British entertainment has a unique charm about it. We love their stories, their talent, and their accents too. Whether it’s the original Office, Game of Thrones, Four Weddings and a Funeral, or even Downton Abbey, we can’t get enough of their content.
Thanks to globalization and streaming platforms, it is easier than ever to get to know newer faces. The trend that started with the supermodel Naomi Campbell continues even today.
Today, we have a tremendous pool of talent from diverse ethnic origins rocking the film and television sectors.
In this article, we shall explore 20 famous black British actresses from recent years.
Black British Actresses:
Let’s start with the diva who made a mark and won some of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment sector. The immensely talented and gorgeous Thandiwe Newton is best known for a few projects like The Pursuit of Happyness, 2012, and Mission Impossible: 2. The role that earned her the most accolades is “Maeve Millay” from the U.S. TV series Westworld. She also appears in the BBC drama series Line of Duty. Her daughter, Nico Parker, is one of the newest talents to watch out for.
Letitia Wright was born in Guyana but moved to England with her family at 7 years of age. She has wanted to become an actor since she was a little kid. After acting in school’s productions of dramas and a few roles in British TV series, she landed her first critically appreciated movie, Urban Hymn. Around the same time, we started seeing a lot of her in Doctor Who and Humans. However, her most famous credits include Shuri from Black Panther and Nish from Black Mirror.
Tony award winner Sophie Okonedo has been winning our hearts with her performances for over three decades now. From theater to films to television to narration, she has left no stone unturned. You may know her from her role in the Secret Life of Bees, from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, or from the Broadway play, The Raisin in the Sun. She also starred in the multi-star movie Death on the Nile in the year 2019 alongside Gal Gadot.
Another black British actress who has made it big globally is Marsha Thomason. While the movie that put her on the map was Disney’s horror movie The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy, it’s her TV career that we know her for. She has a ton of guest and recurring role credits to her name. A few of her famous roles include that of Special Agent Diana Berrigan from White Collar, Nesa Holt from Las Vegas, and Naomi Dorrit from Lost.
Antonia Thomas is one of our favorite Good Doctors. If you’re fans of the medical drama series, Good Doctor, then you know why we adore Dr. Claire Brownen. She is a British actress and singer who got her breakthrough with the comedy-drama series Misfits. Her portrayal of Evie Douglas from the twisted rom-com Netflix series, Lovesick was again appreciated and loved by all. She also featured in one of Coldplay’s song videos- Charlie Brown.
As Martha Jones from Doctor Who, Freema Agyeman has etched deeply into our minds. She portrayed the companion of the 10th doctor in the series for four years. Freema is an English actress who has been nominated for several Soap awards and was also seen in Law & Order: UK. She has also been a narrator for radio and audio series and a BBC series. Again, if you’re a medical drama buff, then you may know her from the series New Amsterdam.
For Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans, this one’s a treat. Lashana Lynch is best known for essaying the role of Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau in the Captain Marvel movie. In alternative earth from the latest Dr.Strange movie, she was Captain Marvel. She showed off her brilliant action timing in the last Bond movie: No Time to Die where she played an MI6 agent alongside Daniel Craig. Still star-crossed and Bulletproof are two of her recent television credits that you may remember her from.
Michaela Cole is yet another stylish and talented black British actress on our list. She’s an actress, a director, and a screenwriter. She created and starred in a sitcom titled Chewing Gum which was her won her awards and lots of adulation. Her exemplary writing and acting work on the limited series ‘I may destroy you’ earned her an Emmy and a British Academy Television award. You may also notice her Star Wars: The Last Jedi and an upcoming movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The next one on our list is the UK-born actress, Jade Anouka. In July 2022, she presented us with her new play- Heart, with her heartfelt performance. It is based on her life and showcases her love journey into queerhood. Besides Heart, she has a long list of theater credits to her name and several stage awards. She has also been a part of the phenomenon that is Doctor Who. Her performance in Netflix’s series Turn Up Charlie is worth checking out.
Did you know that Susan Wokoma was on the 2017 Forbes list of ‘30 under 30’ in the entertainment category for Europe? As a young black woman, she wears many hats as an entertainer. She’s an actress, a writer, and a voice actress. She was born in the UK to Nigerian parents and came from humble beginnings. For her performance in the series Crazyhead, she won an award for the best-supporting actress. You may also remember her from the Enola Holmes movie.
Born to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother in London, Carmen is one of the most successful British singers and actresses. She has a long list of movie and series credits to her name including several accolades. For her portrayal of Selma, she won the best-supporting actress award from different organizations. You may remember her from the popular HBO series True Detective, wherein she plays Amelia Reardon, or from the famous ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movie series, wherein she plays Seraphina.
Zawe Ashton is a multitalented British writer and actress born in London to a Ugandan mother and a British father. She has acted in various acting media, including theatre, movies, and films. This year we saw her in the period drama movie- Mr. Malcom’s list. Next year she makes her debut in the MCU as a villain in The Marvels. Interestingly, she was also a part of the Doctor Who series. She is engaged to famous English actor Tom Hiddleston and is expecting a baby soon.
Naomi Ackie is yet another ex-Doctor Who actor. Naomi was born and raised in London. You may know her from her role as Jannah in the Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker movie. If you’re a fan of the ‘Master of None’ series on Netflix, then you may know her from season three. Her acting stint in the TV series The End of the F**king World won her the British Academy award for a supporting actress. Her exciting upcoming projects are worth looking forward to.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a British actress born to a South African father and a British mother. A trained theater actress, she portrayed the titular role of Nell Gwynn in the play. Gugu is known for playing the role of Belle in the eponymously titled movie. For the same movie, she won many accolades and established herself as an actress. Her TV credits include Doctor Who, Black Mirror, The Morning Show, and Loki to name a few. She is the goodwill ambassador for the UNHCR.
Naomie Harris has an OBE (Order of the British Empire) bestowed upon her by the British Royalty in 2017 for her contribution to drama. Naomie is a British actress best known for her portrayal of Ms.Moneypenny in Bond movies Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die. One of her famous credits includes the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. She’s lent her voice to video games too. For her role as Paula in Moonlight, she was nominated for almost all prestigious awards.