Acting Black Blogathon

Wendell over at Dell on Movies always has the greatest ideas for Blogathons. This time, he asks us to highlight black actors. I'd love to write a brilliant think piece on an actor or performance I love, but the truth is, I'm not very good at it. So I decided to go with a top 10 list of great performances by black actors in no particular order.

1) Adepero Oduye - Pariah

When I first saw the blogathon, this is who I wanted to write about, but I can barely put into words how amazing Oduye is in this film. She's so tragic and strong and moving. This is just a powerful film all together.

2) Akosua Busia - The Color Purple

"Nothing but death can keep me from it." I cry every single time I watch this scene. Busia has a small part in this film, but she leaves a lasting impact. I couldn't stop thinking of her as the film kept playing and Celie, the main character grew older. My mind always went back to Nettie. The acting in this film is outstanding all around.

3) Tyrese Gibson - Baby Boy

Okay, let me explain. This is my best friend since childhood's favorite movie. Both of us perved over Gibson when we were in high school, but this film, despite being really hard to watch at times is very nostalgic to me. I think of watching it with my friend in nights when we snuck home after getting drunk. Tyrese's intense performance is a good way to sober up. His character is a massive fuck up, you can't look away.

4) Don Cheadle - Manic

It's hard to choose a Don Cheadle performance. This guy is great in everything, but one that always stands out to me is this little film called Manic. He plays a doctor in a rehabilitation facility for teenagers, and he's perfect in this role. He's caring, comforting, stern, and realistic. Everything someone in that film needs to be.

5) Rosario Dawson - Explicit Ills

Like Cheadle, Dawson is consistently good and I also wanted to talk about a performance of hers in a little film. She plays a very dedicated mother trying her hardest to get her son's asthma medicine. There's a lot of great performances in this film but Dawson stands out. She has a comforting presence. (

6) Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

This is one of my favorite movies and Forest Whitaker is an absolute force. In the course of the film he goes from charming to terrifying so seamlessly. 

7) Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I should start off by saying I hated this movie. I really did, I hated every single minute of it except when Henson was on screen. She was wonderful, she was heartbreaking, her character was a good person and she was a bright light in this bleak film. I legitimately got super pissed when Button's daughter ended up being named after his bio mom instead of her. Fuck that. 

8) Samuel L. Jackson - Pulp Fiction

I think this is the most quotable performance on my list. Jackson is perfection in Pulp Fiction. What else can I say? He always plays characters that have this "cool" vibe to him and Jules is just a badass.

9) Morgan Freeman - Se7en

Another one of my favorite films. Freeman's wise detective serves as our anchor. Brad Pitt's character is impulsive, Freeman's isn't. He's steady and smart and in a film like this, we need Morgan Freeman to keep us calm.

10) Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan - Love & Basketball

I cheated. I couldn't choose just one of them. This is another nostalgic film for me. I played basketball in high school and my entire team loved this movie. Epps and Lathan had amazing chemistry. That scene where they shoot and strip?  *cues SNL's "First Got Horny 2U*

Honorable Mentions:
Taye Diggs in everything he touches - that guy oozes charisma.

Issac Hayes in South Park. - Chef is an icon. Even though Hayes left on bad terms, and that was really hard for South Park fans, his legacy before all that drama lives on. 

Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station - This was the first film I saw Jordan in and what a way to start - he's wonderful.

Meagan Good in Brick. - This is very small role, but her character kept it real. I love that.

Mya Taylor in Tangerine - More of her, please. 

Queen Latifah in Hairspray - I love the remake far more than the original and she was so perfect in it. Shout out to Elijah Kelly as well.

Daniel Kaluuya in The Fades - It was great seeing him taking a dramatic turn in Sicario this year to show is range, but I always love him as the goofy side kick in this short lived British series. 

Abraham Attah in Beasts of No Nation - One of my favorite lead performances of this year.

Thanks for hosting, Wendell!


  1. Reading, reading, reading...BOW to your mention of Sanaa Lathan! BOW!!! That performance is one that I constantly go back to as one of the very best of the aughts. So glad to see you highlight it here!

    1. Writing this made me wish I owned that movie, It's not even on Netflix Instant. I'm going to have to buy it lol.

  2. I have not seen a lot of these films but now I do! Forest was excellent as the evil idi Amin. I loved Queen Latifah in Hairspray. Taraji is excellent in Benjamin Button and I felt the same way about not naming their child after her. I love Don Cheadle but always go back to his Oscar nominated role (he should have won) in Hotel Rwanda. I think of Sydney Poitier in Lillies of the Field but also in The Defiant Ones. Samuel L Jackson is great in Pulp fiction-it wouldn't have been the same with a different actor. I can pick many movies with Denzel Washington but I loved him in The Hurricane

    1. Hotel Rwanda killed me. I almost went with that but I wanted to highlight smaller films.

      I just realized I left out some that I should've included uggghhhh.

  3. Love that you had some familiar faces in roles I wasn't expecting you to highlight. Really love that of all the amazing performances in The Color Purple you went with Busia. Stroke of genius, right there. I still need to see a few of these, especially Pariah. The ones I have are brilliant. I'm including Baby Boy. I think it's a vastly underrated film and Tyrese is excellent, though Ving Rhames may be my fave, there. And Taraji's there, too! Yes, to BB naming his daughter after her. Nothing really to say about SLJ or Freeman and their work in those movies other than they're just perfect. And Love & Basketball makes an appearance on my own blog today. Thanks for participating!

    1. Thank YOU for hosting! I'm glad you love some of these performances too. I'm also glad I'm not the only one salty over that little scene in Benjamin Button.

  4. good ones! I actually haven't seen Baby Boy, Manic, or Explicit Ills.

    1. The last two are great. You will probably think I'm crazy for liking Baby Boy lol

  5. Don Cheadle in Manic was great. That was a character that was against all of the grains of what you usually see with counselors as it felt real. Even as he talked about how angry he was and why he also wanted to break some shit as he gave those kids someone they can count on no matter how fucked up the world is.

    1. I thought he was so realistic and perfect in that movie. Everything you said is why I love him.

  6. I haven't seen your top 6, loved the performances of the remaining 4, especially Morgan Freeman. My watch list count has officially gone up. Great list!

  7. Great list! Good call on Akosua Busia, she was great in The Color Purple. My favourite is among the honorable mentions though. Abraham Attah in Beasts of No Nation probably gave the best performance by a child actor I've ever seen.

    1. I agree! He was amazing and should have a lead actor Oscar nomination right about now.

  8. Oh man, this is an awesome list! There are a few I still need to check out though. I was considering writing about Wesley Snipes for this blogathon, but hmmm maybe I should *steal* your idea of a list instead!

  9. This is fantastic, Brittani. Very cool (though...uh...I haven't seen many of these films).

    Love & Basketball is one I have somehow avoided, even though I played ball as a kid, too. My team's favorite hoops movie? Sunset Park. And White Men Can't Jump. Uh...and Space Jam. Not necessarily in that order, either.

    Oh, and I've only seen one minute of Baby Boy, and it was Tyrese yelling shit about 'make me some tacos!' and I laughed so much I couldn't stand to see another second of it.

    Oh, and SLJ wins the list. Hands down.

    1. Space Jam! God, I love that movie. I feel so proud that it was my childhood that got a film like that. Baby Boy is pretty ridiculous at times lol.

  10. So much YES!!! Ugh, Cheadle, Lathan, and Freeman are so underrated in those movies. I really need to see Explicit Ills and Baby Boy.

    1. They are! I really like Explicit Ills. I don't think it got the best reviews, but I always enjoyed it.


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