Actors Who Dared to Play a Slave

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

LeVar Burton in Roots (1977)

The audition to play Kunta Kinte in this groundbreaking television series was Burton's first. He not only nailed the part, he earned an Emmy nomination for it. "[Roots] expanded the consciousness of people," Burton said years later of the seminal series. "Blacks and whites began to see each other as human beings, not as stereotypes."

(Photo: Courtesy PBS)

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