later.

 

She also acted in movies like Miami Vice, After The Sunset, Trauma, and more. She played the iconic role of Tia Dalma in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which garnered international fame.

 

She acted in another major franchise of James Bond films as Ms. Moneypenny. She appeared in Spectre, Skyfall, and No Time To Die.

 

She also performed in Mandela: Long Walk Home, Moonlight, SouthPaw, Our Kind of Traitor, and more.

 

Naomie Harris received high praise for her performance in Moonlight and was nominated for an Academy Award, A BAFTA, and a Golden Globe for her performance.

 

For her outstanding acting talents, she was honored with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 New Year Honors for services to drama.

 

 

13. Angela Bassett

 

Angela Bassett

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 16th August 1958
Place of Birth New York, New York, USA
Height 1.63 m
Debut Year 1985
Debut Movie Ryan's Hope (TV Series)

 

Angela Bassett is an actress with a rich and varied repertoire of work that has received much praise and appreciation over the years.

 

After her parents split, Angela and her mother moved to Florida with her sister. Here, Angela was given free rein to explore her academic ability.

 

She was an Upward Bound student who mostly got ‘A’s and an occasional ‘B’. She was a member of the debate society and the American Honor society.

 

After finishing her MFA from Yale University, Angela took up Theater in New York. She acted in plays like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Black Girl, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and more.

 

In 1985, she started her roles in television series and telefilms like Ryan’s Hope, Search For Tomorrow, Spencer for Hire, and more.

 

The following year, she got her first film role in F/X. For the next four years, she continued to act in TV, till she started to get bigger parts in movies.

 

She appeared in films like Kindergarten Cop, Critters 4, Perry Mason: In the Case of the Silenced Singer.

 

Her role in Boyz n the Hood got her noticed and attracted meatier roles. She played main roles in movies like Malcolm X, Panther, What's Love Got to Do with It, The Jacksons: An American Dream, Notorious, The Green Lantern, Betty and Coretta, and more.

 

In recent years, she also acted in Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, London Has Fallen, and more.

 

In her long and illustrious career, Angella has garnered many accolades and nominations. three Black Reel Awards, seven NAACP Image Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, and more.

 

She was also nominated for an Academy Award and seven Primetime Emmy Awards.

 

 

12. Taraji P. Henson

 

Taraji P. Henson

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 11th September 1970
Place of Birth Washington, D.C., USA
Height 1.63 m
Debut Year 1997
Debut Movie The Parent 'Hood (TV Series)

 

Taraji P. Henson is a celebrated actress whose name means Hope and Love in Swahili.

 

She finished her high school education in Maryland and joined the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to study electrical engineering.

 

After the first year, she shifted to Howard University to study drama. To fund her college, she worked as a secretary at the Pentagon and worked as a singing-dancing waitress.

 

She started her career with background parts in TV serials like The Parent Hood, Smart Guy, Sister, Sister, ER, and more.

 

She debuted in films with a role in Streetwise. But, it was only in 2001 that she received recognition, with her role in Baby Boy opposite Tyrese Gibson.

 

Her role in Hustle & Flow was highly praised, and she followed it up with a Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

 

She also acted in comedy/action roles like Date Night, The Karate Kid with Jaden Smith, and more.

 

She also had a flourishing acting career in television. She appeared in some of the biggest TV shows like Empire, Boston Legal, The Division, Eli Stone, Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story, Person of Interest, and more.

 

In 2016, she acted in another highly acclaimed film Hidden Figures, for which she received many nominations.

 

Taraji Henson has 75 nominations for her acting, and she won 25 awards. A few of the awards she won are BET Awards, Black Reel Awards, Critics Choice Television Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Golden Globe, MTV Movie & TV Awards, NAACP Image Awards, etc.

 

She was nominated for an Academy Award for Hustle & Flow but did not win it.

 

 

11. Queen Latifah

 

Queen Latifah

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 18th March 1970
Place of Birth Newark, New Jersey, USA
Height 1.78 m
Debut Year 1991
Debut Movie The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

 

Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens. She was a basketball player in high school and a singer.

 

She started off by beatboxing for a hip-hop group. She was heavily into rap music, and she appeared with artists like Ice Cube, Lil’ Kim, and more.

 

She concentrated on her music career from 1988 till 1991, when she started off on TV and film.

 

In 1991, she appeared in a guest role on the second season of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

 

The same year she also acted in the comedy House Party 2. Later, she was cast in the action thriller, Juice with Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur, and in Jungle Fever.

 

Queen Latifah did a few action thriller and crime movies like Set it Out, Hoodlum, Sphere, The Bone Collector, and more.

 

Yet, it was the comedy movies that brought her a loyal fan base and following.

 

She was in back-to-back comedies like Chicago, Living out Loud, Bringing Down the House, Taxi, The Cookout, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Beauty Shop, etc.

