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January 14, 2008



This is a great point of debate.

I would classify a black actor as someone who could pass as a theatre actor, ie, someone who has enough range to do dramatic theatre type roles and yet someone who can translate on celluloid and television seamlessly. Ultimately, a black actor is a black person whose acting abilities are absolutely excellent and versatile...and yup, you guessed it, I have to pick my man Denzel for the prize! Other black actors in my view of the definition are people like Marianne Jean-Baptiste from 'Without A Trace', Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker.

A black movie star on the other hand for me is someone who can pull in people at the box office, this person can also be someone who is a very good and convincing actor but it can also be someone who is not such a great actor but people go and watch the movies regardless because of the 'star power'. A black movie star who I think is not that great acting wise is someone like Ice Cube, LL Cool J,. Ludacris wouldn't be included because he looks like he has some potential if given better parts. A black movie star who is very good at acting would be someone like Will Smith.

Essentially, both terms can become hybrid of each other but at the end of the day someone like Tracey Morgan, as good as he is on 30 rock, he to me, does not have the acting range that is needed to be a top actor, imo.


i agree with aulelia. will smith movie star with some acting chops. sanaa lathan and kerry washington black actors, gabriel union is definitely a movie star.


Aulelia, Iris...

Thanks guys, for sharing your opinion! :)


Now this is a great topic because I do believe there is a difference. Will Smith and Denzel Washington in my opinion are the only two real black male movie stars in Hollywood. Smith and Washington transcend race. White people, Asians, blacks, Native Americans flock to their movies. Washington and Smith also do very well at the international box office.
For black women there is only two black ladies in Hollywood right now Halle Berry and Queen Latifah. Queen Latifah is up there with Halle she definitely gets over $1 million per movie role and she has lucurative endorsements as well.

I call Sanaa Lathan an actress because she is serious about the craft of acting. Sanaa has a Masters degree in Acting from Yale University. Sanaa also is very picky about her film roles. Sanaa has also been in some big movies AVP the Science Fiction flick was rare the black woman was the female lead. AVP grossed over $171 worldwide. Sanaa I think is third after Berry and Queen Latifah at the moment.

Gabrielle Union and Kerry Washington are tied for fourth because I think both are well known but both have not had the breakthrough. Gabrielle unforunately has been typecast as the Romantic Comedy Queen. Kerry has done some mainstream movies that were successful but she hasn't headlined a film yet. Lakeview Terrace coming out laster this year is her first starring role.

Now in the 20something range there are only two young black women that can be classified as movie stars. I know some people don't view Beyonce as an actress but she has international appeal. Hollywood is trying to make Beyonce marketable to an international audience and North American audience. Jennifer Hudson has the Oscar and to her credit she is being wise in her film choices she isn't a movie star yet but she is on her way.


Some people can be both actor and star like Denzel Washington.

Some people just want to be rich and famous and have no desire to be an accomplished actor as long as they are getting paid and are in the spotlight, those are stars.

The true actors generally have a passion for their craft that allows them to keep training and exploring their abilities regardless of how much fame and fortune comes their way.

There are some people who's desire to become a star is so strong that they will push themselves to the point where their skills surpass those of people who's sole passion is acting. These people will usually give up acting eventually if the hope of fame and fortune dwindles.


@ Qadree

Yup; that pretty much sums it up. I totally agree.

johnny wishbone

uh.. denzel is a movie star. he very rarely "acts.".. it may not be his fault.. he may have to take certain roles.. but its always law enforcement or soldier.. now he had a great role in "mo' betta blues" and did a great job in it. Malcolm X he did a fantastic job. he needs to get outside the box.


@ Johnny

I like Denzel. I respect him. But I completely agree. I would like for him to go out the box, too.

@ Everyone

As always, thank you for sharing your comments.


I guess we'll just have to disagree on the Denzel thing. I can't think of too many people that can hang with him in terms of skill level, though Forest Whitaker did burn him a little bit in that "Debaters" flick.

I say he's a star and actor because he does make sacrifices in order to appeal to his fan base, but that does not diminish his skill level. When he did "Training Day" there were endless complaints about him playing such a negative role, and with "American Gangster" he tried to clean the role up a bit, but I was still seeing black writers roast him for taking a drug dealer role.

Denzel gets 20 million dollars just to show up on the set, that's an expensive boat you're asking him to rock, and I don't blame him for not rocking it. There are plenty of talented black actors that can't pay their bills and I don't think he's trying to join them.


Don't forget Jeffrey Wright. He is an actor's actor. He is respected by the whole industry for his craft. Now, he can't open a movie but he's amazing to watch b/c he's a chameleon. One day, I hope he gets the the roles, accolades and awards of someone like a Phillip Seymour Hoffman.



Oh no, I definitely haven't forgotten about him! :) I'm planning to highlight Jeffrey Wright very, very soon.

Thanks, CRS.


Denzel is a great actor and movie star,while Will is a great movie star.Worldwide Will is a Bigger movie star,surpassing his white comtemparaies a great accomplishment considering where he started.Denzel has the great body of work,know he's trying to get paid also he just received 20 mill per picture.It doesn't matter how hard you work at your craft you need the talent to go along with the work ethic.Denzel is one of the greatest actors of are time reguardless of race


@ Ali

Thanks for sharing your comments, Ali!


I remember a movie that had a political and perhaps science fiction theme. The protagonist was a Black presidential candidate. However, he was really an alien. How did they figure it out? His palms were not lighter than his other skin. It was in B&W. Have no idea when, but only saw it on TV twice, maybe 30 years ago. Actor lead was well known. I saw him many other times. 50ist. Can't remember his name or the movies name. Thanks.


@ Sandra

Hmmmmmmm. Doesn't ring a bell with me, either.



I found what I was looking for. Roscoe Lee Browne played an Alien candidate on "The Vise" episode of "The Invaders" which aired February 20, 1968.

Bob M

can someone help me find a movie made in the early years of speaking movies, it is about a slave family that is abused by the Master and his infamous WHIP, one of the slaves is a preacher or head of the family.

in the end the head of the slave family telles them of how he went to the masters house and beat him with his own Whip.

Please try to help by sending me a email to myhres25@hotmail.com


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