Five Easily Recognizable Black Character Actors
A character actor is an actor who routinely portrays unusual or eccentric roles.
They are often typecast into playing specific types of roles, regardless of how unusual or eccentric the part.
Some character actors cross over and become lead actors and actresses, but for the most part, they remain in the background.
It is a common notion that black actors are sorely overlooked in Hollywood, but some of the most enduring black actors are the character actors who are, in a way, meant to be "overlooked."
Even though they are not the stars of the show, they are still forever ingrained in the minds and hearts of film and television lovers everywhere.
These black actors may not have the "star power" of Denzel Washington, Will Smith, or Jamie Foxx, but they are almost as easily recognizable - even if many of us do not know their names.
If you have ever seen this black actor before, you know that his name, “Tiny” is a comedic play on words - and because he is anything but tiny, he is usually seen playing the big, bad, ogre or bodyguard role.
Most audiences know him as “Deebo” from Ice Cube’s Friday (1995) or as “XL” in The Player’s Club (1998), alongside Bernie Mac and Jamie Foxx.
Michael Beach is known mostly for playing a jerk with a penchant for having a roving eye and a cheating heart, in films and television.
His most easily recognizable role is as “Jeanie Boulet’s” HIV carrying, cheating husband on ER (1994 - 2009) - remember him, the firefighter; he was the one who gave her HIV. You might also remember him as as “Teri’s” husband who cheats on her with her baby cousin in the film Soul Food (1997).
Richard T. Jones
Another “jerk” of sorts - Richard T. Jones often portrays either a standoffish type of dude, or a full-blown jerk.
Most of us became acquainted with Jones as the somewhat cold and uncaring “Bruce Van Exel” from TVs Judging Amy (1995 - 2005), or the total cad, “Mike”, from Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married (2007) and Why Did I Get Married Too (2010).
It's a shame, but no one really cared that his character was ill in Why Did I Get Married Too (2010).
Rough, tough, big and burly are the four best adjectives to describe black actor, Ving Rhames, and the type of roles he portrays.
He is pretty-much a beefcake sort of guy, if you have ever seen the full cut of his muscular physique in the film Baby Boy (2001), you will be well familiar with what I am describing.
Although he ventured far out of his usual element to play a rather convincing drag queen in Holiday Heart (2000), his comfort zone is in “men of action” roles alongside Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible film franchise, and as the title character in the USA Network’s 2005 re-imagining of Kojak.
Scatman Crothers (May 23, 1910 – November 22, 1986)
In case you didn't know it, the black actor in the lead photo of this hub is Scatman Crothers.
Scatman Crothers had a distinctive, gravelly voice and a kind face. In his later years, Hollywood studios capitalized on those traits, so he usually played the kindly old man role, and he had a comedic side as well.
One standout role that always reminds me of him, is Halloran, the telepathic chef alongside Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duval in Stanley Kubrick’s, The Shining (1980).
Also, some folks will remember him in his role as the magical old man in film, Twilight Zone - The Movie (1983); Kick the Can is the name of the segment.
Before Scatman Crothers actually became an old man, he enjoyed a film and television career that spanned almost 40 years. In his early days, as there were not many other black actors, he was utilized wherever the role called for a black man.
Many people probably do not know his name, but if you have ever seen The Shining (1980), you will easily recognize his face.