 

Her role in the Ice-Age animated series as Ellie the female mammoth won hearts from around the world.

 

Queen Latifah won praise and acclaim with her flourishing music career, television career, and film roles.

 

She also had her own successful talk show called, The Queen Latifah Show. Queen Latifah received critical acclaim for her portrayal of blues singer Bessie Smith in the film Bessie.

 

In 2020, she portrayed Hattie McDaniel in the miniseries Hollywood. Queen Latifah won a Primetime Emmy for producing the TV movie Bessie.

 

She also has an Oscar nomination under her belt for Chicago.

 

 

10. Mo'Nique

 

Mo'Nique

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 11th December 1967
Place of Birth Woodlawn, Maryland, USA
Height 1.69 m
Debut Year 1999
Debut Movie Moesha (TV Series)

 

Monique Angela Hicks is a multi-talented performer. She is a talented actress, a stand-up comedian, a talk show host, and an author.

 

She can confidently step onto the stage of stand-up comedy and get a standing ovation from her very first show.

 

Mo’Nique started her career with the role of Nikki Parker in the show Moesha in its fourth season.

 

In the same year, she went on to play the lead role of Nikki Parker on the show The Parkers.

 

She also starred in TV series like The Game, Nip/Tuck, Ugly Betty, The Boondocks, The game, and more.

 

She also hosted the talk show, The Mo’Nique Show. Her film debut occurred in 2000 in the comedy film 3 Strikes.

 

She acted in other comedies like Queens of Comedy, Two can Play That Game, Hair Show, Garfield: The Movie, Phat Girlz, Welcome Home Roscoe, and more.

 

In 2009, she acted in an American drama movie, Precious. It elicited her critical acclaim as a serious actor, too.

 

For her role in Precious, Mo’Nique received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a New York Film Critics Circle Award, Chicago Film Critics Association Award, Independent Spirit Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA Film Award, and more.

 

For her role in Bessie, she received a Primetime Emmy Award. She also has a Grammy Award nomination for Best Comedy Album in 2002.

 

 

9. Regina King

 

Regina King

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 15th January 1971
Place of Birth Los Angeles, California, USA
Height 1.6 m
Debut Year 1985
Debut Movie 227 (TV Series)

 

Regina King had been listed by Time magazine in 2019 as one of the most influential people in the world.

 

She studied communications at the University of Southern California but dropped out to pursue her passion for acting.

 

Regina King started her career in 1985 with a role in the TV series 227.

 

After this show ended, she got her first film role in Boyz n the Hood.

 

She was cast in two more John Singleton films, Poetic Justice and Higher Learning. She caught a taste for comedy films with Friday and a Martin Lawrence comedy, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.

 

This got her noticed, but her next role in Jerry Maguire gave her instant fame.

 

She also acted in television series like The Boondocks, Southland, American Crime, a Netflix show, Seven Seconds, and more.

 

In 2018, she starred in If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel.

 

This got her an Academy Award and a Golden Globe too. Her next venture, Watchmen, was also nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards.

 

In her career, Regina King won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe, four Primetime Emmy Awards, four BET Awards, six Black Reel Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards, five NAACP Image awards, and many more.

 

 

8. Jennifer Hudson

 

Jennifer Hudson

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 12th September 1981
Place of Birth Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height 1.75 m
Debut Year 2006
Debut Movie Dreamgirls

 

Jennifer Hudson was the finalist of the third season of American Idol. But that was not the end of the show for Jennifer.

 

After the show, she started work on her first album titled Jennifer Hudson. This self-titled album was released in 2008.

 

In the meantime, her acting career also took off. In 2006, Jennifer Hudson was cast to play the role of Effie White, a singer in a girl group.

 

She won an Academy Awards for her role. She followed this up with another strong performance in The Secret Life of Bees.

 

She also acted in Sex and The City, Fragments–Winged Creatures, Winnie Mandela, Sing, Black Nativity, and more.

 

She also worked on TV series as well as her music during this time. She released two albums, I Remember Me and JHUD, in 2011 and 2014. respectively.

 

On TV, she made appearances on talent shows like X-Factor, Voice UK, Voice US, Hairspray Live!, and more.

 

She acted in Empire, Confirmation, Inside Amy Schumer, etc. Jennifer Hudson won multiple prestigious awards like the Academy Awards, two Black Reel Awards, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Critics Choice Movie Award, Daytime Emmy Award, a SAG Award, two Grammy Awards, two BET Awards, and many more nominations.

 

 

7. Hattie McDaniel

 

Hattie McDaniel

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 10th June 1893
Place of Birth Wichita, Kansas, USA
Height 1.57 m
Debut Year 1932
Debut Movie Golden West

 

Hattie McDaniel was the first black performer ever to win an Academy Award. However, she faced racial discrimination and segregation at every step of her life.

