Film & Television

A glossary of important Black (African) American individuals from the past and present. A knowledgeable resource for all, brought to you with an artistic touch.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Obba Babatunde

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé is an American stage and movie actor, voice actor, producer, director and singer. A native of Queens, New York, Babatundé has appeared in more than seventeen stage productions, thirty theatrical films, sixty made-for-television movies, and two prime-time series.

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Jim Brown

Jim Brown

James Nathaniel Brown is an American former professional football player and actor. He was a running back for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965.

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LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton Jr. is an American actor, presenter, director and author. He is best known for his role in Star Trek: The Next Generation, hosting the long-running PBS children's series Reading Rainbow and in the 1977 award-winning ABC television miniseries Roots.

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Bernie Casey

Bernie Casey

Bernard Casey was an American actor, poet, and professional football player. He was an actor and director, known for Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and Never Say Never Again (1983).

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Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilton Chamberlain was an American basketball player who played as a center and is considered one of the greatest players in history. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

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Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby, Jr. is an American stand-up comedian, actor, musician, author, and convicted sex offender. He held an active career for over six decades before being convicted and imprisoned for sex offenses in 2018.

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Dorothy Jean Dandridge

Dorothy Jean Dandridge

Dorothy Jean Dandridge was an American film and theatre actress, singer, and dancer. She is perhaps one of the most famous black actresses to have a successful Hollywood career and the first to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones.

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Sammy Davis, Jr. Music

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Samuel Davis Jr. was an American singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian, comedian and activist known for his impressions of actors, musicians and other celebrities. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame for being one of the Greatest Entertainers in the World.

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Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee was an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and civil rights activist. She is perhaps best known for originating the role of “Ruth Younger” in the stage and film versions of A Raisin in the Sun (1961).

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Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan was an American actor best known for his breakout role as John Coffey in The Green Mile (1999), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and various similar honors.

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Antonio Fargas

Antonio Fargas

Antonio Fargas is an American actor known for his roles in 1970s blaxploitation movies, as well as his portrayal of Huggy Bear in the 1970s TV series Starsky & Hutch.

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Redd Foxx

Redd Foxx

John Sanford, better known by his stage name Redd Foxx, was an American stand-up comedian and actor. Foxx gained success with his raunchy nightclub acts during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, and film narrator. Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor with Million Dollar Baby, and he has received Oscar nominations for Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, and Invictus.

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Ron Glass

Ron Glass

Ronald Glass was an American actor. He was best known for his roles as literary Det. Ron Harris in the television sitcom Barney Miller, and as the spiritual Shepherd Derrial Book in the science-fiction series Firefly and its sequel film Serenity.

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Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg is an American actor, comedian, author, and television personality. She has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award (EGOT).

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Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy III is an American record executive, record producer, songwriter, film producer and television producer. He is best known as the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries, which was the highest-earning African-American business for decades.

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Pam Grier

Pam Grier

Pamela Grier is an American actress. Grier became known in the early 1970s for starring in a string of 1970s women in prison and blaxploitation films such as The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba, Baby.

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Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall is an American comedian, talk show host, actor, writer and producer. He is best known for hosting The Arsenio Hall Show, a late-night talk show that ran from 1989 until 1994, and again from 2013 to 2014.

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Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide.

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Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly

James Milton Kelly was an American athlete, actor, and martial artist. Kelly rose to fame in the early 1970s appearing in several blaxploitation films. Kelly is perhaps best known for his role as Williams in the 1973 martial arts action film Enter the Dragon.

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Kid ’n Play

Kid ’n Play

Kid ’n Play is a hip-hop duo from New York City that was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Besides their successful musical careers, they are also notable for branching out into acting.

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Yaphet Kotto

Yaphet Kotto

Yaphet Kotto is an American actor known for numerous film roles, as well as starring in NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street as Lieutenant Al Giardello. Films include Alien, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger science-fiction/action film The Running Man.

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Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah

Dana Elaine Owens, known professionally as Queen Latifah, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, and producer. She has long been considered one of hip-hop's pioneer feminists.

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Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence is an American stand-up comedian, actor, producer, talk show host, and writer. Lawrence came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywood career as a leading actor, most notably in the Fox sitcom Martin and films like House Party, Boomerang, and Bad Boys.

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Spike Lee

Spike Lee

“Spike” Lee is a film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983. He made his directorial debut with She's Gotta Have It, and has since directed such films as Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X.

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Delroy Lindo

Delroy Lindo

Delroy Lindo is a British-born American actor and theatre director. Lindo has been nominated for Tony and Screen Actors Guild awards and has won a Satellite Award. He is perhaps best known for his roles in three Spike Lee films, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, and Clockers.

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Bernie Mac

Bernie Mac

Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, better known by his stage name Bernie Mac, was an American comedian, actor, and voice actor. Born and raised on Chicago's South Side, Mac gained popularity as a stand-up comedian.

