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Star Wars: 22 Black Actors Ranked from Worst to Best


Find out the greatest black characters in the history of the Star Wars movies. John Boyega just announced the end of filming Episode IX and it marks another milestone in the movies. The Star Wars movies are amazing and revolutionary. A cultural force that crosses generations and nationalities. They're beloved by millions and rightfully so.

But one of the things you notice most about the original Star Wars movies is that it shows the universe is populated by white people. Mostly British white people. When the Star Wars sequels were planned Disney there was a stated goal to diversify the actors. To show the universe as more of a melting pot. They've succeeded and the movies are more diverse and expansive than ever. But it's striking to notice how few black people populate the world of Star Wars. In honor of "Black History Month" I've compiled a list of every major black actor in the live-action Star Wars universe and ranked them from worst to best.

This list doesn't include every role played by an African-American. It only includes live-action roles where you can clearly tell a character is a black person. For example, even though Darth Vader is voiced by James Earl Jones he's clearly not black so he got cut. Likewise, Jabba's green slave girl Oola is played by black actress Femi Taylor but is not a black character. So she got dropped.

Likewise, I didn't include animated characters like Tam Ryvora from Star Wars: Resistance because, while the character is black, you can't really tell if it's voiced by a black person (it's a black woman named Suzie McGrath BTW). Also, I didn't try and include every single background character that may be black. I stuck with characters that have a reasonable amount of screen time.

So, from Jedi Masters to unnamed villagers, enjoy our ranking of every black character in the Star Wars universe.

22. Sasha Frost as "Jakku Villager"

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Sasha Frost - Jakku Villager
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Sasha Frost is a British actress who played an unnamed villager on Jakku in The Force Awakens. The 34-year old is known for movies like Eve and KickOff (2011). Frost filmed a scene during the battle on Jakku where she runs into FN-2187, but he lets her escape with her child. It's pretty powerful and the first indication that he's not cut out to be a cold-blooded killing machine.

Unfortunately, the scene is cut out of the theatrical version but appears in a deleted scene on home video. Presumably, she’s killed by the First Order troopers. She has no lines and her scene never made it to theaters. A shame really.

21. Danny Sapini as Medical Frigate Captain

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Danny Sapini  - Medical Frigate Captain 
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Danny Sapani plays an unnamed captain of the Resistance medical frigate Anodyne in The Last Jedi. The ship is helping to evacuate the base.

He's a British actor best known for playing Sembene in Penny Dreadful and Tony Morecombe in Misfits. Sapini also had supporting roles in Black Panther (2018), Trance (2013), and The Oxford Murders (2008). This is a waste of a spectacular actor.

20. Hannah John-Kamen as First Order Officer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Hannah John-Kamen - First Order Officer
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
In a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo, John-Kamen plays an unnamed First Order officer in The Force Awakens.

She is best known for the starring role of Dutch in the space adventure series Killjoys and playing the villain Ava Starr/Ghost in the 2018 superhero film Ant-Man and the Wasp. She's also known for her role as the Dothraki widow Ornela in Game of Thrones.

This could have been a big role but it led to nothing.


19. Michaela Coel as Resistance Monitor

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - Michaela Coel - Resistance Monitor

First Appearance: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Michaela Ewuraba Boakye-Collinson, known professionally as Michaela Coel, is a British actress who plays an unnamed Resistance Monitor in The Last Jedi. She's a BAFTA-winning screenwriter, singer, songwriter, poet, and playwright. Coel's best known for the Netflix television series Chewing Gum, which she created, wrote and acted as the lead role.

She joked that her one line announcing that The First Order had found them barely counted as a cameo. "I'm so serious," she told Complex. "It's literally, I [sit] on the spaceship and I say three words. And they probably didn’t even make the movie."

But it did and she made her brief close-up work.

18. Aki Omoshaybi as Guila Angira


First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Aki Omoshaybi is an actor and director who plays Resistance bridge officer Guila Angira in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017). He's best known for A Moving Image (2016) and The Riot Club (2014). He died soon after.

His character wasn't named in the movie but was listed by name in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary.

17. Clarence Smith as Arven Wendik

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) - Clarence Smith - Arven Wendik (or Bravo 3)
First Appearance: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Clarence Smith plays Arven Wendik a Naboo fighter pilot in The Phantom Menace. Smith was born in London, England and was part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He played roles in King Lear (2016) and Hamlet (2016).

His role in the movie is brief but his character shows up in the 2003 video game Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided.