 

Being the daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Hattie started her career in singing and performance with her sisters and brother at an early age.

 

After the Great Depression, she lost opportunities and moved to Los Angeles to try acting.

 

After a lot of struggles, Hattie got her first role as a maid in the 1932 film Golden West.

 

She starred in a few more films before she got a major role in Judge Priest.

 

Most of the roles she played were of a maid. But, she got to display her talent for singing.

 

She became a part of the background choruses, as well. Through the years, she became friends with a lot of Hollywood stars.

 

Her most significant role came in 1939, in Gone With the Wind. In the movie, she played a maid, but this role earned her an Oscar.

 

Although most of her parts were that of maids and servants, she still managed to steal the scene with her performance as a sassy talker.

 

Even after the Oscar win, she continued to act mostly as the domestic in all her films.

 

She died at the age of 59 years from Breast Cancer. Her final wish was to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery, but it was not fulfilled as it was a White Only cemetery, and she was not allowed entry.

 

Hattie was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall OF Fame, and she got two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

 

6. Cicely Tyson

 

Cicely Tyson

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 19th December 1924
Place of Birth Bronx, New York, USA
Height 1.6 m
Debut Year 1957
Debut Movie Carib Gold

 

Cicely Tyson was born in a religious household that regularly attended church, and she too sang in a choir.

 

When Cicely decided to take up acting as a career, her mother was deeply distressed and refused to speak to her for a while.

 

But, one thing that Cicely did not compromise with was the kind of characters she played.

 

They were always strong and determined women. Cicely Tyson was discovered by a fashion photographer for Ebony magazine.

 

She did a few modeling assignments before she considered acting. She worked on a few stage plays like Dark Side of The Moon by Vinnette Carroll.

 

She debuted in films in 1957 with the film Carib Gold. She went on to play small parts in films like Odds Against and Last Angry Man.

 

She also acted in television dramas like Frontiers of Faith, East Side/West Side, Guiding Light, etc.

 

While continuing to work on plays and off-Broadway shows, Cicely Tyson acted in the acclaimed movie, Sounder.

 

She also acted in the TV film, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Roots, King, The Marva Collins Story, Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story, and more.

 

All these roles were critically acclaimed. If we have to count the honors and accolades given to Cicely Tyson, she was nominated for an Academy Award, A Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA, multiple Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and more.

 

She won an honorary Academy Award, a Tony Award, three Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and a SAG Award.

 

She was also honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

 

 

5. Viola Davis

 

Viola Davis

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 11th August 1965
Place of Birth Saint Matthews, South Carolina, USA
Height 1.65 m
Debut Year 1996
Debut Movie The Substance Of Fire

 

Viola Davis is the most nominated black actress in the history of Academy Awards with four nominations.

 

She studied at Rhode Island College, majoring in theater. She attended the Juilliard School in the drama division from 1989 to 93.

 

Viola acted in Shakespeare’s As You Like It in the Off-Broadway debut. She acted in the Broadway original Seven Guitars in 1996.

 

The performance was highly praised, and she made her television debut in The Substance of Fire in the same year.

 

She played small roles in bit parts in NYPD Blue, New York Undercover, The Pentagon Wars, Out Of Sight, and more.

 

In 2001, she acted in the Tony Award-winning play, King Hedley II. She continued her movie roles with Solaris, Traffic, Syriana, Kate & Leopold, Far From Heaven, and more.

 

In 2008, she acted in the film adaptation of the Broadway play Doubt. Her performance was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and more.

 

In 2010, she had another Academy Award nomination with Fences. She also won her second Tony award that year.

 

Viola Davis has a total tally of 309 nominations and 139 awards, including an Academy Award, A Golden Globe Award, a BET Award, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, six SAG Awards, four Black Reel Awards, four Critics Choice Movie Awards, and more.

 

 

4. Dorothy Dandridge

 

Dorothy Dandridge

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 9th November 1922
Place of Birth Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Height 1.65 m
Debut Year 1935
Debut Movie Teacher's Beau (Short)

 

Dorothy Dandridge is the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

 

She was a successful actress, singer, and dancer that had to face a lot of racial segregation and discrimination despite her talent.

 

Dorothy and her sister, Ruby, started their career singing as a part of the group, The Wonder Children.

 

They were later renamed The Dandridge Sisters and toured America. In the depression era, they moved to LA to star in movies and get a steady income.

 

She started off with a short, The Teacher’s Beau in Our Gang, and played many bit roles in films.

 

To keep up the income, they performed at nightclubs like Cotton Club, The Apollo Theater, and more.

 

In the 1940s, she started to get credited roles in films like Four Shall Die, Lady From Louisiana, Sundown, and more.

 

She strongly refused the stereotypical black maid roles. She acted in musical films like Sun Valley Serenade, Hit Parade of 1943, Pillow To Post, Tarzan’s Peril, and more.

