Actors Who Dared to Play a Slave

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  • Halle Berry
  • Denzel Washington
  • Oyafunmike Ogunlano
  • S. Epatha Merkerson
  • Hattie McDaniel
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • LeVar Burton
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Kerry Washington
  • Lisa Gay Hamilton

Hattie McDaniel in Gone With the Wind (1939)

Known as a comic actress, McDaniel beat out tough competition to play the role of opinionated house slave Mammy in this classic epic drama. Though the film makes contemporary audiences bristle at the racial epithets and themes, it did land McDaniel a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the first ever for a Black woman.

(Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

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