1. Denzel Washington (Melvin B. Tolson)
Two-time Academy Award®-winning actor Denzel Washington is known for his commanding film presence and his ability to play varied and complex roles. From his performance as an embittered runaway slave in Glory, to the womanizing trumpet player, Bleek Gilliam in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues, Washington has amazed and entertained us with a rich array of characters distinctly his own.
One of his most critically acclaimed performances to date is his Academy-Award winning performance in Training Day, directed by Antoine Fuqua. He is currently starring alongside Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's American Gangster.
Other films include, The Inside Man, Remember the Titans and Philadelphia.
2. Forest Whitaker (James Farmer Sr.)
Forest Whitaker is one of Hollywood's most accomplished actors/directors/producers who has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles. In 2007, Forest won the Academy Award® for best actor for his performance as Uganda dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. A part for which he also received the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA Awards.
Some of Forest's other films include Panic Room and Phone Booth. Equally impressive are Whitaker's television credits. Forest received critical acclaim for his performance on The Shield. He also earned an Emmy nomination for his work on ER.
3. Nate Parker (Henry Lowe)
Nate Parker is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, who has gone on to pursue a career in acting. He most recently wrapped Tunnel Rats. The film takes place during the Vietnam War and focuses on a special U.S. combat unit that hunted Viet Cong in the endless tunnels under the jungles of Vietnam.
Nate has also starred in Pride, Dirty Cruel World, and the title role of Rome in the independent feature Rome & Jewel. His television appearances include the parts on Cold Case and The Unit.
4. Jurnee Smollett (Samantha Booke)
Jurnee Smollett has been performing since she was 4 years old. Since then, she has co-starred in Gridiron Gang, and the 1970s coming-of-age dramedy Roll Bounce with Bow Wow and Nick Cannon.
Jurnee was featured last season in a guest-starring role on the award-winning hit series, House. She has also starred in ER, Strong Medicine and NYPD Blue.
5. Denzel Whitaker (James Farmer Jr.)
Denzel Whitaker got his first start in commercials before landing a small part in Training Day, a movie that brought him face-to-face with his future director, Denzel Washington, who went on to win the Academy Award® for best actor for his role in the movie.
He has since appeared on One on One, and played recurring roles in All That and The War at Home. Other television credits include appearances on such hit shows as ER and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
6. Kimberly Elise (Pearl Farmer)
Kimberly Elise has garnered notable critical acclaim for her roles in such feature films as The Manchurian Candidate and Diary of a Mad Black Woman.
Other films include Set It Off, John Q and The Ditchdigger's Daughters. Her performance in Beloved, opposite Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover, garnered her several awards, including The Chicago Film Critic's Most Promising Actress Award, an NAACP Image Award nomination, as well as the Best Supporting Actress Golden Satellite Award.