16. Elroy Powell as Rosser Weno

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Elroy Powell - Rosser Weno
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Elroy Powell plays the bar patron Rosse Weno in The Force Awakens. He was there when Han Solo showed up at Maz Kanata's bar and watched Starkiller Base destroy the Hosnian system. Powell is an actor and director, known for Forbidden Truth (2017) and New Blood (2016). Elroy Powell is better known for his stage name "Spoonface" and is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and producer. 

His name was given in the Star Wars Visual Dictionary and the character has his very own LEGO mini-fig. Too bad he didn't get to belt out a few tunes.

15. Christopher Kirby as Giddean Danu

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Christopher Kirby - Giddean Danu
First Appearance: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Christopher Kirby is an Australian-American actor who played Senator Giddean Danu in Revenge of the Sith. He's best known for his role as Mitch Hanson on "The Saddle Club" and playing Mauser in The Matrix sequels.

Kirby filmed a number of scenes as a Galactic Republic senator that joins a group opposing the Galactic Senate but they were cut from the final film. It's a shame because they're very powerful scenes.

14. Kevin Layne as Finch Dallow

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - Kevin Layne - Finch Dallow
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Kevin Layne plays a Resistance Bomber Pilot in The Last Jedi. He's the pilot of the bomber that Paige Tico is assigned to. He has one line ("Look out!") before his cockpit is blown to bits.

He described filming his scene as "surreal" because of the set. There's a LEGO mini-fig of his character so he's got that going for him.

14. Tosin Cole as Bastian


First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Tosin Cole plays X-Wing pilot Bastian in The Force Awakens. Cole is best known for his role as Ryan Sinclair in Doctor Who, Unlocked (2017) and EastEnders: E20.

Bastian, known as "Red Four", is one of the Red Squadron pilots who attacked Starkiller Base and cheered after it got merked. Cole's enthusiasm and joy make his role a standout. It could have been a faceless group of random pilots. But he makes being an X-Wing pilot look fun!

His character hasn't shown up much but he did get a role in the video game LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


13. Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Tynnra Pamlo
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) - Sharon Duncan-Brewster - Tynnra Pamlo

First Appearance: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Sharon Duncan-Brewster plays Senator Tynnra Pamlo in Solo. Pamlo is worried about the power of the Death Star and shows a person of deep warmth and compassion. Duncan-Brewster is a British actress best known for her role as Crystal Gordon in Bad Girls and Trina Johnson on EastEnders.

Her character has been referenced in the Visual Guide and novelization.


11. Jeffery Kissoon as Rear Admiral Guich

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Jeffery Kissoon - Rear Admiral Guich
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Jeffery Kissoon is a British actor who plays Rear Admiral Guich in The Force Awakens. Kissoon is an actor with credits in British theatre, television, film, and radio. He's performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company played in lead and supporting roles from Mark Antony in Antony and Cleopatra to Space 1999 as Dr. Ben Vincent.

Kisson's Guich is the one that gives authorization for Poe Dameron and the fighters to attack the Starkiller Base. So he had a line and Guich shows up in the LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game. Another waste of amazing talent.

10. Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Korr Sella

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Maisie Richardson-Sellers - Korr Sela 
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers plays Korr Sela in The Force Awakens. She's best known for her roles in The Originals, Of Kings and Prophets (2016), and DC's Legends of Tomorrow (2016). She plays a trusted Resistance naval officer and advisor to General Organa. She didn’t have a huge role. And she died an untimely death after the planet Hosnian Prime was destroyed by Starkiller Base. But she served with grace and dignity.

There are actually two scenes filmed with Richardson-Sellers but her first appearance ended up on the cutting room floor. She did show up in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary and there's a Korr Sella LEGO mini-figure. 

9. Philicia Saunders as Tabala Zo

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Philicia Saunders - Tabala Zo
First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Philicia Saunders plays Tabala Zo in The Force Awakens. Saunders is the first African-American woman playing a human character to have a spoken line in the movies.

Her character also appears in the LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game. It's amazing to think it took almost 40 years for a black woman to speak on Star Wars. But she wouldn't be the last.

8. Crystal Clarke as Pammich Goode


First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Crystal Clarke is an American actress who played Pamich Nerro Goode in Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens.

Pammich Nerro Goode serves as a lead dispatcher during the attack on Starkiller Base. Goode reappears in the sequel piloting one of the skimmers on the planet Crait. There were over 67,000 open submissions and she and Pip Andersen won roles from the grueling audition process.

Besides appearing in two movies her character also has an appearance in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary and the LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game.

7. Gin Clarke as Jedi Adi Gallia


First Appearance: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Gin Clarke plays the powerful Jedi Master Adi Gallo in the Star Wars prequels. Clarke is a former model and has appeared in movies like The Fifth Element (1997) as well as several music videos.