 

In 1953, Carmen Jones was made with an all-black cast, with Dorothy Dandridge in the lead.

 

The film was nominated for an Academy Award. But, even now, studios were reluctant to cast her in major roles due to her race.

 

She appeared in movies like Island in the Sun, The Decks Ran Red, Porgy, and Bess.

 

Her last role was Norma Sherman in The Murder Men and The Cain’s Hundred. Dorothy was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for Carmen Jones.

 

For her role in Porgy and Bess, she received a Golden Globe nomination.

 

 

3. Octavia Spencer

 

Octavia Spencer

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 25th May 1970
Place of Birth Montgomery, Alabama, USA
Height 1.57 m
Debut Year 1996
Debut Movie A Time to Kill

 

Octavia Spencer was born into a large Alabama family of seven children, and she was the sixth child.

 

She studied at Auburn University at Montgomery, graduating with a major in English and a minor in journalism and theater.

 

Octavia made her debut in the film A Time To Kill in 1996. She followed it up with parts in Miss Congeniality 2, Never Been Kissed, Big Momma’s House, Spider-Man, Coach Carter, and more.

 

She also acted in television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Raising the Bar, ER, Grounded for Life, The Big Bang Theory, Wizards of Waverly Place, and more.

 

She also played recurring roles in Mom, Halfway House, and Ugly Betty. For her brief role in Seven Pound, Octavia gained huge critical acclaim.

 

In 2010, she followed it up with her role in the period drama The Help.

 

She also acted in films like Fruitvale Station, Get On Up, Red Band Society, Blak or White, Divergent series of films. and more.

 

In 2016, she worked on her next biggest film, The Hidden Figures, and the next year, she was in Guillermo Del Toro’s, The Shape Of Water.

 

Octavia Spencer is the only black actress to have back-to-back Oscar nominations in two years.

 

She was nominated for three Academy Awards, including a win. She also won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three National Board of Review Awards, two Satellite Awards, and two Critics' Choice Movie Awards.

 

 

2. Halle Berry

 

Halle Berry

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 14th August 1966
Place of Birth Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Height 1.65 m
Debut Year 1989
Debut Movie Living Dolls (TV Series)

 

Halle Berry started her career as a model and a beauty queen. She was crowned Miss Ohio and became the first runner-up at the Miss USA pageant.

 

She also participated in the Miss World pageant to finish in the sixth spot. She followed it up with modeling.

 

In 1989, she played the part of a model in the TV show, Living Dolls, but it was short-lived, and she did not get any part for quite some time.

 

She changed her location to Los Angeles in 1991 and acted in the Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever.

 

With this, she made a turnaround in her luck and was cast in films like Boomerang, Losing Isaiah, Executive Decision, Bulworth, and more.

 

Her acting talent was appreciated with each film, and she got the part of Storm in the X-Men franchise.

 

In 2001, Halle Berry acted in Monster’s Ball, where her performance was critically praised, and she was nominated for several awards including an Oscar.

 

Later, she acted in action thriller films like Die Another Day, X2, Perfect Stranger, X-Men: The Days OF Future Past, and more.

 

She was also cast in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, John Wick 3, and more. Halle Berry was nominated for several prestigious awards like British Academy Film Awards, Black Reel Awards, NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, Golden Globes, and more.

 

She also won many awards like an Academy Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy Award, SAG Award, American Film Institute Award, BET Awards, and more.

 

 

1. Lupita Nyong'o

 

Lupita Nyong'o

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth 1st March 1983
Place of Birth Mexico City, Mexico
Height 1.65 m
Debut Year 2008
Debut Movie East River

 

Lupita Nyong’o is a Mexican-Kenyan actress who comes from a family of high achievers. Her father is a senator in Kenya, and her mother manages a cancer foundation.

 

Her brothers and sisters are successful leaders in their field of work. Lupita was inspired to take up acting and film after being inspired by the movie Color Purple and especially by Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

 

She worked as a production assistant in films like The Constant Gardener, The Namesake, more.

 

She moved to acting with a role in East River in 2008. Next, she acted in the MTV drama Shuga, which got her noticed.

 

Steve McQueen cast her in 12 Years a Slave as Patsey, a brutalized slave girl.

 

This role earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress along with a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and SAG Awards.

 

After that, she played major roles in many more films like Non-Stop, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jungle Book, and more.

 

She gained international fandom with her role as Nakia in The Black Panther. She also acted in the horror film Us in 2019.

 

Lupita has won accolades like an Academy Award, a Daytime Emmy Award, Independent Spirit Award, SAG Awards, BET Award, Black Reel Awards, Critic’s Choice Movie Awards, and more.

 

She was also nominated for a Tony Award, Primetime Emmy Award, People’s Choice Award, MTV Movie & TV Awards, and more.

 

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