By now, you might be over the phrase “black don’t crack”. I know, I know, it has become kinda annoying. It can be used to make other races feel bad about how they age or be used as an excuse for black people to not take of their skin (although, there is a scientific reason why black skin ages better). But for now, we will use it as a way to truly appreciate and celebrate aging well.

Aging well is not about looking 25 if you’re 50. Above all, it is about taking care of yourself, inside and out at any age. There are plenty of lists out there that put all the focus on women that look great “for their age”.

For this list, we purposely celebrate both men and women, because aging affects all of us. And this list should not be taken as “Look, they are old and look good for their age.” It should be taken as, “Look, here is evidence that you can be over 50, still be stunning, and have a hot career in Hollywood and elsewhere.”

Here are the stars that make us believe in black don’t crack!

Rachel True, 50, Actress

Known to most audiences for her role in Half Baked, True was born in New York City in 1966. Her father is Jewish and her mother is of African-American and Native American descent.

This beautiful black actress attended New York University. Later, she moved to Los Angeles, and began appearing on Beverly Hills, 90210Getting ByThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Dream On.

 

Angela Bassett, 59, Actress

One of my very favorite actresses, I first fell in love with Ms. Bassett when she stared in What’s Love Got to Do With it.  She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won a corresponding Golden Globe Award.

Bassett has went on to star in so many great films including Panther, The Rosa Parks Story and The Black Panther. 

 

Halle Berry, 51, Actress

Known for her many roles throughout the years, Berry won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama Monster’s Ball (2001). She began her career as a model and spokesperson for Revlon.

Berry was born Maria Halle Berry; her name was legally changed to Halle Maria Berry at age five. Her parents selected her middle name from Halle’s Department Store, which was then a local landmark in her birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio. 

Berry’s mother, Judith Ann (née Hawkins), who is of English and German ancestry, was a psychiatric nurse. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was an African-American hospital attendant in the psychiatric ward where her mother worked; he later became a bus driver.

 

James Pickens Jr, 63, Actor

Born in Cleveland, he is perhaps best known for his starring role as Dr. Richard Webber on the ABC medical drama television series Grey’s Anatomy, and for his supporting role as Deputy Director Alvin Kersh on later seasons of the Fox Network science fiction series The X-Files

 

Kimberly Elise, 50, Actress

From Minneapolis, she made her feature film debut in Set It Off (1996), and later received critical acclaim for her performance in Beloved (1998).

During her career, Elise has appeared in films such as John Q. (2002), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), The Great Debaters (2007), For Colored Girls (2010), Dope (2015), Almost Christmas (2016) and Death Wish (2018). 

 

Denzel Washington, 62, Actor

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence
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One of the greatest actors of his generation, he has received countless awards for countless roles he has had over the years. He is from Mount Vernon, New York.

RELATED: Why You Should Cuff You A Black Woman For Cuffin’ Season 

Cicely Tyson, 92, Actress

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence
Elle

A true legend and a walking icon, a she’s an actress and former fashion model.

Cicely Tyson is best known for playing strong African-American women on screen and stage throughout her career. On top of that, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States in November 2016. She’s from New York.

 

Holly Robinson Peete, 53, Actress

One of my very first crushes, I remember her fondly from the 90s. She is perhaps best known for her roles as Judy Hoffs on the Fox TV police drama 21 Jump Street, Vanessa Russell on the ABC sitcom Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and moreShe’s from Philly.

 

Chris Rock, 52, Comedian

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One of the greatest comedians of all time, this New Yorker started out fairly meekly on SNL. After working as a standup comic and appearing in small film roles, Rock came to wider prominence as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s. The rest is comedy history. 

Robin Givens, 52, Actress

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence

Harvard and Sarah Lawrence alumnus, Givens married a young Mike Tyson in the ’90s.  Givens began her acting career after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1984.

In 1986, she won the role of Darlene Merriman in the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. She remained with the series for its entire five-year run. After the series ended in 1991, she continued her career with film roles and guest starring roles on television. She currently has a recurring role as Mayor Sierra McCoy on Riverdale.

 

Lenny Kravitz, 53, Rock Star

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A longtime friend and jam session buddy of Prince, Kravitz is a New York icon. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male.

Kravitz was also ranked number 93 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. On December 1, 2011, Kravitz was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He played Cinna in the Hunger Games film series.

Alfre Woodard, 65, Actress

A Tulsa native, Woodard has been named one of the most versatile and accomplished actors of her generation. She has been nominated once for an Academy Award and Grammy Award and 18 times for an Emmy Award (winning four) and has also won a Golden Globe Award and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Harry Belafonte, 90, Singer/Actor

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence
Photo by Brian Cook

Born in Harlem, he is one of the most successful Jamaican-American pop stars in history!  He was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style (originating in Trinidad & Tobago) with an international audience in the 1950s.

His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) is the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing “The Banana Boat Song”, with its signature lyric “Day-O”. 

