39 Young Black Male Actors Under 40
Hollywood is filled with Black actors.
When you first think of Black actors, you probably think of Denzel Washington and Will Smith.
But what about the younger, up-and-coming actors who have made names and are still looking to make names for themselves?
From Tony winners to Emmy winners, here are 39 young black male actors under 40.
Trevante Rhodes is an actor whose career began to take off in 2016.
While now 30 years old, his career began in 2012.
Although he was an accomplished track and field sprinter, he soon decided to pursue acting.
He appeared in a few movies before his breakout role in the 2016 Oscar-winning film Moonlight.
He would then go on to appear in the popular Netflix original Birdbox, alongside Sandra Bullock.
His next role will be in the film The United States vs. Billie Holiday, also starring Andra Day.
Michael B. Jordan
When it comes to Black male actors, Michael B. Jordan is definitely one of the most popular.
His career began when he was just 12 years old.
His first major role was in the HBO series The Wire.
The actor has since appeared in other television series that include All My Children and Friday Night Lights.
His filmography includes Fruitvale Station, Creed, the sequel to the Rocky film franchise, and most recently Black Panther.
Not to be confused with Danny Glover, you might also know Donald Glover by his music stage name, Childish Gambino.
His career began as a writer for the show 30 Rock.
One of his first major acting roles was in the sitcom Community, which he starred in for four years.
Since then, he’s had small roles in films that include Magic Mike XXL and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
More notably, you can now see Glover in the series Atlanta.
The creator and occasionally working as the director, he has since won two Golden Globe awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards.
Lakeith Stanfield has been acting since 2008.
It would take him five years until he got his film debut where he appeared in the film Short Term 12.
Since then, you can probably recognize his face from a few of his other projects.
While I’ll never forget him being stuck in the sunken place in the 2017 film Get Out, you might also recognize him from Selma or his role as Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton.
Leslie Odom Jr.
I’m a huge fan of Leslie Odom Jr., and if you’ve seen Hamilton, you would be too.
He’s been acting since 1998 and has appeared in TV shows like CSI: Miami, Vanished, and Person of Interest.
He has also been working on recent projects like The Many Saints of Newark.
Even so, he is more commonly recognized for his role as Aaron Burr in the Broadway production of Hamilton, a role which earned him a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
John Boyega first stepped onto the acting scene at 19 years old when he starred in the movie Attack the Block.
He would appear in a few other movies until 2015 when he starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The film would earn him a host of nominations for breakthrough performances.
The actor has since starred in films like Detroit and sequel Star Wars films.
Winston Duke is relatively new on the acting scene.
His first role was in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2014.
While he appeared in other series like Person of Interest and Modern Family, you’re probably more familiar with his film work.
Duke’s name started getting recognized after he appeared in the 2018 film Black Panther, alongside Michael B. Jordan, another name on this list.
He has since appeared in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame as well as the Jordan Peele horror movie, Us.
Probably the youngest name on this list, Caleb McLaughlin is only 19 years old.
His career began in 2012 when he first appeared in a short film.
He would then have small roles in TV shows that included Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Shades of Blue.
His breakout role came in the form of the Netflix Original Stranger Things where he plays Lucas Sinclair.
As he continued to film for Stranger Things, you might’ve caught him as young Ricky Bell in The New Edition Story.
McLaughlin has already won a Screen Actors Guild Award and an NAACP Image Award.
John David Washington
No one on this list, not even O’Shea Jackson Jr., has a dad as famous as John David Washington.
He is the son of the epitome of fine acting, Denzel Washington.
John David Washington was originally a football player before he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.
While he had a few small roles while he was younger, he didn’t begin focusing on acting until 2015.
His first major role was on the television series Ballers.
Since then, he has acted in films like BlacKkKlansman and Tenet.
His performance in the former film earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.
Just making the cut, Lance Gross is sitting on this list at 39 years old.
He has been acting since 2006 with his first big role coming in 2007 when he began starring in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne as Calvin Payne.
