Best Black Actresses Today

by Xtremegt2 | created - 12 Mar 2015 | updated - 12 Mar 2015 | Public

The best African-American or women of color in the film and television industry in 2015.

1. Lupita Nyong'o

Actress | 12 Years a Slave

Lupita Amondi Nyong'o was born March 1, 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico, to Kenyan parents, Dorothy Ogada Buyu and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o. Her father, a senator, was then a visiting lecturer in political science. She was raised in Kenya. At age 16, her parents sent her back to Mexico for seven months to...

2. Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Actress | Belle

Gugu Mbatha-Raw was born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, England. Her father, Patrick Mbatha, is a Black South African doctor, and her mother, Anne Raw, is a Caucasian English nurse. Her parents separated when she was a year old, and she was brought up by her mother ...

3. Viola Davis

Actress | Fences

Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), ...

4. Taraji P. Henson

Actress | The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Taraji P. Henson was born on September 11, 1970 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA as Taraji Penda Henson. She is an actress and producer, known for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Hidden Figures (2016) and Hustle & Flow (2005).

5. Angela Bassett

Actress | Strange Days

Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters and on stages and television screens throughout the world. Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958 in New York City, to Betty Jane (Gilbert), a social worker, and Daniel Benjamin Bassett, a ...

6. Rosario Dawson

Actress | Rent

This stunning and resourceful actress has been primarily a film player thus far. Only recently has she been opening herself up more to doing television (the series Gemini Division (2008), which she executive-produced), and animated voice-overs. Dawson's powerhouse talent stands out the most in edgy...

7. Naomie Harris

Actress | 28 Days Later...

British actress Naomie Harris was born in London, England, the only child of television scriptwriter Lisselle Kayla. Her father is from Trinidad and her mother is from Jamaica. They separated before she was born, and Harris was raised by her mother and has no relationship with her father. She ...

8. Tessa Thompson

Actress | Creed

The actress Tessa Lynn Thompson was born on October 3, 1983 in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson and the granddaughter of actor-musician Bobby Ramos. She was raised in Los Angeles before moving to Brooklyn, New York. Her father is of ...

9. Kerry Washington

Actress | Django Unchained

Kerry Washington was born on January 31, 1977 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA as Kerry Marisa Washington. She is an actress and producer, known for Django Unchained (2012), Scandal (2012) and Save the Last Dance (2001). She has been married to Nnamdi Asomugha since June 24, 2013. They ...

10. Nicole Beharie

Actress | Shame

Nicole Beharie is an American actress.

Her critically acclaimed film debut was in the film American Violet (2008) alongside Alfre Woodard, Tim Blake Nelson and Will Patton. Beharie also played Ernie Davis' girlfriend in the movie The Express (2008). Her upcoming projects include My Last Day Without ...

11. Alfre Woodard

Actress | Star Trek: First Contact

Alfre Woodard was born on November 8, 1952 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children of Constance, a homemaker, and Marion H. Woodard, an interior designer. She was named by her godmother, who claimed she saw a vision of Alfre's name written out in gold letters. A former high school ...

12. Gabrielle Union

Actress | Bring It On

Gabrielle Union was born on October 29, 1972, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Theresa (Glass), who managed a phone company, and Sylvester E. Union, a military sergeant and business executive. When she was eight, her family moved to Pleasanton, California, where she grew up and attended high school. There, ...

13. Octavia Spencer

Actress | Hidden Figures

Spencer is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, which she claims is the proverbial buckle of the Bible belt. She's the sixth of seven siblings and holds a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University. A "closet" lover of acting, this practical Alabamian knew that she'd someday work in the film industry, ...

14. Sanaa Lathan

Actress | AVP: Alien vs. Predator

Sanaa Lathan, pronounced Sa-NAA, "like Sinatra without the tra", was born on September 19, 1971, in New York, as her actress mother Eleanor McCoy performed on Broadway with the likes of Eartha Kitt, and her director father Stan Lathan worked behind the scenes in television for PBS. She was exposed ...

15. Ruth Negga

Actress | Loving

Ruth Negga was born on January 7, 1982 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is an actress and producer, known for Loving (2016), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) and World War Z (2013).

16. Carmen Ejogo

Actress | Selma

Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo was born in Kensington, London, England, to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. Her television career began in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, where she presented the children's series Saturday Disney (1990). Subsequently, she has had an acting career in the ...