Interestingly she only actually played her character in The Phantom Menace. Unused footage and other actresses filled in her role in Episode II.

Her character would later play a major role in the animated Clone Wars series. She's the second best black Jedi in the galaxy.

6. Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) - Forest Whitaker - Saw Gerrera

First Appearance: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Forest Whitaker plays the resistance fighter Saw Gerrera in Rogue One. Forest Steven Whitaker III is an accomplished actor best known for The Last King of Scotland (2006), Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) and Black Panther (2018). Whitaker has won numerous acting awards including Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, National Board of Review Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

The character of Saw Gerrera first appeared in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But Saw was originally conceived by creator George Lucas for a live-action TV series. That was scrapped but he found a place on the series.

Whitaker's performance is strange, fierce and powerful. His devotion to his cause drives his every action and his loyalty to his friends is beyond question. A powerful role from a powerful actor.

5. Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka


First Appearance: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Hugh Quarshie plays Naboo Royal security forces Captain Quarsh Panaka. Quarshie is best known for his Star Wars role. But he's also known for Highlander (1986), Nightbreed (1990), and the recent Red Sparrow (2018).

Behind-the-scenes the character was supposed to be in the sequel The Clone Wars but after Quarshie wasn't given the full script, just his lines, he refused to return. According to Wookipedia Panaka eventually became a high-level Imperial Moff for the Empire.

Panaka is a strong leader and a competent advisor. His role elevates all black characters in Star Wars to new heights. He's had his own LEGO mini-fig and action figure.

4. Thandie Newton as Val


First Appearance: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Thandie Newton plays the mercenary Val in Solo. She's the first black female lead in Star Wars. Melanie Thandiwe "Thandie" Newton is an award-winning actress best known for The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), 2012 (2009) and the HBO show Westworld. Newton gives her character power and force that's never been seen in the movies before or since and elevates the brief appearance to new heights.

Unfortunately, her character didn’t have much screen time and will probably never be seen again. A waste but an important milestone.

3. Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu


First Appearance: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Samuel L. Jackson plays the only black male Jedi in the known universe named Mace Windu. Samuel Leroy Jackson has appeared in over 100 films but is best known for Pulp Fiction (1994), Jurassic Park (1993) and Snakes on a Plane (2006).

Jackson played Mace Windu with a style and swagger that has never been seen before or since. When George Lucas asked Jackson which colored lightsaber he wanted: Blue or green. He said purple. Lucas explained that lightsabers can't be purple and Jackson said that's what he wanted. Which is why he has the only purple lightsaber in the history of the universe. He also says he owns the saber hilt and was inscribed with the words "bad motherf**ker".

From his purple lightsaber to his unwavering confidence in the Jedi Order he became a fan favorite. If not for his untimely demise he'd be a perfect fit in the sequels. By the way, he's sick of the Mother F***ing Mace Windu memes.

2. John Boyega as Finn


First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
British actor John Adedayo B. Adegboyega is best known for the Star Wars films along with Attack the Block (2011), Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018), and Detroit (2017).

FN-2187, nicknamed Finn by Poe Domeran, is a former Stormtrooper who was sold to the First Order as a child. The idea came from a writers meeting where Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt were trying to come up with a male lead. They thought of a pirate a merchant, marine and other types. According to Arndt Larry [Kasdan] "got pissed at all of us and he's just like, 'You guys, you're not thinking big. What if he's a stormtrooper that ran away?'"

The character struggled with the evil of the First order and finally joined the Resistance. From an act of fear, he blossoms into a soldier and a leader. Despite the negative reaction from some racists about his race, he's the first lead actor in Star Wars movie and that's an achievement no one can take away.

1. Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian


Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) - Billy Dee Williams  - Lando Calrissian
First Appearance: Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Billy Dee Williams plays the artful smuggler Lando Calrissian in Return of the Jedi, Empire Strikes Back, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. Aside from Star Wars William December "Billy Dee" Williams Jr. has been in critically acclaimed films like Brian's Song (1971), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), and Mahogany (1975).

The first and most influential man of color in Star Wars. His casting broke barriers beyond the franchise and it opens the door to black men in science fiction for decades.

The best part is he didn't play Lando. He played Billy Dee Williams. His natural charm, poise, and sex appeal rose above both his color and his genre.

There have been 22 significant black actors in the Star Wars movies and there are probably going to be more. How many more?

Consider that 95% of the African-American characters were developed after the original three movies. Plus, 75% of the black characters are from the sequels. So the future is getting brighter and hopefully more diversity is coming.

Could we get a new black Jedi? The first black villain? We'll have to wait and see, but there have been many awesome characters of color in Star Wars and more to come.


Which is your favorite black actor from Star Wars? Are there any I missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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