biographies of thirty top black American and British film stars
By Rob Cockerham |
Sometimes it seems like there are only three black actors who work in film. To shatter that illusion, please read and memorize the biographies of these African American and black British film stars
Brooklyn, New York
Eddie Murphy is among three top black film actors. His 38 movies have averaged a gross of over $100 million each. He is a leading man, and the highest grossing comedian in film.
Known For Beverly Hills Cop (1984) Trading Places (1983) Coming to America (1988) Norbit (2007)
Voice Over: Shrek movies
Morgan Freeman is among three top black film actors. He had a deep, memorable voice which makes him a very valuable announcer and voice over actor. He has made a staggering number of films and is second only to Tom Hanks in lifetime box office totals.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Se7en (1995) Driving Miss Daisy(1989) Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Voice Over: The Lego Movie
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is among the top three black film actors. He has acted in more than 62 movies, among the most of any actor. He is the only top black actor to have starred in a trilogy, and he has been in two of them. His early career featured evil characters, but he has played mostly good guys since 1999.
Pulp Fiction (1994) Django Unchained(2012) The Incredibles (2004) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Nominated for Oscar: Pulp Fiction
Voice Over: The Incredibles
Will Smith has done it all with charisma. Everyone loves him. He got his start as a rapper with DJ Jazzy Jeff in 1985. He had some hit songs featuring his goofy raps, which inspired his unforgettable television sitcom: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. After three years on the show, he was cast in Independence Day and began a long career in film. He is a leading man. Hancock is one of my favorite movies.
Men in Black(1997) I, Robot (2004) I Am Legend (2007) The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) Hancock
Twice Oscar Nominated
Mt. Vernon, New York
Denzel Washington is an intense actor who is a leading man in successful dramas. He protrays brilliant, strong characters. Denzel Washington doesn't make kids movies. He is the actor to use if you anticipate your film winning an Oscar.
American Gangster (2007) Training Day (2001) Man on Fire (2004) Inside Man (2006) Flight (2012)
Won two Oscars (Glory 1999 & Training Day 2001)
Watts, Los Angeles, California
Tyrese Gibson is a young actor with fountains of charisma and box-office success. He has been in three Transformers movies and three Fast & Furious Movies. He often plays a character who clowns around. Has some leading man experience.
Transformers (2007) 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Augusta, Georgia and Brooklyn, NYC.
Larry Fishburne was in Apocalypse Now when he was 14. Not exclusively cast as a bad guy, he's played a lot of villians. He was in the Marvel comics universe, as the voice of the Silver Surfer, but he's in the movies for D.C. comics universe now, playing Perry White, the Daily Planet publisher. He's got a Tony and an Emmy and he was nominated for an Oscar in 1994 (What's Love Got to Do with it?)
The Matrix (1999) Mystic River (2003) Apocalypse Now (1979) Event Horizon (1997) King of New York
voice over: Osmosis Jones
One of the most athletic men on this list. He was nominated for the Oscar in two categories for two movies in the same year. He won for Ray (2004), lost for Collateral (2004). He was an athelete in high school, a comedian in college and a top dramatic actor now. He is a leading man. He has been a villian.
Django Unchained (2012) Collateral (2004) Ray (2004) Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
voice over: Rio
The Bahamas & Miami
Sidney Poitier was Hollywood's original black actor. He was the first black actor to have his handprints in the cement in front of Grummond's Chinese Theatre. He was the first African American to win an oscar for best actor (Lilies of the Field 1963). He directed "Stir Crazy" with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. He is a leading man.
In the Heat of the Night (1967) The Jackal (1997) Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) Lilies of the Field (1963)
Won Oscar for Lilies of the Field (1963), nominated for The Defiant Ones (1958)
Idris Elba seems to have come out of nowhere to become the most trusted black actor in Hollywood. That's probably because I wasn't watching the Wire, where everyone else fell in love with him. He has a very interesting voice, putting him into contention for dramatic roles as a leader.
Prometheus (2012) Pacific Rim (2013) Thor (2011) 28 Weeks Later (2007) Mandela (2014)
voice over: jungle book (2015)
From New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tyler Perry does everything himself. He has his own studio, his own production company, he writes his own scripts and directs his own movies. He makes dramas, comedies and romanic comedies for black audiences. He is succeeding.
Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor(2013) For Better or Worse (2011) I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009) Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Michael Clarke Duncan
Michael Clarke Duncan is a huge, good natured guy with a super deep voice. He worked as a bodyguard for singers and actors before breaking into the acting business. He was engaged to reality show villian Omarosa Manigault, who performed CPR when he had a heart attack. He died young.
The Green Mile (1999) Sin City (2005)Planet of the Apes (2001) Daredevil (2003)
Nominated for an Oscar (The Green Mile)
voice over: Kung Fu Panda, Green Lantern, Air Buddies, Brother Bear
Los Angeles, California
Forest Whittaker is an example of that ultra-rare actor who can emerge from a career as a character actor to a leading man. He can do anything, and has a special section on his IMDB bio which recounts his exploits as a "challenging assignment" taker. I doubt he has ever been in a comedy.
