Black Actors Who Made Entertainment History

Black Actors Who Made Entertainment History

Cicely Tyson


An entertainment icon and a living legend with a career spanning more than six decades. The first Black person to star in a prime-time drama in the ’60s

Hattie McDaniel


Because of the color of her skin, McDaniel was forced to sit in the backroom inside the Academy Awards’ segregated venue when she became the first Black person to win an Oscar for the film “Gone With the Wind.”

Angela Bassett


Bassett made history in 2021 when she became the highest-paid Black actress in TV history, earning $450,000 per episode on the hit drama “9-1-1.”

Spike Lee


He made his directorial debut with “She’s Gotta Have It” in 1986, but in 1989, his film “Do the Right Thing” placed Lee on the map as a notable filmmaker and actor internationally.

Chadwick Boseman


Boseman became a household name when he starred as the Black Panther as a part of the Marvel Universe, and in the 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther,” which became the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time at $1.3 billion.

Denzel Washington


The second Black man to win a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in “Training Day” in 2001, Denzel Washington has made his mark in entertainment history and broke barriers with his powerful on-screen portrayals.

Whoopi Goldberg


 Goldberg won a Best Actress Golden Globe in 1985 for “The Color Purple,” a Grammy Award for best comedy album in 1986, a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Ghost” in 1990, and a Tony Award for her work as producer of the 2002 production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” on Broadway.

Eddie Murphy


Early in his career, Eddie Murphy won national attention as a member of television’s “Saturday Night Live” cast. In addition to his majorly successful career in stand-up comedy, he made cult classic films such as “Coming to America” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” which was the highest-grossing film released in 1984.

Halle Berry


In 2002, Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for best actress for her work in “Monster’s Ball.” To this day, Berry remains the first and only Black actress to take home an Oscar in the leading category.

Chiwetel Ejiofor


has received numerous awards for his works in acting, and many people know him as the lead character, Solomon Northup, in “12 Years a Slave.” His breakthrough came when Ejiofor, who was 19 at the time, caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who added him to the cast of “Amistad.”

Will Smith


Will Smith, who rose to stardom under his rapper persona The Fresh Prince in 1985, starred in his own television show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-air,” and has appeared in many blockbuster films across his 30-plus-year career.

Lupita Nyong’o


For her performance in this role, she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2014, making the entertainer—who is of Kenyan and Mexican nationality—the first Mexican actress to win the award.