He has since appeared in other TV series such as Sleepy Hollow, Star, and MacGuyver.
While most of his work has been on television, some of his film roles include Tyler Perry’s Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.
Jacob Latimore is another actor who got his acting start very young.
Just 24 years old, he began his music career in 2005 at the age of 9.
He would then turn over to acting in 2009 where he appeared in an episode of One Tree Hill.
He has since been in films that include Black Nativity, The Maze Runner, and Detroit.
Most recently, you might recognize him from his star role in the series The Chi.
In 2015, Shameik Moore became a breakout actor in the film Dope.
The role earned him a Critics’ Choice nomination for Best Young Performer.
Since then, he has appeared in other films and even done voice acting.
After Dope, his most notable role was in the Netflix original The Get Down where he played Shaolin Fantastic from 2016 to 2017.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
If you think O’Shea Jackson Jr. looks like someone famous, it’s because he does.
He’s the son of rapper Ice Cube.
Jackson Jr.’s first major role came in 2015 where he acted in the film Straight Outta Compton where he portrayed a younger version of his father.
Since then, he has acted in Ingrid Goes West, and in the biographical drama Just Mercy alongside Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.
Let’s keep it in line with Straight Outta Compton, shall we?
Aldis Hodge is another actor that appeared in the film as MC Ren.
The actor has been in a ton of other TV and film roles since 1997.
His first role was in the sitcom Between Brothers before appearing in other series like NYPD Blue, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and CSI.
Since then he has earned roles in series like Leverage where he was on the main cast from 2008 to 2012.
His list of films include Hidden Figures, A Good Day to Die Hard, and One Night in Miami, the latter which is set to release at the end of 2020.
Our list of Straight Outta Compton actors continues with Corey Hawkins.
Hawkins studies at the Juilliard School where he got a degree in Fine Arts.
The actor has done theater, television, and film work.
Some of his first roles were in the TV series Royal Pains and Golden Boy.
He also had a recurring role on The Walking Dead from 2015 to 2016.
He’s mostly recognized for his role as Dr. Dre in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, and has since appeared in films like BlacKkKlansmen.
If you’re a fan of Insecure, you know who Jay Ellis is.
His career began in 2005, but his first few roles were in short films starting in 2010.
Most of his work can be seen on the TV screen, though.
You might recognize him from roles in Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, or How I Met Your Mother.
More notably, he was a main cast member on The Game from 2013 to 2015.
You can now see him on the HBO series Insecure as Lawrence Walker.
After graduating with a degree in African Studies from Temple University, Jesse Williams began studying acting.
Some of his first roles were on TV in Law & Order and Beyond the Break.
After appearing in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, he got his first major role in Grey’s Anatomy, a series he has appeared on since 2009.
Since then, he has appeared in other series including Power and the Hulu original series Little Fires Everywhere.
Damon Wayans Jr.
Damon Wayans Jr. comes from a famous family.
He has a lot of people to look up to.
There’s his father, Damon Wayans, and there’s also his uncles, Keenan, Shawn, and Marlon.
His first acting role was in the 1994 film Blankman before he moved on to other films and TV shows.
He appeared in his father’s show, My Wife and Kids, as the character John.
More notably, he has appeared in series like New Girl and Happy Endings.
His most recent film roles include Super Troopers 2 and Love, Guaranteed.
Tristan “Mack” Wilds is another actor who started his career at a young age.
His first role was on the series Miracle’s Boys before his breakout role in The Wire.
Since then, the actor has been seen on 90210 and The Breaks.
You might even remember him in music videos for Alicia Keys or Jay-Z.
The actor has been nominated for numerous Teen Choice Awards for his role as Dixon Wilson in 90210.
Brian Tyree Henry
After attending Morehouse College and Yale University, Brian Tyree Henry began his career in 2007.
Acting for 9 years, he wouldn’t experience his breakthrough until 2016.
Prior to this, the actor was found in series like Law & Order, The Good Wife, and Boardwalk Empire.