17. Keke Palmer

Actress | Hustlers

Keke Palmer was born Lauren Keyana Palmer in Harvey, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago, to Sharon and Larry Palmer, both former actors. Palmer showed vocal promise as a five-year-old, when she belted out "Jesus Loves Me" in her church choir. A year later the singer-actress had a solo in her ...

18. Zoe Saldana

Actress | Guardians of the Galaxy

Zoe Saldana was born on June 19, 1978 in Passaic, New Jersey, to Asalia Nazario and Aridio Saldaña. Her father was Dominican and her mother is Puerto Rican. She was raised in Queens, New York. When she was 10 years old, she and her family moved to the Dominican Republic, where they would live for ...

19. Regina King

Actress | Ray

Regina King was born in Los Angeles, California, to Gloria, a special education teacher, and Thomas King, an electrician. She began her career in the television show 227 (1985), followed by a role in Boyz n the Hood (1991). She began to be recognized by a mainstream audience after her role as Cuba ...

20. Sophie Okonedo

Actress | Hotel Rwanda

Sophie Okonedo is a British actress of Jewish and Nigerian descent. She was once nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Okonedo was born within London in 1968. Her parents were Henry Okonedo (1939-2009) and Joan Allman. Her father Henry was British Nigerian, and was employed as...

21. Rashida Jones

Actress | Parks and Recreation

Rashida Jones was born in Los Angeles, California, the younger daughter of media mogul, producer, and musician Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton. She has an older sister, Kidada Jones, and five half-siblings by her father's other relationships. Her father is African-American and her mother is ...

22. Quvenzhané Wallis

Actress | Beasts of the Southern Wild

Wallis was born in Houma, Louisiana, to Qulyndreia (Jackson) Wallis, a teacher, and Venjie Wallis, Sr., a truck driver. She has one sister, Qunyquekya, and two brothers, Vejon and Venjie, Jr. "Quven", the first part of her name, combines the first syllables of her parents' first names. Wallis, at ...

23. Thandie Newton

Actress | Crash

Thandie Newton was born in London. She is the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother, Nyasha, a health-care worker from the Shona tribe, and Nick Newton, a British father who worked as a lab technician. She lived in Zambia until political unrest caused her family to move back to the UK. She then lived in ...

24. Anika Noni Rose

Actress | The Princess and the Frog

Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose recently finished filming the lead role of the pilot episode Beast Mode (TBS / Macro), which is based on life of legendary boxing trainer Ann Wolfe. Anika is also serving as Co-Executive Producer.

In 2018, Anika starred in the title role of 'Carmen Jones' in John ...

25. Jurnee Smollett-Bell

Actress | Underground

Jurnee Smollett-Bell was born on October 1, 1986 in New York City, New York, USA as Jurnee Diana Smollett. She is an actress, known for her role as "Jess Merriweather" on the Emmy Award-winning TV series, Friday Night Lights (2006). She is also known for her roles in The Great Debaters (2007), ...

26. Antonia Thomas

Actress | The Good Doctor

Antonia Thomas is an English actress. She is best known for her work in the TV series Misfits, Lovesick and the The Good Doctor.

She studied for a Bachelor of Arts in acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 2009, and then joined the National Youth Theatre.

Her acting debut was in ...

27. Gina Torres

Actress | Serenity

Gina was born in New York City and is youngest of three children in a close-knit Cuban American family. Attended New York City's High School of Music and Art She is a gifted mezzo soprano and was trained in opera and jazz and also sang in a gospel choir.

28. Maisie Richardson-Sellers

Actress | Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Maisie Richardson-Sellers (born 2 March 1992) is an English actress. She is known for her recurring role as Rebekah Mikaelson / Eva Sinclair on The CW series The Originals, as well as her starring roles as King Saul of Israel's daughter Michal in the ABC Biblical series Of Kings and Prophets and as...

29. Amandla Stenberg

Actress | The Hate U Give

Named for the Zulu and Xhosa word for "power," Amandla was born in Los Angeles, California, to Karen Brailsford, a writer, and Tom Stenberg, a businessman. Her mother is African-American and her father is Danish (and of part Inuit-Greenlandic ancestry).

In the summer and fall of 2010, she shot her ...

30. Kiersey Clemons

Actress | Dope

An undeniable talent on the rise, actress and musician Kiersey Clemons has quickly become known for the diverse and captivating characters she has brought to life on screen.

