Tuesday, April 23, 2024

No Good Black Actors? How About Casting These 50-Plus Four Star Names in Mainstream Movies, Please


I got a comment today from someone who actually thinks there are no black actors good enough to be in movies. The whole problem with diversity in Hollywood starts with casting. Directors, producers, and casting directors must change their process so that anyone can be cast in a role regardless of race. Once that happens, the Academy will have no choice but to nominate black actors, and actors of all colors.

Here are 50 black actors who should be up for everything, and considered as often as, say, Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Aniston. I’m leaving out obvious choices like Will & Jada, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker, Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyongo, Alfre Woodard, Rosie Perez, and Idris Elba— they are bona fide stars, and if they’re not being considered for top roles all the time, then we’ve really got a problem. Many on my list are already celebrities, but we need to see more of them everywhere ASAP. And not just in Tyler Perry or Malcolm Lee films. In all films. (P.S. I’m assuming you know that Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson are busy right now.)

PS Send me names. I’m sure I’ve left some off, but 50 seemed like a good place to start. I will post all reader suggestions.

I am starting with David Oyelowo. He was cheated out of an Oscar nomination, if not a win, for “Selma” last year. (I think he just realized that this week. I said so last year.) The rest of this list is no order. You could flip it back and read it upside down if you want…

  1. ANTHONY MACKIE-– What do you want from this guy? He is seriously a movie star.
  2. DEREK LUKE–Hot out of the gate 10 years ago with “Antwone Fisher,” he’s on “Empire” and still looking for his breakthrough. Shameful. He needs the right film, and bang! Overnight sensation.
  3. MICHAEL B. JORDAN-– on a rocket ride to fame and awards with “Fruitvale Station,” “Creed,” just the start. A marquee name in the making.
  4. MALIK YOBA– Works all the time, but still not there. Should be. Also from “Empire” first season after steady credits.
  5. CONDOLA RASHADPhylicia Rashad — one of the most profoundly gifted stage actresses of our time — is her mother, for god’s sake. Respected on Broadway. And young. She should be right in the mix all the time.
  6. ROMANY MALCO— New York insiders know who he is. Great on “Weeds.” Now on “Mad Dogs” on amazon.
  7. SANAA LATHAN-– Stuck in B level TV, should be as big as Aniston or Lawrence or any of them. Stunning. And a real actress. Off Broadway triumph in “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” which should be expanded for HBO or Showtime
  8. GABRIELLE UNION— A superstar. Like Lathan and the next two, could be a Leading Lady in any number of mainstream hits.
  9. ROSARIO DAWSON— Ditto. Watch Chris Rock’s “Top Five” for her and Gabrielle. Come on already.
  10. RUBEN SANTIAGO HUDSON– Accomplished and director who moves easily from movies to TV to Broadway. If he got a great indie film, he’d be in the movie awards mix
  11. TAMARA TUNIE–If you don’t know who this is, stop, go home. Watch “Law & Order.” Theatre, TV, movies. All five star performances.
  12. ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE–(Should have changed his name to Bernie Schwartz)–Mr. Echo from “Lost,” I love this guy. He’s in “Suicide Squad,” so that helps.
  13. UZO ADUBO— I am in love with her. Everyone is. Forget Crazy Eyes. Nothing crazy here. The real thing.
  14. RENEE ELISE GOLDSBERRY— she can sing, she can dance, she can act, from “One Life to Live” to “Law & Order” to “Hamilton,” where she’ll get a Tony nomination this spring
  15. JASON MITCHELL— robbed of nominations for playing EZ-E in “Straight Outta Compton.”
  16. O’SHEA JACKSON JR– Ice Cube’s son, made a huge debut in “SOC.”
  17. TIKA SUMPTER— Stars in Tyler Perry’s “Have and Have Nots,” came from “One Life to Live.” More more more.
  18. LORRAINE TOUSSAINT–“Selma,” “Orange is the New Black,” does lots of TV, should be on Viola’s level
  19. KEITH STANFIELD–was in “Short Term 12” with Brie Larson and Rami Malek, starting to show up
  20. COREY HAWKINS— played Dr Dre so beautifully in “SOC,” otherwise confined to small, odd projects. Needs a lift.
  21. WENDELL PIERCE— One of the greats, you know him from “Treme” and now new “Odd Couple.” Lots of TV. A serious guy who can do anything.
  22. VINESSA ANTOINE— Someone better get her off “General Hospital” fast and make her a star. A Kerry Washington in waiting.
  23. EAMONN WALKER— Yes, he’s on TV all the time but he hasn’t been in a film in 6 years. He’s a leading man. Think Idris Elba
  24. MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ— so cool and capable. “LOST” plus “Fast and Furious” movies.
