20 legendary Black science fiction actors who rocked the genre

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In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of the greatest Black actors in the science fiction genre. Here’s 20 that have made big waves in TV and film.

Science fiction is all about believing what seems, at first, to be impossible. All of the hallmarks of the genre, from faster-than-light travel to contact with alien species, is just at the edge of our abilities. But sci-fi allows us to dream about those realities, to create worlds in which we can achieve those dreams and more.

While those experiences may seem utterly fictional now, the hopes and drive encouraged by science fiction works have pushed for real-world changes. It follows that the people who are involved in creating sci-fi are also pretty important. They may not be flying to Mars or inventing smartphones as a group, but people like actors can have a very real impact on people who are watching.

That’s a huge part of why diversity in this genre is vital. It’s not simply a PC buzzword or a game of identity politics. Seeing something of yourself or your community reflected on the screen can have long-lasting and deeply positive impacts.

In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of the most outstanding Black actors to make their mark on the science fiction genre. Historically speaking, we’re sorry to say that people of color have often been excluded from the sci-fi picture. While things aren’t perfectly equitable now, they’ve been getting a lot better. Today, you are more likely to see Black actors take a variety of leading roles, from villains, to heroes, to everyone in between.

While this list is published during Black History Month, don’t restrict your appreciation of these artists and their work to a single month. Think of this more as a jumping-off point for more and more diversity in sci-fi and beyond. As you’ll see soon enough, it’s got some serious benefits for everyone involved.