It was recently announced that Clemons will be starring as Iris West in the upcoming Warner Bros film THE FLASH, where she ...

31. Oprah Winfrey

Producer | The Oprah Winfrey Show

Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman.

While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African-American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, ...

32. Karidja Touré

Actress | Bande de filles

Karidja Touré is an actress, known for Girlhood (2014), Versus (2019) and Au bout des doigts (2018).

33. Antonique Smith

Actress | Notorious

Antonique is an acclaimed actor and a 2015 Grammy nominated singer and writer. She is most famous for her starring role of Faith Evans in "Notorious" where she received rave reviews and was praised by critics, including Jeffery Lyons who called her "one to watch". .

Antonique is one of the new stars...

34. Nia Long

Actress | Big Momma's House

Stunning pop culture icon, Hollywood leading lady and three-time NAACP award winner Nia Long returns to the big screen this fall in the highly anticipated Universal Pictures sequel The Best Man Holiday (in theaters November 15th) where she reunites with original castmates Taye Diggs ("Private ...

35. Yaya DaCosta

Actress | The Butler

Yaya DaCosta was born and raised in New York City along with her sister and two brothers. She got her first acting gig at the age of eleven when her junior high school drama teacher, Ann Willis Ratray, encouraged her to audition for educational films. She continued to perform in school shows ...

36. Nathalie Emmanuel

Actress | Furious Seven

Nathalie Emmanuel is an English actress, known for her role as Missandei on the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones (2011) and Ramsey in Furious 7 (2015).

Nathalie was born in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, to a father of Saint Lucian and English descent and a mother of Dominican origin. Nathalie ...

37. Ivie Okujaye

Actress | 5th Floor

Ivie Okujaye is an actress and writer, known for 5th Floor (2017), Slow Country (2017) and Burning Bridges (2014).

38. Jessica Parker Kennedy

Actress | The Flash

Jessica Parker Kennedy is a Canadian actress of film and television. Born in Calgary, Alberta her first string of screen work began with the television film, Santa Baby (2006), as Lucy the Elf, a role she reprises in the television film sequel, Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe (2009). With a ...

39. Jessica Williams

Actress | The Incredible Jessica James

Jessica Williams was born on July 31, 1989 in California, USA. She is an actress and producer, known for The Incredible Jessica James (2017), Booksmart (2019) and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015).

40. Queen Latifah

Actress | Hairspray

Often considered hip-hop's first lady (though some would attribute that to Roxanne Shanté), the woman behind the moniker Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens on March 18, 1970, in East Orange, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Rita (Bray), a teacher, and Lancelot Owens, Sr. She came from a ...

41. Rochelle Aytes

Actress | Trick 'r Treat

Rochelle Aytes was born in New York City. She attended LaGuardia High School and graduated with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Dance from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory for Dance in 1998. She is best-known for her role in White Chicks (2004) as Denise Porter; her role in Left 4 Dead 2 (...

42. Shanola Hampton

Actress | Shameless

Shanola Hampton was born May 27 in Long Island, NY to a Pastor and an IRS agent. She was raised in Summerville, South Carolina with her three sisters. In college she earned a degree in Theater, with emphasis in Performance from Winthrop University along with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from ...

43. Pam Grier

Actress | Jackie Brown

Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched ...

44. Danai Gurira

Actress | Black Panther

Danai Gurira was born in Grinnell, Iowa, to Josephine and Roger Gurira, who were from Zimbabwe. Her father was then teaching Chemistry at Grinnell College. When she was five, the family moved back to Zimbabwe, residing in the capital Harare. Gurira later returned to the United States, and studied ...

45. Eva LaRue

Actress | All My Children

Eva LaRue grew up in California. At the age of 6 she began her show-business career. She starred in television commercials and sang many "jingles" for them. She still often sings at sports events and any other opportunities that arise. Eva likes to ride horses and has shown horses for over a decade...

46. Khandi Alexander

Actress | CSI: Miami

Khandi Alexander was born on September 4, 1957 in New York City, New York, USA. She is an actress, known for CSI: Miami (2002), Patriots Day (2016) and Treme (2010).

47. Justina Machado

Actress | Torque

Justina Machado was born on September 6, 1972 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is an actress, known for Torque (2004), Six Feet Under (2001) and One Day at a Time (2017).

