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Best Performances By Black Actors/Actresses Ever? (Survey)

Best Performances By Black Actors/Actresses Ever? (Survey)

Slow day (although that could change at any minute), so how about some survey fun. Revisiting a topic from about 3 years ago, when we had about 50 readers of the site daily… Now let’s see what the responses are like with 100 billion daily S&A readers!

Unlike the previous time, today I’m leaving all the “work” up to you folks to do; I’d like to come up with a list of the best performances by actors and actresses of African descent EVER, and I’m eliciting the wisdom of the Shadow & Act readers.

Going back to the days of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, through the present day – share your choices of those onscreen film performances that you’d consider some of the strongest, most memorable, and the most definitive.

The performances can be primary, secondary, or peripheral. The actors may have been on screen for the entire length of the film, or just for a single memorable minute.

I’m asking for film performances only – so, no television series (although television movies count), and no theatre. And don’t limit yourself to black American actors and actresses. Wander outside these United States. This site’s focus is the entire African diaspora after all. 

Maybe it’s Denzel Washington in “Malcolm X;” Cicely Tyson & Paul Winfield in “Sounder;” Cicely Tyson in “The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman;” Paul Robeson in “Body and Soul,” or “Emperor Jones;” Rachel Mwanza in “War Witch;” Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto in “Blue Collar;” Eriq Ebouaney in “Lumumba;” Danny Glover in “To Sleep with Anger;” Jeffrey Wright in “Basquiat;” Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave;” Adepero Oduye in “Pariah;” Marianne Jean-Baptiste in “Secrets & Lies;” Giancarlo Esposito in anything, etc, etc, etc…

One thing I love about this idea is that, your replies just might introduce a film to another reader that they may never have heard of nor seen, and will be inspired to check out. I may also learn a thing or three. So dig in below in the comments section with your own picks. Look beyond the films themselves, and focus on performances strictly. 

About a week or two from now (depending on when replies stop coming in), I’ll look over all your responses and come up with a top 10 list, based on what you say, and publish on this blog. So choose wisely! Remember this is a “Best Ever” list; not a round-up of what you think were good performances throughout film history.

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