White actors make up the vast majority of Hollywood’s acting talent pool. Despite this, several black performers throughout cinema history have brought iconic roles to life on the silver screen even though they have dark skin—affirming the spirit of peace that permeates contemporary civilization and rejecting the notion that it is discriminatory.
The richness, complexity, and entertainment value of Black narratives in television and film increase annually. From the great stories of our youth to the relevant features that form our adulthood, there are always one or two projects that become cult classics or feature characters so fascinating that they become enduring icons of popular culture.
However, in the previous two decades of media, several Black characters have swiftly etched their imprint on entertainment history and established themselves as icons. Here are 15 Black characters from television and movies which will have an enduring influence on future generations.
1. T’Challa – Black Panther (Played by Chadwick Boseman)
|T Challa Black||Information|
|Full Name||T’Challa – Black Panther (Played by Chadwick Boseman)|
|Place of origin||Wakanda, Africa|
|Abilities||Enhanced strength, endurance, speed, agility, reflexes, stamina, and senses|
|Notable aliases||King of the Dead|
|Other Information||The first protagonist of African descent in mainstream American comics|
Black Panther will always be remembered as one of the essential movies in Marvel’s canon because it was the first superhero film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award in the highly coveted category of Best Picture.
In addition, the film was nominated for awards by the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild. Additionally, the film was nominated for a Golden Globe, which was a first in the award show’s history.
T’Challa is the current king of Wakanda, the greatest nation in Africa. He is also the keeper of the Black Panther’s power. He is considered one of the greatest brains in the world. He has dedicated his life to saving humanity using Wakanda’s cutting-edge Vibranium technology and his riches and financial potential.
2. Princess Tiana – The Princess and the Frog (Voiced by Anika Noni Rose)
|Full Name||Princess Tiana – The Princess and the Frog (Voiced by Anika Noni Rose)|
|First Appearance||The Princess and the Frog (2009)|
|Created by||Ron Clements|
|Voiced by||Anika Noni Rose|
|Based on||Princess Emma from The Frog Princess|
|Inspired by||Leah Chase (famed New Orleans chef)|
|Title||Princess of Maldonia|
|Relatives||King of Maldonia (father-in-law)|
|Additional Information||– First African American princess in the Disney Princess franchise|
Tiana‘s path was magical, as are all Disney love tales, but her importance as the first Black and first American princess is genuine, particularly to her followers.
Her appearance was the first time many Disney fans watched someone who resembled them have her tale, complete with realistic aspirations, anxieties, and hardships and discovering love so strong that it can break a magical spell! She became more than a princess; she is now a symbol.
A journey into Disney’s hand-drawn animation universe may be found in The Princess and the Frog. It’s an ancient fairy tale, but it’s been blended with new spices to create a lively, adventurous narrative packed with music and an extraordinary Disney-exclusive sensation of love.
3. John Coffey – The Green Mile (Played by Michael Clarke Duncan)
Since John Coffey was executed in The Green mile, more than two decades have passed (1999). The world is still as dark as the day he entered, and viewers are still troubled thinking about him, coming home to prison with warden Paul Edgecomb and mixed good and bad people.
If Gerald Butler is forever King Leonidas, Harrison Ford is forever Han Solo, then Michael Clarke Duncan is the one born to play John Coffey. After appearing in Michael Bay’s blockbuster Armageddon, he was noticed by Bruce Willis and recommended for the role of Armageddon.
The more you watch, the more emotional and angry the reader will be because of John’s pain: He is not angry when he is disparaged as a nigger, not excited when he is slandered. He only burst into tears when he hugged the bodies of two unlucky children and blamed himself for not pulling (death) out of them.
4. Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction (Played by Samuel L. Jackson)
|Full Name||Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction (Played by Samuel L. Jackson)|
|Directed by||Quentin Tarantino|
|Written by||Quentin Tarantino|
|Produced by||Lawrence Bender|
|Starring||John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman|
|Edited by||Sally Menke|
|Production Companies||A Band Apart, Jersey Films|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Release dates||May 21, 1994 (Cannes), October 14, 1994 (United States)|
|Running time||154 minutes|
|Box office||$213.9 million|
|Film Description||Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It tells four intertwining tales of crime and violence in Los Angeles, California. The title refers to the pulp magazines and hardboiled crime novels popular during the mid-20th century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.|
|Critical Reception||Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was a major critical and commercial success. It was nominated for seven awards at the 67th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Original Screenplay. The film is widely regarded as Tarantino’s magnum opus, with particular praise for its screenwriting. It has appeared on many critics’ lists of the greatest films ever made. In 2013, Pulp Fiction was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”|
|Narrative Structure||Pulp Fiction’s narrative is told out of chronological order and follows three main interrelated stories that each have a different protagonist: Vincent Vega, a hitman; Butch Coolidge, a prizefighter; and Jules Winnfield, Vincent’s business partner. The film begins with a diner hold-up staged by a couple, then shifts between storylines before returning to the diner for the conclusion. The structure of the film has been described as a “circular narrative” or “episodic narrative with circular events.”|
|Impact and Legacy||Pulp Fiction is often considered a cultural watershed, influencing films and other media with its style and unconventional structure. It is regarded as a touchstone of postmodern film and is widely praised for its screenplay, self-reflexivity, and eclectic dialogue. The cast, including Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as Jules Winnfield, has received widespread acclaim. The film’s success had a significant impact on independent cinema, and it continues to be celebrated as one of the greatest films ever made.|
Pulp Fiction premiered at the Cannes Feature Festival (France) in May 1994 and won the Palm d’Or for best film. The film has become a sensation in the film business due to its non-linear narrative and lead, which ingeniously connects three little tales via characters and elements.
Samuel Jackson plays the devout assassin Jules Winnfield, Vincent’s teammate. The character is known for his moralistic personality, often reading Ezekiel 25:17 in the Bible before killing people even though he doesn’t understand the meaning.
After meeting Samuel Jackson on the set of “True Romance,” Tarantino said he penned the role just for him. Numerous reviewers consider the character one of the “icons” of 1990s Hollywood movies due to their appealing, sincere, insightful, and sarcastic on-screen persona. He earned an Oscar nod for his supporting role.
5. Storm – X-Men (Played by Halle Berry)
|Storm X Men||Information|
|Full Name||Storm – X-Men (Played by Halle Berry)|
|First appearance||Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)|
|Created by||Len Wein, Dave Cockrum|
|Alter ego||Ororo Munroe|
|Place of origin||New York City|
|Notable aliases||Weather Witch, White King, Windrider|
|Abilities||Atmokinesis, Flight, Ecological empathy, Temperature and pressure resistance|
|Background||Descended from a long line of African witch-priestesses, Storm is a member of a fictional subspecies of humans born with superhuman abilities known as mutants. She is able to control the weather and atmosphere, making her one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe.|
|Childhood||Raised in Harlem, New York City and Cairo, Egypt, Storm became an orphan after her parents were killed during an Arab-Israeli conflict.|
|Leadership||Storm has demonstrated natural leadership skills and has led the X-Men at various times. She has also been a member of other superhero teams such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.|
|Romantic Relationship||Storm was married to Black Panther, the ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. However, they later divorced.|
|Historical Significance||Storm is Marvel Comics’ first major female character of African descent, and she is regarded as one of Marvel’s most notable and powerful female heroes.|
|Popularity||Storm has appeared in various forms of media, including animation, television, video games, and films. Halle Berry portrayed Storm in multiple X-Men films.|
|Evolution||Storm’s appearance has evolved over the years, including a notable change to a punk mohawk hairstyle. She is known for her iconic black leather costume.|
Halle Berry played Storm in the “X-Men” series in the first episode of 2000. In later installments, Storm’s role was partially enhanced by Berry’s growing popularity. The character is impressive with white hair and robust weather control, but his personality is still pale compared to the original version in the comics.
Appearing in all three episodes of the original X-Men and Days of Future Past, Storm was one of Professor Xavier’s first students and also led the X-Men during Cyclops’ absence. Real name Ororo Munreo, this character has the power to control the weather and is portrayed on screen by Oscar-winning star – Halle Berry.
This “Bond girl” with a robust and seductive appearance said that she performed well in the role thanks to her empathy with the character when she had a childhood wishing to be able to change herself so that she could learn to accept herself as an adult.
6. Frozone – The Incredibles (Played by Samuel L. Jackson)
|Full Name||Frozone – The Incredibles (Played by Samuel L. Jackson)|
|Directed by||Brad Bird|
|Written by||Brad Bird|
|Starring||Samuel L. Jackson|
|Cinematography||Andrew Jimenez, Patrick Lin, Janet Lucroy|
|Edited by||Stephen Schaffer|
|Music by||Michael Giacchino|
|Production Companies||Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures Distribution|
|Release dates||October 24, 2004 (El Capitan Theatre)|
|Running time||115 minutes|
|Box office||$631.6 million|
The Incredibles and its sequel delivered a positive and sarcastic perspective on the recurring themes prevalent in superhero films during the current period of the superhero movie craze. To the joy of children and adults alike, Brad Bird’s films emphasized not just the behind-the-scenes activities of superheroes but also their alter personas.
