The BET 100 Entertainers And Innovators Of The Year | The Actors

See who superseded our expectations.

BET 100 | The Actors  - With movie theaters, restaurants, and bars shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, home entertainment became more important than ever. Our favorite actors and actresses provided a much-needed escape. However, this year, their impact went beyond amazing work on screen. They broke records, pushed for equality, and inspired us to do better. We pay homage to these greats who not only go the extra mile to entertain us, but to also propel us forward.— Written by Laura J. Downey  Plus, don't forget to check back each day this week to find out who else we've added to the BET 100 list...we're just getting started. BET Digital Design/Getty

1 / 11

BET 100 | The Actors  - With movie theaters, restaurants, and bars shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, home entertainment became more important than ever. Our favorite actors and actresses provided a much-needed escape. However, this year, their impact went beyond amazing work on screen. They broke records, pushed for equality, and inspired us to do better. We pay homage to these greats who not only go the extra mile to entertain us, but to also propel us forward.— Written by Laura J. Downey  Plus, don't forget to check back each day this week to find out who else we've added to the BET 100 list...we're just getting started. BET Digital Design/Getty

Michael Rainey Jr. - He’s the kid we love to hate. Rainey, 20, portrayed Tariq St. Patrick in the popular Starz series Power. But when the final season revealed Tariq murdered his nightclub owner, drug-dealing dad Ghost, fans weren’t sure whether to tune into the Power Book II: Ghost sequel, or to boycott it. Surprisingly, when the sequel’s first episode garnered more than 7.5 million views in its first week, Rainey proved to fans he has the prowess, potential, and power to carry his own show, even in the middle of a pandemic. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)

2 / 11

Michael Rainey Jr. - He’s the kid we love to hate. Rainey, 20, portrayed Tariq St. Patrick in the popular Starz series Power. But when the final season revealed Tariq murdered his nightclub owner, drug-dealing dad Ghost, fans weren’t sure whether to tune into the Power Book II: Ghost sequel, or to boycott it. Surprisingly, when the sequel’s first episode garnered more than 7.5 million views in its first week, Rainey proved to fans he has the prowess, potential, and power to carry his own show, even in the middle of a pandemic. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)

Nicco Annan - It’s hard not to love Uncle Clifford, the fabulous and fierce non-binary owner of Pynk – the strip club at the center of Starz’s P-Valley. Annan does a phenomenal job breathing life into this character, a role he has been perfecting since assuming the role in the stage production of Pussy Valley more than a decade ago. As a 6’2” gay Black man in America, he’s a barrier breaker, inspiring fans to be brave and unapologetically themselves. (Photo by Leon Bennett/STA 2020/Getty Images for BET)

3 / 11

Nicco Annan - It’s hard not to love Uncle Clifford, the fabulous and fierce non-binary owner of Pynk – the strip club at the center of Starz’s P-Valley. Annan does a phenomenal job breathing life into this character, a role he has been perfecting since assuming the role in the stage production of Pussy Valley more than a decade ago. As a 6’2” gay Black man in America, he’s a barrier breaker, inspiring fans to be brave and unapologetically themselves. (Photo by Leon Bennett/STA 2020/Getty Images for BET)

Cicely Tyson - After immortalizing countless iconic characters —including Rebecca in Sounder, Binta in Roots and the title role in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman — throughout seven decades in the business, Tyson shows no signs of slowing down. In this year alone, at age 95, she was cast in Cherish the Day, an eight-episode OWN anthology series created by Ava DuVernay, was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, and received the Peabody Career Achievement Award for paving the way for women of color in the entertainment industry, and beyond. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

4 / 11

Cicely Tyson - After immortalizing countless iconic characters —including Rebecca in Sounder, Binta in Roots and the title role in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman — throughout seven decades in the business, Tyson shows no signs of slowing down. In this year alone, at age 95, she was cast in Cherish the Day, an eight-episode OWN anthology series created by Ava DuVernay, was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, and received the Peabody Career Achievement Award for paving the way for women of color in the entertainment industry, and beyond. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Lena Waithe - Three years after becoming the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, Lena Waithe, 36, continues to make history. Her semi-autobiographical series, Twenties, on BET, is the first primetime show about a "masculine of center" Black woman. She is undeniably one of the most prolific creator-producers in Hollywood, giving us critically-acclaimed work such as The Chi, Queen & Slim, and Boomerang, that connect us to characters of color with unflinching honesty and realness. Waithe told The Hollywood Reporter, "My mission is to provide a space for people to grow,, while making work that people can look at and say, 'That broke a barrier.' " (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

5 / 11

Lena Waithe - Three years after becoming the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, Lena Waithe, 36, continues to make history. Her semi-autobiographical series, Twenties, on BET, is the first primetime show about a "masculine of center" Black woman. She is undeniably one of the most prolific creator-producers in Hollywood, giving us critically-acclaimed work such as The Chi, Queen & Slim, and Boomerang, that connect us to characters of color with unflinching honesty and realness. Waithe told The Hollywood Reporter, "My mission is to provide a space for people to grow,, while making work that people can look at and say, 'That broke a barrier.' " (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