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Paul Mooney

Paul Mooney

Paul Gladney, better known by the stage name Paul Mooney, is an American comedian, writer, social critic, and television and film actor. He is best known for his appearances on Chappelle's Show and as a writer for comedian Richard Pryor.

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Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy

Edward Murphy is an American actor, comedian, and singer. Murphy was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984. He has worked as a stand-up comedian and was ranked No. 10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.

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Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer, and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Nichols played Nyota Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek television series, as well as the succeeding motion pictures.

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Patrice O’Neal

Patrice O’Neal

Patrice O'Neal was an American stand-up comedian, actor, and radio host. He grew up in Boston and developed an interest in stand-up comedy at a young age, first performing in 1992 when his act mainly focused on conversations with his audience.

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Ron O’Neal

Ron O’Neal

Ron O'Neal was an American actor, director and screenwriter, who rose to fame in his role as Youngblood Priest, a New York cocaine dealer, in blaxploitation films Super Fly and Super Fly T.N.T.. O'Neal was also a director and writer for the sequel, and for the film Up Against the Wall.

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Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was an American photographer, musician, writer and film director, who became prominent in U.S. documentary photojournalism in the 1940s through 1970s ‐ particularly in issues of civil rights, poverty and African-Americans ‐ and in glamour photography.

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Melvin Van Peebles

Melvin Van Peebles

Melvin “Block” Van Peebles is an American actor, filmmaker, playwright, novelist and composer. He is most famous for creating (and starring in) the acclaimed film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which heralded a new era of black-focused films.

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Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sir Sidney Poitier is a Bahamian-American actor and film director. He received two nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor, winning one, by which he became the first black actor to win the Award.

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Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor was an American stand-up comedian and actor. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time.

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Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph is an American actress, singer, author, and activist. She made her screen debut in the 1977 comedy film A Piece of the Action, before landing her breakthrough role as Deena Jones in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she received Tony Award nomination.

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Chris Rock

Chris Rock

Christopher Rock is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director. After working as a stand-up comedian and appearing in supporting film roles, Rock came to wider prominence as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s.

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Diana Ross

Diana Ross

Diana Ross is an American singer, actress, and record producer. Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the Supremes, becoming Motown's most successful act, and are the best charting girl group in U.S. history, as well as one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time.

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Richard Roundtree

Richard Roundtree

Richard Roundtree is an American actor and former model. Roundtree is noted as being “the first black action hero” for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film Shaft, and its four sequels, released between 1972 and 2019.

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Nipsey Russell

Nipsey Russell

Julius “Nipsey” Russell was an American comedian, poet, and dancer best known for his appearances as a panelist on game shows from the 1960s through the 1990s, including Match Game, Password, Hollywood Squares, To Tell the Truth, and Pyramid.

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John Singleton

John Singleton

John Singleton was a film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He was best known for directing Boyz n the Hood, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

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Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur, known professionally as 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. Much of Shakur's work has been noted for addressing contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities, and he is considered a symbol of resistance and activism against inequality.

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Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes is an American actor, director, film producer, martial artist, and author. His prominent film roles include New Jack City, White Men Can't Jump, Passenger 57, Demolition Man, and the Marvel Comics character Blade in the Blade film trilogy.

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Chris Tucker

Chris Tucker

Christopher Tucker is an American actor and stand-up comedian. He is known for playing the role of Smokey in F. Gary Gray's Friday and as Detective James Carter in Brett Ratner's Rush Hour film series. He became a frequent stand up performer on Def Comedy Jam in the 1990s.

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Tina Turner

Tina Turner

Tina Turner is a retired singer, songwriter, and actress who is internationally recognized. One of the best-selling recording artists of all time, she has been referred to as The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and has sold more than 200 million records worldwide.

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Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson is a actress and former fashion model. In a career spanning more than six decades, she became known for her portrayal of strong African-American women. She's also a recipient of multiple awards, including Emmys, Black Reels, and more.

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Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson

Michael Tyson is a former professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 2005. He reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win a heavyweight title at 20 years, four months and 22 days old.

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Keenan Ivory Wayans

Keenan Ivory Wayans

Keenen Ivory Wayans Sr. is an American actor, comedian, filmmaker, and a member of the Wayans family of entertainers. He first came to prominence as the host and the creator of the 1990–1994 Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color.

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Billy Dee Williams

Billy Dee Williams

“Billy Dee” Williams, Jr. is an American actor, artist, and singer. Williams is best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars film franchise, first appearing in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson was an American singer whose career spanned over five decades, from the mid–1950s until her retirement in the early–2010s. She was notable for her single “(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am” and her version of the standard “Guess Who I Saw Today”.

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Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years from 1986 to 2011.

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John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon is an American comedian and actor who has performed in many television shows and films. Best known for his role in the Friday series, Witherspoon has also starred in films such as Hollywood Shuffle, Boomerang and Vampire In Brooklyn.

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