48. Hannah Simone

Actress | New Girl

Hannah Simone stars on FOX's hit series, New Girl (2011), opposite Zooey Deschanel. Simone hosted HGTV Canada's popular design show, "Space for Living", before moving onto Canada's largest music channel, "MuchMusic". After MuchMusic, Simone moved to Los Angeles, where she hosted two seasons of WCG ...

49. Lorraine Toussaint

Actress | Hudson Hawk

SAG Award and Critics Choice Award winner for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Lorraine Toussaint shocked audiences on the smash hit Netflix original series "Orange is the New Black" as the viciously seductive inmate Vee. Toussaint's thrilling performance has won her glowing reviews from ...

50. Marsha Thomason

Actress | White Collar

Marsha Thomason was born and raised in Manchester, England. Her love for acting began after watching the musical "Bugsy Malone". Soon after, aged 12, she joined Oldham Theatre Workshop, where she performed many diverse stage plays, including "Our Day Out" by Willy Russell and "Peace" by Aristophanes...

51. Shareeka Epps

Actress | Half Nelson

Shareeka Epps was born on July 11, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. She is an actress, known for Half Nelson (2006), Mother and Child (2009) and My Soul to Take (2010).

52. Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Actress | Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid

Classy, graceful, & intelligent, Salli Elise Richardson was born November 23, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois. Salli's acting career was first nurtured in the theater and, ever since, she has been on a non-stop journey to success. Her first feature performance was in 1991 as "Denise" in Up Against the ...

53. Rosie Perez

Actress | White Men Can't Jump

Rosie Perez was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York City to Lydia Perez and Ismael Serrano, a merchant marine. She is of Puerto Rican descent. Rosie attended Grover Cleveland High School located in Ridgewood, Queens, New York, and later enrolled at Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, ...

54. Denise Vasi

Actress | What's Your Number?

A Brooklyn native, Vasi signed to Ford Models at the age of 12. She went on to grace the pages of international campaigns for ELLE, Marie Claire, GQ Italy and more. She appeared in numerous on-camera and print campaigns for leading cosmetic, hair care and fashion brands including Olay, Bobbi Brown,...

55. Daphne Duplaix

Actress | One Life to Live

Daphne Duplaix was born on August 18, 1976 in New York City, New York, USA as Daphnee Lynn Duplaix. She is an actress, known for One Life to Live (1968), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000) and Lost & Found (1999). She has been married to Grady Heiberg since June 28, 2014. They have one child...

56. Sherri Saum

Actress | Sunset Beach

Sherri Saum was born on October 1, 1974 in Dayton, Ohio, USA as Sherri M. Saum. She is an actress and producer, known for Sunset Beach (1997), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001) and Finding Home (2003).

57. Tracee Ellis Ross

Actress | Girlfriends

Tracee Ellis Ross was born on October 29, 1972 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Tracee Joy Silberstein. She is an actress and producer, known for Girlfriends (2000), Black-ish (2014) and Reed Between the Lines (2011).

58. Erica Tazel

Actress | Justified

Erica Tazel is an actress, known for Justified (2010), Roots (2016) and Mafia III (2016).

59. Meagan Good

Actress | Think Like a Man

Meagan Monique Good was born on 8 August 1981 in Panorama City, California, USA, to Tyra Wardlow-Doyle, who worked as her manager, and Leondis "Leon" Good, an LAPD officer. She began appearing on commercials at the age of four. Then she started guest-starring on series like The Parent 'Hood (1995), ...

60. Vanessa Williams

Actress | Ugly Betty

Vanessa Lynn Williams was born in Millwood, New York, to Helen L. (Tinch) and Milton Augustine Williams, Jr., both music teachers. Vanessa and her brother grew up in suburban New York in comfortable surroundings. Vanessa sang and danced in school productions and signed her high school yearbook with...

61. Paula Patton

Actress | Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Paula Patton was born in Los Angeles, California, to Joyce (Vanraden) and Charles Patton. Her father is African-American and her mother, who is caucasian, has German, English, and Dutch ancestry. Her family lived across the street from the 20th Century Fox lot when she was growing up and she was a ...

62. Amber Stevens West

Actress | 22 Jump Street

Stevens was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of actor and radio announcer Shadoe Stevens, and former model Beverly Cunningham. She has a younger sister named Chyna Stevens (Chyna Rose Stevens). She is a graduate of Beverly Hills High School. Her father is Caucasian (of Norwegian...