Michael Ward - He’s only been in the biz two years, but in that time, Ward, 25, has proven his star power. After a brief modeling career, he landed the lead role in the Drake-produced reboot of Top Boy, playing a young and desperate gang leader. He also starred in the big screen crime drama Blue Story. The two acting credits easily earned him the EE Rising Star Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Next up: he stars in the Amazon anthology series Small Axe by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen. This kid is definitely one to watch. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

6 / 11

Michael Ward - He’s only been in the biz two years, but in that time, Ward, 25, has proven his star power. After a brief modeling career, he landed the lead role in the Drake-produced reboot of Top Boy, playing a young and desperate gang leader. He also starred in the big screen crime drama Blue Story. The two acting credits easily earned him the EE Rising Star Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Next up: he stars in the Amazon anthology series Small Axe by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen. This kid is definitely one to watch. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

John David Washington - When you’re the son of Denzel Washington, it’s inevitable that people will compare your acting skills to those of your father. Fortunately, John David, 36, doesn’t disappoint. The former football pro starred in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller, Tenet, the first major movie to be released during the pandemic. The film grossed $300 million worldwide, cementing Washington’s status as a huge star, in his own right. (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

7 / 11

John David Washington - When you’re the son of Denzel Washington, it’s inevitable that people will compare your acting skills to those of your father. Fortunately, John David, 36, doesn’t disappoint. The former football pro starred in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller, Tenet, the first major movie to be released during the pandemic. The film grossed $300 million worldwide, cementing Washington’s status as a huge star, in his own right. (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Jurnee Smollett - Smollett’s character Leti in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, one of the hottest shows of the year, battles everything from beasts to bigotry. It’s a running theme for the 33-year-old actress this year, with her Black Canary role in Birds of Prey also fighting for justice. And Smollett’s life is definitely imitating her art. In the past year, she’s championed the Black Lives Matter movement (check out her Instagram page) and the importance of mental health. She also spoke out in support of her brother, Jussie Smollett. We salute her for taking a stand both on and off screen. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

8 / 11

Jurnee Smollett - Smollett’s character Leti in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, one of the hottest shows of the year, battles everything from beasts to bigotry. It’s a running theme for the 33-year-old actress this year, with her Black Canary role in Birds of Prey also fighting for justice. And Smollett’s life is definitely imitating her art. In the past year, she’s championed the Black Lives Matter movement (check out her Instagram page) and the importance of mental health. She also spoke out in support of her brother, Jussie Smollett. We salute her for taking a stand both on and off screen. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Issa Rae - Issa Rae, 35, gives us life in every way imaginable. The fourth season of HBO’s Insecure kept us on the edge of our seats wondering if Issa and Lawrence would make it. This year, she made the leap to leading lady on the big screen too. When The Photograph came out on Valentine’s Day, we rushed to see our girl in this romantic drama, which she followed up with The Lovebirds—a film she also executive produced. Just like she is “rooting for everybody Black,” we are most definitely rooting for her. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

9 / 11

Issa Rae - Issa Rae, 35, gives us life in every way imaginable. The fourth season of HBO’s Insecure kept us on the edge of our seats wondering if Issa and Lawrence would make it. This year, she made the leap to leading lady on the big screen too. When The Photograph came out on Valentine’s Day, we rushed to see our girl in this romantic drama, which she followed up with The Lovebirds—a film she also executive produced. Just like she is “rooting for everybody Black,” we are most definitely rooting for her. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Sterling K. Brown - Brown made Emmy Award history this year after being nominated as Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series for NBC’s This Is Us and for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video. No other series regular had ever been nominated in the same year for both. The significance isn’t lost on the 44-year-old actor. "The history that Black folks have as performers in the industry is a very specific one…dating back to Birth of a Nation, where we're not even allowed to play ourselves…[and are] grossly mischaracterized and made to look buffoonish by White people," he told NPR. "It's taken a long time to be fully recognized as human in front of the camera and in life." (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

10 / 11

Sterling K. Brown - Brown made Emmy Award history this year after being nominated as Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series for NBC’s This Is Us and for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video. No other series regular had ever been nominated in the same year for both. The significance isn’t lost on the 44-year-old actor. "The history that Black folks have as performers in the industry is a very specific one…dating back to Birth of a Nation, where we're not even allowed to play ourselves…[and are] grossly mischaracterized and made to look buffoonish by White people," he told NPR. "It's taken a long time to be fully recognized as human in front of the camera and in life." (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Zendaya - The 24-year-old actress starred in the most controversial hit of the year—HBO’s Euphoria, whose sex-obsessed, drug-addled teens panicked parents across the country. It was Zendaya’s biggest departure from her Disney roots to date, and the role solidified her status as a lead actress. She beat out seasoned pros such as Jennifer Aniston and Laura Linney to nab the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series award at the Emmys, becoming the youngest woman to ever win that category. She is truly next level. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)

11 / 11

Zendaya - The 24-year-old actress starred in the most controversial hit of the year—HBO’s Euphoria, whose sex-obsessed, drug-addled teens panicked parents across the country. It was Zendaya’s biggest departure from her Disney roots to date, and the role solidified her status as a lead actress. She beat out seasoned pros such as Jennifer Aniston and Laura Linney to nab the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series award at the Emmys, becoming the youngest woman to ever win that category. She is truly next level. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)