Henry’s first major role came in the form of the TV series Atlanta.
Since then, he has been found in series like How to Get Away with Murder and This Is Us.
Kendrick Sampson began his career in 2005.
The actor first appeared in the film Resurrection: The J.R. Richard Story.
Since then, he appeared in a number of short films while mainly focusing on television roles.
Sampson can be seen with recurring roles in How to Get Away with Murder and Insecure.
He has also had smaller roles in Greek, The Vampire Diaries, and The Flash.
Evan Ross is no stranger to the entertainment world.
What else do you expect from the son of Diana Ross?
While he first appeared in the television movie Shelly Fisher in 1999, his first big role was in the 2006 film ATL.
When it comes to television roles, the actor has appeared in All of Us and we as Girlfriends, 90210, and Star.
You can find him in the upcoming 2021 film The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
While most of the names on this list are American males, Daniel Kaluuya is our first British actor.
His career began in 2006 with film roles in Shoot the Messenger and Chatroom.
He also appeared in the popular UK TV series Skins from 2007 to 2009.
Kaluuya’s breakthrough came in 2017 when he starred as Chris Washington in the Jordan Peele horror film Get Out.
His roles would keep coming through as the years went on.
He has since appeared in Black Panther and Queen & Slim.
The actor has won numerous awards including a British Academy Film Award and NAACP Image Award.
Robert Ri’chard is one of the earlier actors on this list.
Having started his career in 1993 at the age of 10, the actor’s first television role was in the show Where I Live.
Since then, he has had a few other appearances on shows like Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and The Jamie Foxx Show.
Ri’chard is most commonly recognized for his role in the TV series One on One alongside Kyla Pratt and Flex Alexander.
Many also remember him from the Nickelodeon sitcom Cousin Skeeter.
At the young age of 23, Jharrel Jerome is already a decorated actor.
Hailing from New York City, the actor began his career in 2016.
While he appeared in a few short films, his first major role was in the 2016 film Moonlight, a film which he starred in alongside Trevante Rhodes.
The entire film was praised, but Jerome would receive his own personal accolades with the 2019 Netflix miniseries When They See Us.
Jerome played Korey Wise, and his portrayal would earn him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, and NAACP Image Award, and a Critic’s Choice Award.
Trevor Jackson is another actor on this list who began his career at a young age.
In 2004, at the age of eight, he landed the role of Simba on the national tour of The Lion King musical.
He would later appear in TV series like Cold Case and Eureka.
The role that he is most commonly recognized for is the character of Aaron in the series Grown-ish.
The actor also appeared in the 2018 film Superfly as Youngblood Priest.
Brandon P Bell
After playing soccer for years, Brandon P. Bell went to the University of Southern California on a drama scholarship.
The first role he landed was in Hollywood Heights, the Nick at Nite drama based on a Mexican telenovela.
While he didn’t get much recognition from the series, his career began to take off after he appeared in the film version of Dear White People in 2014.
During this time, Bell was still earning smaller roles in series like 90210 and Sons of Anarchy.
His next big role would come when Netflix decided to adapt Dear White People into a series where he reprised his role as Troy Fairbanks.
Jordan Calloway began his career at the young age of 10.
One of his very first roles was on The Parkers.
The actor would then receive his first regular role on the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous.
Calloway can also be seen in recurring roles on ER, Beyond, and Riverdale.
Most recently, the actor starred in the drama series Black Lightning.
While he had a recurring role in the first season, he has since been moved up to a main role for season 2.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s career began in 2013, but before then the actor was honing his skills as a musician with his voice, the piano, and trumpet being his chosen instruments.
His first acting role was in the 2013 film 12 Years a Slave.
His breakout role is considered to be the 2017 film It Comes at Night.
Since then the actor has been in the films Luce, Waves, and more.
Elijah Kelley’s career began in 1998 with a TV role in the film Mama Flora’s Family.
He then appeared in the films 28 Days and Take the Lead.
