Black talent is thriving like never before, especially in the increasingly-open world of Hollywood, where black actors are showing an incredible range of skills at a young age. The numerous black actors under 30 dominating today’s film and television industry are a testament to how far the community has come in embracing and shining a light on diverse narratives.
But who are the top black actors under 30 working today? While you might be able to name some off the top of your head, there are likely quite a few names you’re missing. This article will help you by diving into today’s talented black actors who are flourishing beyond their wildest hopes and dreams–and all under 30!
1. Keke Palmer
Starting off her childhood career in films like Akeelah and the Bee and television series like True Jackson, VP, the world has watched as Keke Palmer climbed to the top of the Hollywood ladder. The vibrant and endearing actress is undoubtedly a rare talent, with several award nominations and a Primetime Emmy win for her performance in Turnt Up With the Taylors.
Her most recent buzz comes from her role in Jordan Peele’s Nope, a horror film where she stars alongside the talented Daniel Kaluuya. With her massive award buzz and numerous high-grossing films, Palmer is easily one of the biggest names to watch out for in upcoming years–and she’s only 29.
2. Stephan James
A massive up-and-coming talent, Stephan James has given several noteworthy performances that land him on the list of the best black actors under 30. At 29 years old, James has already been nominated for numerous awards, including a Primetime Emmy for his role in #FreeRayshawn and a Black Reel Award for his performance in If Beale Street Could Talk.
Beyond his nominations, Stephan James won the best actor award at the 2019 American Film Award for his performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. With many acclaimed titles to his name, James is undeniably a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood, even at a young age.x
3. China Anne McClain
A major name among younger audiences, China Anne McClain, has been making her mark on Hollywood since she began working in the industry at seven. Most known for her performances in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and the Disney Channel series A.N.T. Farm, McClain has been nominated for–and sometimes won–awards from the Image Awards and NAMIC Vision Awards. At only 24 years old, there’s no doubt that we’ll see more from McClain in years to come–and personally, we can’t wait!
4. Jharrel Jerome
Making his mark in the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture Moonlight, Jharrel Jerome has seen no shortage of roles since his debut. Jerome brings a unique charisma to his roles, shining in whatever role he is given, whether big or small. Since Moonlight, Jerome has been nominated for and received various awards, including a Primetime Emmy win for his role in the limited series When They See Us.
Along with the massive Emmy win, Jharrel Jerome has found success at the following award shows:
- Critics Choice Awards
- AAFCA TV Honors
- Apolo Awards
- Gold Derby Awards
- Gotham Awards
- Screen Actors Guild Awards
With this rapidly growing list of awards and nominations, there’s little doubt that audiences will see plenty more of Jharrel Jerome in the future–especially considering that the actor is only 25 years old!
5. Amandla Stenberg
A hugely popular name–especially among modern audiences–is Amandla Stenberg. The actress, who identifies as nonbinary and uses she/they pronouns, is an advocate for equal rights and a hugely talented individual.
Getting her start in films like Colombiana and The Hunger Games, Stenberg has since made a name for herself and is one of the biggest rising stars today. Most recently, audiences have loved her performance in the 2022 comedy-horror Bodies Bodies Bodies and her powerful portrayal as Starr in The Hate U Give. On top of these roles, Stenberg has various awards and nominations, including recognition from the African-American Film Critics Association, the BET Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Hollywood Film Awards.
While it might sound like a lifetime of accomplishments, Stenberg is only 24 years old–meaning that there’s a promise for even more stellar performances to come in the future.
6. Asante Blackk
Born Asante Duah Ma’at, this 21-year-old actor has already impacted the film and television industry. Known for his stellar performance alongside Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us and his breathtaking role as Malik in the series This is Us, Blackk is a delight to watch on screen and stands out among young talent.
As one of the best black actors under 30, Asante already has numerous award nominations on his side, showing the extent of his talent. Given his young age–even compared to other names on this list–there’s no doubt in the minds of fans that Blackk will continue to flourish in any roles he accepts down the line.
7. Letitia Wright
Known for her powerful portrayal of Shuri in Black Panther, Letitia Wright is one of the top names to watch out for young black talent. The 29-year-old actress has made her mark on the big and small screen, from roles in major blockbuster films to supporting appearances in hit television shows like Black Mirror.
Letitia’s devotion to her art comes through in her performances, making her a delight to watch on screen and a powerhouse to watch out for in upcoming years. With Primetime Emmy and BAFTA nominations to her name, fans can’t wait to see more of what Wright has to offer in future projects.
8. Micheal Ward
Closing off our list of the top black actors under 30 is the talented 25-year-old Micheal Ward, who made his initial acting debut in Blue Story. With two BAFTA nominations to his name and as the BAFTA EE Rising Star Award winner, fans love the new, exciting material that Ward brings to the table. His powerful performances are hard to come by, especially at such a young age–but the actor doesn’t let that deter him from delivering powerful performances repeatedly.
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