  25. ANDRE BRAUGHER–the James Earl Jones of this generation
  26. REGINA KING–was in “Ray” with Jamie Foxx, amazing, Emmy winner this year for “American Crime.” In the league of Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer.
  27. HAROLD PERRINEAU– works all the time but “Oz” and “LOST” showed what he can do.
  28. L. (LAVERNE) SCOTT CALDWELL— a great vet already, maybe “Mercy Street” on PBS will push her over the line. Has a following from “LOST” as Rose
  29. MONTEGO GLOVER/NIKKI JAMES/SHALITA GRANT/ANIKA NONI ROSE– hot Broadway stars all making headway in TV and movies.  We need to see them more. (Watch Nikki in “The Good Wife.” Bravo!)
  30.  KRISTOFF ST. JOHN– Only around 45, looks 35, has been on “Young and the Restless” since 1943. A real unsung hero.
  31. EMAYATZY CORINEALDI–Should be a star. Did star in Ava Duvernay’s wonderful “Middle of Nowhere.”
  32. TAYE DIGGS– from “Rent” to “Private Practice” on TV, back to Broadway for “Hedwig.” A star, hands down. Again, where are the roles?
  33. NATE PARKER — started with “The Great Debaters,” now bringing “The Birth of a Nation” to Sundance. Could be this year’s Ryan Coogler (
  34. SOPHIE OKONEDO–From “Hotel Rwanda” to “Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway. A Tony winner. returning to Broadway in “The Crucible.” Kudos to the producers.
  35. CARMEN EJOGO— Played a sublime Coretta Scott King in “Selma.” So, get her some work.
  36. MEAGAN GOOD— Wasted on TV “Minority Report,” funny with Craig Robinson on his sitcom. Gorgeous, which doesn’t hurt.
  37. AISHA HINDS— Lots of credits, mostly TV, but not the big role. Yet. Playing Fannie Lou Hamer in “All the Way” on HBO may do it.
  38. MEKHI PFIFER— “ER” star who’s been in the “Divergent” series but potential for much more.
  39. LATANYA RICHARDSON–Yes, she’s Mrs. Samuel L. Jackson. But she was also the star of “One Center Street” on TV, and was on Broadway in “Raisin in the Sun.” You can’t get enough of her.
  40. NORM LEWIS –A leading man who’s not being used. Also a Broadway STAR.
  41. BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL–Ditto. He was on “Trapper John” in the 80s and hasn’t aged. Also a STAR
  42. GIANCARLO ESPOSITO-Finally got an Emmy nomination in “Breaking Bad.” We know him in New York. Great with a capital G. Working all the time. Thank goodness.
  43. MICHAEL EALY— Good looking, the black Rob Lowe. Like Hill Harper (below), intelligent and immense potential for more.
  44. MISHAEL MORGAN— plays a femme fatale on “Young the Restless.” Turn on TV around noon. You’ll see.
  45. KEITH DAVID— Has a serious Broadway resume to die for. Lots of TV. Works all the time. When he finally gets an Oscar nom, people will say, “Where have you been?”
  46. HILL HARPER-– A lot of TV, like “CSI.” And he’s a best selling author.  Played a heavy in “Concussion.” He’s on “Limitless” now, and much in demand.
  47. GUGU MBATHA RAW– the star of “Belle,” who also got no Oscar attention. Shameful. Just appeared in “Concussion.” Another movie star.
  48. KASI LEMMONS and VONDIE CURTIS HALL--they could be the Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis of this generation. They’re tied for that honor with ANGELA BASSETT and COURTNEY B. VANCE.
  49. DEBBI MORGAN— made a living being great on “All My Children.” Still so much to come.
  50. ANDRE ROYO — Currently on “Empire” and “Happyish,” so if you don’t know who he is, you should.
  51. REGINA HALL – Lots of credits but a new “Rush Hour” movie as Chris Tucker’s wife might do the trick
  52. DULE HILL– Incredibly versatileHe starred on Broadway in “After Midnight,” is in HBO’s “Ballers” right now, and is well known from “Psych” and “The West Wing.”
  53. NICK CANNON— Yes, he does work all the time. But he’s more than a show host. Check hmi out in “Bobby” and “Chi-Raq.”
  54. CCH POUNDER-– last on this but first in our hearts. Currently on “NCIS New Orleans.” Like S. Epatha Merkerson (who was on Law & Order for 75 years)– there’s no TV without these women. Imagine if they were in movies.
  55. Wait! I forgot Ruben Santiago Hudson! And Loretta Devine and James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson from “Grey’s Anatomy.” And Audra McDonald, the Queen of Broadway, and the gang from “How to Get Away with Murder.” And Vivica A. Fox, and Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata from “SNL” and Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson (who we can’t live without, seriously)… send me names! Keith Robinson! Joy Bryant! Peter Parros! Paula Patton! Gabby Sidibe! Teyonah Paris! Steve Harris! Michael Boatman! Ty Jones!

send me more names! either to showbiz411@gmail.com, as a comment on this page, or Twitter @showbiz411


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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