Frozone may not be the major character in The Incredibles, but he is nevertheless a cult favorite, and he has more depth than meets the eye. Frozone is Bob’s greatest buddy, and he boasts the power to transform water and steam into ice, which, as a result, often causes adversaries to tumble over on their backs. He never hesitates to rush into any conflict zone and fight for what he believes to be correct.
7. Vernita Green aka Copperhead- Kill Bill vol. 1 (played by Vivica A. Fox)
Since Vernita Green participated in the Massacre at Two Pines as a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Beatrix Kiddo included her name on Death List Five. Vernita Green’s involvement in the Massacre at Two Pines led Beatrix Kiddo to put her name on the list.
Eventually, Vernita abandoned her profession as an assassin and married Dr. Lawrence Bell under the nickname Jeannie Bell. Soon after, Nikkia Bell was born.
A fierce African-American lady excels in mixed martial arts and never backs down from a challenge in the ring. In my uninformed view, she should have been known by the moniker “Black Mamba” rather than any other name.
8. Rue Bennett – Euphoria (played by Zendaya)
|Full Name||Rue Bennett – Euphoria (played by Zendaya)|
|Occupation||High school student|
|Residence||Suburban town in the United States|
|Relationships||Close friends: Jules Vaughn, Fezco, Lexi Howard, McKay, Cassie Howard|
|Known for||Struggles with addiction and mental health|
|Awards||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Zendaya)|
|Education||Attends high school|
|Hobbies and Interests||Music: Enjoys listening to various genres|
Rue Bennett, the adolescent drug addict portrayed by Zendaya, is a relatively new character, yet it is not shallow. If the fact that the Euphoria actress won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series at the youngest age ever for her portrayal doesn’t tip you off to the truth of this statement, nothing else will.
After Viola Davis from How to Get Away With Murder, who was the first to push the limits of the Emmys in 2015, she is the second Black actress to get the honor.
Rue is portrayed disturbingly by the highly renowned Zendaya. The suburban adolescent, traumatized by the loss of her father, seeks refuge and satisfaction in oblivion’s emptiness. Zendaya makes love Rue worthwhile, despite its difficulty.
9. Juan – Moonlight (Played by Mahershala Ali)
|Full Name||Juan – Moonlight (Played by Mahershala Ali)|
|Directed by||Barry Jenkins|
|Screenplay by||Barry Jenkins|
|Story by||Tarell Alvin McCraney|
|Produced by||Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner|
|Starring||Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali|
|Edited by||Nat Sanders, Joi McMillon|
|Music by||Nicholas Britell|
|Production Companies||A24, Plan B Entertainment, Pastel Productions|
|Release Dates||September 2, 2016 (Telluride), October 21, 2016 (United States)|
|Running Time||111 minutes|
|Box Office||$65.2 million|
Ali’s portrayal of Juan barely appears in the opening scene of the 2016 film, but his brilliant treatment of the character’s complexities has a lasting effect on any audience.
Juan, a drug dealer in Liberty City, Miami, discovers a little boy called Chiron, first portrayed by Alex Hibbert and subsequently by Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes, hiding from bullies in a crackhouse with his mother, Paula (Naomie Harris).
Juan gradually warms to Chiron, transforming himself into a pseudo-father figure and mentor to the reclusive boy constantly bullied for “the way he walks.” When asked by ET about delving further into his character as Juan, Ali said that his responsibility was to “make these people human.”
10. Olivia Pope – Scandal (played by Kerry Washington)
|Full Name||Olivia Pope – Scandal (played by Kerry Washington)|
|Directed by||Victor Vu|
|Written by||Victor Vu, Hong Phuc, Cao Tan Loc|
|Produced by||Pham Viet Anh Khoa, Tran Thi Bich Ngoc|
|Starring||Van Trang, Maya, Minh Thuan, Khuong Ngoc, Duong Hoang Anh, Lan Phuong|
|Music by||Christopher Wong|
|Production Companies||PS Vietnam, Kantana Post, Vietcom|
|Release date||October 12, 2012|
|Running time||90 minutes|
|Box Office||$1,500,000 USD (Vietnam)|
|Also Known As||Bí Mật Thảm Đỏ|
|Plot||Two actresses compete with each other for roles, allowing ambition and personal jealousy to influence their judgment, resulting in terrifying consequences.|
“Scandal” (2012) is an American television series; the content revolves around the crisis management company of Olivia Pope – Former Director of the White House Communications Department, who successfully “created” the President. US president.