63. Loretta Devine

Actress | Crash

Equally at home on stage and on screen, award-winning actress Loretta Devine has created some of the most memorable roles in theatre, film and television.

Devine first captured national attention in the role of Lorrell, one of the three original "Dreamgirls" in Michael Bennett's classic ...

64. Kat Graham

Actress | How It Ends

Kat Graham is a music artist, actress and producer, known for her starring role on the hit TV show The Vampire Diaries (2009).

Graham was born Katerina Alexandre Hartford Graham in Geneva, Switzerland, and speaks four languages - English, Spanish, French, and Hebrew. Her father, Joseph, is a ...

65. Joy Bryant

Actress | Bobby

Joy Bryant was born in a modest home in The Bronx, New York and as a young woman, was enrolled in an inner-city outreach organization called "A Better Chance," designed to encourage minority talent. Joy was also blessed with brains as well beauty and remained an excellent student throughout her ...

66. Regina Hall

Actress | Girls Trip

Regina Hall was born December 12, 1970 in Washington, D.C., to Ruby, a teacher, and Odie Hall, a contractor. She graduated from Fordham University in 1992, and went on to earn a master's degree in journalism from New York University before shifting to an acting career. In 1997 at age 26, she began ...

67. Garcelle Beauvais

Actress | Spider-Man: Homecoming

Named one of People Magazine's highly-coveted 50 Most Beautiful in 2014, Haitian-born actress Garcelle Beauvais immigrated to the United States at the age of seven with her mother and sisters, and has since charmed audiences with her dramatic and comedic abilities. A seasoned actress, Garcelle ...

68. Nikki Amuka-Bird

Actress | Jupiter Ascending

Amuka-Bird was born in Nigeria, but grew up in the UK and in Antigua. She abandoned her dancing aspirations after suffering a back injury. After attending LAMDA, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Whilst on tour with the RSC in Japan, she met her husband, actor Geoffrey Streatfield. In ...

69. Rachel True

Actress | The Craft

Rachel True has been working for most of the 1990s. She broke into the business with a pair of guest roles on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1984) In 1993, Rachel moved to L.A.; she then appeared in the rap parody CB4 (1993) with Chris Rock. She also landed another pair of guest spots on the HBO ...

70. Jessica Pimentel

Actress | Orange Is the New Black

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jessica Pimentel is an American actress whose parents were immigrants from the Dominican Republic. She is a Latina of mixed heritage including Taino Native American, Italian, Malian, Irish and Iberian. She is a graduate of the High School for the Performing ...

71. Hayley Marie Norman

Actress | Hancock

Hayley Marie Norman is an American film and television actress.

Hayley was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, California, the daughter of a retired baseball player. Her father is African-American and her mother is of Russian, German, and distant Dutch, descent. On her mother's side, Hayley is the ...

72. Lyndie Greenwood

Actress | Sleepy Hollow

Greenwood was born and raised in Toronto. She studied dance in school and is also well-versed in martial arts. She attended several voice and musical theater schools in Canada. She began acting training at multiple schools including the "Professional Actors Lab", "Jason Fraser Studios", "Etobicoke ...

73. Raven-Symoné

Actress | That's So Raven

Raven-Symoné Pearman was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Lydia (Gaulden) and Christopher Pearman. At a young age, she moved to New York. While there Raven signed with the Ford Modeling Agency. They sent her out on a audition for a movie called Ghost Dad (1990), which also starred the legendary Bill ...

74. Logan Browning

Actress | Bratz

Logan Browning was born on June 9, 1989 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA as Logan Laurice Browning. She is an actress, known for Bratz (2007), The Perfection (2018) and Dear White People (2017).

75. Monica Raymund

Actress | Chicago Fire

Monica Raymund stars as Gabriela Dawson in NBC's drama "Chicago Fire."

A graduate of The Juilliard School, she is the recipient of the John Houseman Award for her commitment and dedication. Immediately following her graduation, she went on to star opposite Tim Roth for three seasons in "Lie to Me." ...

76. Jennifer Beals

Actress | Flashdance

Jennifer Beals was born in December 1963 in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in the city. With a life-long desire for acting, Beals first appeared in small high school plays and even got an uncredited bit part in My Bodyguard (1980) in 1980. After graduation, she enrolled in college at Yale University...

77. Zoë Soul

Actress | Prisoners

Zoë Soul is an actress, known for Prisoners (2013), The Purge: Anarchy (2014) and Reed Between the Lines (2011).



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