Also known to be a singer and dancer, he appeared in the film Hairspray as well as NBC’s live-musical of The Wiz Live! And The New Edition Story.
He has since appeared in Star and he reprised his role as Ricky Bell in the BET miniseries The Bobby Brown Story.
Most people recognize Chris Warren from High School Musical, but he was acting long before that.
Prior to that, he appeared in movies like Love & Basketball and Men of Honor.
While he appeared in all three High School Musical films, the actor would go on to appear in TV shows like The Hard Times of RJ Berger and Grand Hotel.
He’s had numerous guest appearances in TV The Bold and the Beautiful, The Bernie Mac Show, and The Fosters.
Keith Powers began his career in 2009, but his first role came in 2013.
While he has acted in films like Straight Outta Compton and The New Edition Story, most of his work is on TV.
After having a recurring role in the MTV series Faking It, he earned a main role in the Freeform drama Famous In Love.
His next role will be in the film The Tomorrow War set for release in 2021.
Tyler James Williams
Tyler James Williams has a very recognizable face, and that’s probably because we all remember him from Everybody Hates Chris.
His first role was at the age of four where he voiced the character Bobby on Little Bill.
He would then appear on Sesame Street from 2000 to 2005.
His career took off when he starred as Chris in Everybody Hates Chris.
Since then, he has acted in Go On and The Walking Dead.
Charles Michael Davis
While Charles Michael Davis has appeared in a few short films, his career is centered on television.
One of his first roles was in 2005 on the series That’s So Raven.
He would then gain recurring roles on Switched at Birth, The Game, and Grey’s Anatomy.
His first main role was on the CW series The Originals, a spin-off off of the popular show The Vampire Diaries.
Davis currently stars as a series regular on NCIS: New Orleans.
Leslie Odom Jr. is joined on this list by his Hamilton co-star, Daveed Diggs.
Prior to Hamilton, Diggs had a few roles.
He was both a writer and performer for a song featured in the film Zootopia.
In the mid 2010s, the actor also appeared in The Get Down and Black-ish in recurring roles.
He currently has lead roles in Snowpiercer, Central Park, and The Good Lord Bird.
Lastly, he has a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Hamilton.
Another Englishmen on this list, Alfred Enoch’s career began in 2001 at the age of 13.
He was cast as the character in the Harry Potter film franchise and appeared in 7 out of the 8 films.
Following the films, he would appear in a number of theater performances.
The actor also appeared in an episode of Sherlock before he landed the role of Wes Gibbins in the Shonda Rhimes drama, How to Get Away with Murder.
Since then, he starred in the TV miniseries Troy: Fall of a City and Trust Me.
Kofi Siriboe’s career began when he was nine years old and was cast in the short film, Strange & Charmed.
The actor would then have small roles in films like The Longshots and Prom as well as TV shows Lincoln Heights and CSI.
Siriboe’s first break came with a recurring role on the MTV series Awkward.
His most recent and notable role is on the OWN series Queen Sugar as Ralph Angel Bordelon, a series that earned him numerous NAACP Image Award and Black Reel Award nominations.
The last Englishmen on this list, Daniel Ezra began showing an interest in acting when he turned 18 years old.
In 2014 he appeared in the TV film Murdered by My Boyfriend.
He would have a number of roles in British TV before landing the role of Spencer James in the CW series All American.
Although he is only 26, Jordan Fisher has had a very successful career.
He has appeared on TV series like iCarly, The Secret Life of the American Teenage, and Teen Wolf.
With an affinity for singing, he was also cast in Fox’s Rent: Live.
He is also known for his theater work where he played John Laurens in Hamilton and also Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen.
Young Black Male Actors Under 40 Conclusion
While Hollywood still isn’t as inclusive as it should be, these men are pushing their way into well-deserved roles.
Some have already made their stamp in the entertainment industry with awards and accolades and others are just getting started.
Regardless, we’re excited to see these young Black male actors win.
And now that we’ve given love to the men, show some love to the beautiful, Black female celebrities that we all love.