Kerry Washington portrays the main character Olivia Pope, based on the former deputy press secretary for President George Bush, Judy Smith. Olivia Pope represents the pride of successful and outstanding women.
The impeccable fashion style further emphasizes this character’s robust, professional but feminine character. Olivia’s sophisticated and mesmerizing fashion sense is every girl’s dream and inspiration.
11. Chris Washington – Get Out (played by Daniel Kaluuya)
|Full Name||Chris Washington – Get Out (played by Daniel Kaluuya)|
|Directed by||Jordan Peele|
|Produced by||Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., Jordan Peele|
|Starring||Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Lil Rel Howery, LaKeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Catherine Keener|
|Edited by||Gregory Plotkin|
|Music by||Michael Abels|
|Production Companies||Blumhouse Productions, QC Entertainment, Monkeypaw Productions|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release dates||January 23, 2017 (Sundance), February 24, 2017 (United States)|
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$255.4 million|
|Directorial Debut||Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, known for his work in comedy, who successfully transitions into the horror genre with this film.|
|Critical Acclaim||Get Out received critical acclaim for its screenplay, direction, acting, and social critiques. It has been recognized as one of the top films of the year by various organizations.|
|Commercial Success||Despite its modest budget, Get Out became a major commercial success, grossing over $255 million worldwide.|
|Awards and Nominations||Get Out won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya). It earned nominations at other prestigious awards ceremonies as well.|
|Cultural Impact||Get Out has been hailed by critics as one of the best films of the 2010s and the 21st century, sparking discussions about its themes of racism and social commentary.|
Get Out by Jordan Peele will undoubtedly be one of the most-discussed films of the twenty-first century.
No matter how you felt about the horror movie’s meditation on race and racism, the fact remains that it has withstood the test of time. This is particularly true when considering how pertinent dialogues are continually being made in the society that we are now living in.
Chris Washington is a significant component of the winning recipe. Chris, a young photographer traveling to meet the family of his lover Rose (Allison Williams), is forced to fight for his life as the encounter turns deadly.
The film studies race and prejudice conceived in the days after Barack Obama’s victory, a moment that Peele described as a “post-racial lie.”
12. Annalise Keating – How To Get Away With Murder (played by Viola Davis)
|Full Name||Annalise Keating – How To Get Away With Murder (played by Viola Davis)|
|Series||How to Get Away with Murder|
|Created by||Peter Nowalk|
|Portrayed by||Viola Davis|
|First Appearance||“Pilot” (1.01)|
|Last Appearance||“Stay” (6.15)|
|Occupation||Defense attorney, Professor|
|Family||Ophelia Harkness (mother), Mac Harkness (father), Celestine Harkness (sister), Thelonious Harkness (brother)|
|Significant Other||Solomon Vick, Nate Lahey, Eve Rothlo, Emmett Crawford, Robert Hsieh, Tegan Price|
|Education||University of Tennessee, Harvard Law School|
|Introduction||Complex, high-profile criminal defense attorney and law professor at Middleton University|
|Character Development||Balancing personal life and public scrutiny, emotional changes, and increasing alcohol addiction|
|Background||Born as Anna Mae Harkness, experienced sexual abuse as a child, relationship with Eve Rothlo, later married Sam Keating|
|Main Narrative||Chooses five students to work with her, gets involved in murder cases, becomes protective of her students|
|Flashbacks||Criminal defense teacher at Middleton University, forms a law firm with selected students, involved in covering up Sam’s murder|
|Flash-forwards||Deals with police investigations, frames Nate Lahey, faces accusations from Sam’s sister, hides the body of Rebecca|
|Season Highlights||Defending the Hapstall siblings, investigating Wes’ mother’s suicide, car accident and losing her baby|
|Challenges||Threats to her position at the university, FBI investigation, charges of being responsible for multiple deaths|
|Closure||Exonerated after an impassioned closing argument, loses Frank and Bonnie, funeral held many years into the future|
How To Get Away With Murder focuses mainly on the professional and personal lives of Annalise Keating, a professor of criminal law at Middleton University in Philadelphia. Each year, Annalise chooses the top students in her class to study while working in her law practice.
How To Get Away With Murder is comparable to its sister show, Scandal, in that its main heroine is a woman of color. This is an uncommon occurrence in American culture, as the primary character of an entire television series.