Platoon (1986) The Last King of Scotland (2006) Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) Phone Booth (2002)
Won an oscar for The Last King of Scotland (2006).
voice over: Where the Wild Things Are
Kansas City, MO
Don Cheadle has done it all. He was in Crash and Traffic. He was a leading man in Hotel Rwanda, he was part of the ensemble crime films Ocean's 11, 12 and 13, and he back-filled the role of Iron Man's pal James Rhodes after Terrence Howard left the trilogy. He is thin, but doesn't do comedy.
Crash (2004) Iron Man 3 (2013) Iron Man 2 (2010) Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Nominated for an Oscar (Hotel Rwanda)
Bronx, New York City
Had an intense career as an action hero, becoming one of the first truly successful comic book action heroes: Blade. He got busted for not filing his tax returns and for owing the US government about $20 million dollars. He went to prison for years, but got out.
Was in a trilogy.
Blade (1998) Passenger 57 (1992) New Jack City (1990) Demolition Man (1993)
Oh, wait, this is Andre 3000 from Outkast.
The Great Gatsby (2013) 8 Mile (2002) Idlewild (2006) 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Is often cast as an action hero depite his thin frame.
Captain America, The Winter Soldier (2014) The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker (2008) Million Dollar Baby Million Dollar Baby (2004) The Adjustment Bureau The Adjustment Bureau (2011) Real Steel Real Steel (2011)
James Earl Jones
The Lion King (1994) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) Dr. Strangelove (1964) Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Won an Oscar for a lifetime achievement in film. He also has a Tony, a Grammy and an Emmy.
His voice has been in a trilogy.
Voice Over: Star Wars
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Bronx, New York
His biggest role, the one he won an Oscar for, was for an ultra-confident, outspoken football star, but many of his other roles are of soft-spoken, polite characters. Picture Cuba Gooding Jr. with a gun in his hand. You can't, can you?
Jerry Maguire (1996) As Good as It Gets (1997) Men of Honor (2000) What Dreams May Come (1998)
Won Oscar for best in a supporting role: Jerry Maguire (1996)
Voice over: Home on the Range (2004)
A british actor, a leading man, not cast as a tough guy. He's played a slave in two dramas, Amistad and 12 years a slave, but he has also been in comedies and action movies.
12 Years a Slave (2013) Children of Men (2006) American Gangster (2007) 2012 (2009)
Nominated for 1 Oscar (12 years a slave)
I like Terrence Howard. I think he might be a little too honest for Hollywood, or the identity of his characters, smooth and crafty, must influence the people he works with.
Iron Man (2008) Prisoners (2013) Hustle & Flow (2005) The Brave One (2007)
Nominated for an Oscar (Hustle and Flow)
Voice Over: The Princess and the Frog (2009)
San Mateo, California
He's probably best known as the Allstate voice guy, or maybe he is best known as the president from 24. He actually might be best known as the boss from The Unit television show. I know him as the driver/cook who is a last-minute addition to the best bank crew in movie history, Heat.
Known For Heat (1995) Major League (1989)
Voice Over: Wreck-It Ralph, Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Rochester, New York
Taye Diggs was mostly a television and theatre actor until he was in Chicago (the musical). I guess he is still more famous as a television actor, because he was on Private Practice for five years. He is a musical guy, very good looking.
Chicago (2002) Private Practice (2007) The Way of the Gun (2000) How Stella Got Her Groove Back (2001)
Benin (West Africa)
Looks tough and rural. Attractive, sandblasted. Plays physically strong characters. Was in Amistad, Blood Diamond and Gladiator, so he's played pretty much every kind of slave.
Gladiator (2000) Blood Diamond (2006) The Island (2005) Constantine (2005)
Nominated for two Oscars: Blood Diamond (2006) and In America (2002)
Voice Over: How to Train your Dragon 2
Brooklyn, New York
Plays timid, streetwise characters and has a unique, pointed voice.
The Italian Job (2003) Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (2002) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) 16 Blocks (2006)
Los Angeles, CA
Starting as a rapper in Compton, California, he began his flim career playing an urban gangster, but found a new talent writing films for black audiences, such as the comedy Friday and its sequels. He had a couple of starring roles in action movies, and lately has been a staple in summer comedies. Plays a scowling tough guy.
Friday (1995) Boyz n the Hood (1991) 21 Jump Street (2012) Next Friday (2000)
Voice Over: Book of Life (2014)
Started as a rapper, plays agile good guys in action movies. Had a starring role in the television Western Hell on Wheels. Won an Emmy.
Smokin' Aces (2006) Wanted (2008) Now You See Me (2013) Terminator Salvation (2009)
Bell Gardens, California.
Sometimes plays a young hustler with a mustache.
Known for Known For
Menace II Society (1993) The Postman (1997) Ray(2004) A Man Apart (2003)
Plays a strong, quiet character. Leading man. I am a fan of Attack the Block, and I know John was selected for Star Wars 7, so I'm just going to include him here and assume that he will be a star.
Attack the Block (2011) Imperial Dreams (2014) My Murder (2012) Junkhearts (2011)
The Comedians below are also famous black movie actors.
More Black Actors:
Louis Gossett Jr.
Billy Dee Williams
Michael B. Jordan
Isaach De Bankolé
L.L. Cool J.
Charles S. Dutton
Clarence Williams III
Don't forget about Vin Diesel.