10 Prominent Black Actors and Actresses Who Attended HBCUs

We see many Black actors and actresses who inspire us to chase our dreams on the big screen and TV screens every day. Some of them benefited from valuable education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

HBCUs have been an integral launchpad to the success of many Black actors and actresses, and we’re so glad they’ve put these institutions on the map. Here are 10 prominent Black actors and actresses who attended HBCUs.

Check out if one of your faves made the list below:

Phylicia Rashad

We know her, love her, and she is a legend. Phylicia Rashad is best known for her role as Clair Huxtable in “The Cosby Show.” She also made history as the first black actress to win the Tony Award for “Best Actress in a Play” for her role as Lena Younger in the revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” (2004). Rashad graduated magna cum laude from Howard University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She is still making appearances in popular movies and shows such as “Creed,” “Creed II,” “A Fall from Grace,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Kenan Wayans

Kenan is the oldest of the successful and hilariously talented Wayans family. He went to Tuskegee University and left the school to pursue comedy one semester before graduating. His fame began as the host and creator of “In Living Color,” a popular sketch comedy series in the early ’90s. He also made history with the film “Scary Movie.” It became the highest-grossing movie directed by an African American from 2000 to 2005.

Wendy Raquel Robinson

Robinson graduated cum laude from Howard University and made her acting debut in 1993 on an episode of “Martin.” The feature catapulted her career and secured her most famous roles of Regina “Piggy” Grier on “The Steve Harvey Show” and Tasha Mack in “The Game.”

Robinson is also the co-founder of the Amazing Grace Conservatory. The school, founded in 1997, predominantly serves children from ages 5 to 18. The school offers arts and media production classes for the youth who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. It is still open today.

Wanda Sykes

Sykes is one of America’s favorite comedians. She graduated from Hampton University with a marketing degree. She went on to work for the National Security Agency (NSA) before leaving to pursue her titles of actress, comedian, and writer. She won a Primetime Emmy Award for her work as a writer on” The Chris Rock Show” in 1999. Later, Entertainment Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America in 2004. You can see her latest appearances on ABC’s “Black-ish” and “The Upshaws” on Netflix.

Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey is most known for her philanthropic work before, during, and after “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” but held countless roles in films and shows like “The Color Purple,” “The Butler,” and “Saturday Night Live.”

Winfrey attended Tennessee State University and studied communications. After winning an oratory contest on her high school speech team, she received a full scholarship. No surprise there!

Esther Rolle

We had to take it back with this one. Rolle was best known for her role as Florida Evans in “Good Times.” She received her education at Spelman College before moving to New York to start her career. Despite the more blatant racial tensions in the ’60s and ’70s, she followed her passions and was cast in many plays, leading to her becoming the co-star of “Good Times” at age 54. A testament to the fact that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Garrett Morris

Morris is one of those staple icons that can fit in almost any setting of entertainment. Morris graduated from Dillard University in 1958 and received his breakthrough as one of the original cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” His resume of shows and films includes popular shows like “The Jeffersons,” “Martin,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” and “2 Broke Girls.”

J.B. Smoove

His full name is Jerry Angelo Brooks, but he decided to shorten it, likely because he’s smooth like that. Before pursuing his career as an actor, comedian, and writer, Smoove attended Norfolk State University and worked as a perfume formulator and fire-extinguisher salesman (talk about odd jobs). His comedic versatility landed him a slew of roles in various entertainment projects, including “Def Comedy Jam,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Kym Whitley

You may not remember where you first saw Whitley, but she amplified every character she’s played. Whitley attended Fisk University and has made countless appearances in popular films and TVs shows like “Next Friday,” “The Parkers,” “The Boondocks,” and “My Wife and Kids,” to name a few. She won the BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Box Office Movie for her role as Ormandy in the 2003 comedy film “Deliver Us From Eva.”

Taraji P. Henson

This talented actress attended Howard University and landed her breakthrough role in the film “Baby Boy” in 2001. We’ve seen her in many more movies since then, and she’s won various awards like Best Ensemble (“Hidden Figures”), Best Actress (“Hustle & Flow” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), and Best Actress in a Drama Series (“Empire”).