Viola Davis was entrusted with the role of Annalise, the series’ spirit and a heroine with a complicated personality that fluctuates between forceful and frigid and fragile and compassionate. Despite her lackluster appearance, Viola Davis has extraordinary acting ability. She received two Academy Award nominations for Doubt (2008) and The Help (2011).
13. Ryan Wilder – Batwoman (played Javicia Leslie)
|Full Name||Ryan Wilder – Batwoman (played by Javicia Leslie)|
|Genre||Superhero, Drama, Crime, Mystery|
|Based on||Batwoman by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen|
|Starring||Ruby Rose, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson, Elizabeth Anweis, Dougray Scott, Javicia Leslie, Victoria Cartagena, Robin Givens, Nick Creegan|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||51|
|Executive producers||Caroline Dries, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Geoff Johns, David Nutter, Marcos Siega, James Stoteraux, Chad Fiveash|
|Production locations||Vancouver, British Columbia, Chicago, Illinois|
|Running time||42–43 minutes|
|Production companies||Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television|
|Original network||The CW|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||October 6, 2019 – March 2, 2022|
|Series Premise||Ryan Wilder, portrayed by Javicia Leslie, takes on the mantle of Batwoman to protect Gotham City. The series explores her journey as she battles villains, navigates her personal life, and embraces her role as a vigilante.|
Leslie wore the iconic Batwoman costume for the first time in the second season of The CW’s Batwoman, and in doing so, she created history and altered the course of the franchise.
The former God Friended Me star was the first Black actress to portray Batwoman in a live-action TV series or film, with her character Ryan Wilder succeeding Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane as Gotham’s guardian after Rose departs from the series after season one.
Although Ryan was developed mainly for the live-action series, she has officially made her debut in the DC Comics universe, first appearing in Batgirl #50 and subsequently in Batman: Urban Legends #5.
In addition, she makes her first costumed comic appearance in Earth-Prime, a tie-in comic book focusing on Batwoman and other DC television programs.
14. Morpheus – The Matrix Series (played by Laurence Fishburne)
|Full Name||Morpheus – The Matrix Series (played by Laurence Fishburne)|
|Role||Captain of the Nebuchadnezzar|
|Known For||Iconic sunglasses, deep voice|
|Directed by||The Wachowskis|
|Written by||The Wachowskis|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Starring||Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano|
|Music by||Don Davis|
|Production Companies||Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, Groucho II Film Partnership, Silver Pictures|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. (worldwide), Roadshow Entertainment (Australia)|
|Running Time||136 minutes|
|Countries||United States, Australia|
|Box Office||$467.2 million|
If you love science-fiction films, you must see The Matrix. The 1999 publication The Matrix has become one of the finest science fiction masterpieces.
Morpheus portrays a real-world leader who is stubborn and brave in the face of hardship. He was the one that forced Neo out of his cozy Matrix existence and revealed the truth to him. Morpheus considers Neo to be the chosen one.
This belief stays unchanged despite Neo’s blunders. Morpheus was a father figure to Neo and the whole crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, teaching them survival and battle techniques.
Even though Morpheus’s position is no longer prominent, he remains a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. This character does not desire personal glory. His altruism made him the protagonist of the Matrix trilogy.
15. Finn / FN-2187 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (played by John Boyega)
|Full Name||Finn / FN-2187 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (played by John Boyega)|
|First appearance||The Force Awakens (2015)|
|Created by||Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, Michael Arndt|
|Portrayed by||John Boyega|
|Occupation||First Order Stormtrooper (formerly), Resistance fighter, General (Episode IX)|
|Affiliation||First Order (formerly), Resistance|
|Notable Films||The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker|
|Notable Abilities||Skilled fighter, piloting, and combat tactics|
|Awards||BAFTA Rising Star Award|
|Nominations||Saturn Award for Best Actor|
|Cultural Impact||Praised portrayal of a Black character in a prominent role in the Star Wars franchise|
|Popularity||Beloved character among fans, known for his journey from a stormtrooper to a key member of the Resistance|
Finn immediately became a fan favorite as his journey developed in the first film. Finn’s virtuous, compassionate, and loyal demeanor quickly attracted him to followers, and his determination to find his way made him a fascinating character to explore.
A persona who provoked fans to consider the people under the helmet and ponder what could have been, particularly when fans were given a glimpse of what may have been. Finn’s existence had so much promise, and Boyega’s charisma made us all want to dive deeper.
Regardless of how you feel about his conclusion, it cannot be denied that Boyega’s Finn has left his stamp on Star Wars history.