 

Vanessa Williams, 54, Actress

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This Bronx beauty began her career in scandal. She initially gained recognition as the first African-American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 in 1983.

As an actress, Williams enjoyed success on both stage and screen, receiving an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of Teri Joseph in the film Soul Food.

Her best known television roles are that of Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty , for which she was nominated three times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Renee Perry on Desperate Housewives . She has also starred in films such as EraserSoul Food (1997) and Dance with Me .

 

Samuel L. Jackson, 68, Actor

One of my very favorite people ever, and not just because of his expletive-laced four-letter indicator, is a true American, originally from  D.C. A forever cool guy with roles in The Avengers, Pulp Fiction, and other classics. 

Iman, 62, Model

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Born in Somalia,  she is now a Somali-American fashion model, actress and entrepreneur. A pioneer in the ethnic-cosmetics market. She is also noted for her philanthropic work. She is the widow of English rock musician David Bowie, whom she married in 1992.

 

Iman is fluent in five languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, French and English

Vivica A Fox, 53, Actress

From South Bend, Indiana, I can’t imagine a boy my age who didn’t have an otherworldly crush on this woman in the 90s.  Because, as her last name says, she is quite the “fox”.

Fox began her career with roles on the daytime television soap operas Days of Our Lives  and Generations . She shifted to the prime-time slot starring opposite Patti LaBelle, in the NBC sitcom Out All Night (1992–93). Fox’s breakthrough came in 1996, with roles in two box-office hit films, Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day and F. Gary Gray’s Set It Off.

Richard Brooks, 54, Actor

 If you’re a sci-fi nerd like me, you know Mr. Brooks well. He  is best known for his one-off role as the eccentric bounty hunter Jubal Early in the space-western Firefly and assistant district attorney Paul Robinette in the NBC drama series, Law & Order from 1990 to 1993 and reprising his role as a defense attorney on that same show.

In 2013, he began starring as Patrick Patterson in the BET drama series, Being Mary Jane.

Janet Jackson, 51, Singer

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Known for sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, and elaborate stage shows, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over thirty years.

Having sold over 100 million records, Jackson is one of the world’s best-selling music artists.  She holds the record for the most consecutive top-ten entries on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart by a female artist with 18.

In 2008, Billboard placed her number seven on its list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists.

Cynthia Bailey, 50, Model/Reality Star

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Originally from Decatur, Alabama , at age 18, she moved to New York to start a modeling career and signed with Wilhelmina Models. She has appeared twice on the cover of Essence. and modeled in European fashion shows. 

Bailey has appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. She also appeared in the music video for New Order’s “Round and Round” off their 1989 album Technique.

Originally from Roxburry, he has appeared in films Lean on MeOne False MoveShort CutsWaiting to Exhale and more. 

Martin Lawrence, 52, Comedian

“Daammmnnn Gina!” Lawrence came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywood career as a leading actor, most notably in the television sitcom Martin. But his film career is as impressive, with films like House Party,  Bad BoysNothing to LoseBlue StreakLifeBig Momma’s House, and more

Lisa Raye, 51, Actress

Like me, she’s a Chicagoan.  She’s an actress, model, businesswoman and fashion designer. McCoy is best known for portraying Diana “Diamond” Armstrong in the 1998 film The Players Club, and Neesee James on the UPN/The CW sitcom All of Us . 

Don Cheadle, 52, Actor

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence

This inescapably haunting talent from Kansas City, Missouri is an actor, writer, film producer and director. 

In 2004, Cheadle earned favorable critical notices for his lead role as Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He starred as Marty Kaan on the Showtime sitcom House of Lies, for which he won a Golden Globe Award in 2013.

Elise Neal, 51, Actress

From Memphis, she may be best remembered for her big breaks in 1997, appearing in the films RosewoodMoney Talks and Scream 2. From 1998 to 2002, Neal starred as Yvonne Hughley in the ABC/UPN sitcom The Hughleys. She also has appeared in films including RestaurantMission to MarsPaid in FullHustle & Flow (2005), and more. 

Jamie Foxx, Almost 50, Actor

This truly incomparable force of nature has been a favorite of mine since the 90s, and he never stopped!

He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the 2004 biographical film Ray

Other acting roles include Staff Sergeant Sykes in Jarhead (2005), record executive Curtis Taylor, Jr. in Dreamgirls(2006), Detective Ricardo Tubbs in the 2006 film adaptation of TV series Miami Vice, and more. 

Foxx is also a Grammy Award-winning musician, producing four albums which have charted in the top ten of the US Billboard 200: Unpredictable (2005), which topped the chart, Intuition (2008), Best Night of My Life (2010), and Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses (2015).

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence

You’re in good hands. The silky, sultry-voiced actor hails from San Mateo and is best known for his appearances in commercials for Allstate Insurance. He is also known for portraying baseball player Pedro Cerrano in the Major League film trilogy, Secret Service Agent Tim Collin in the 1997 political thriller film Absolute Power, and Sergeant Major Jonas Blane on the drama series The Unit.

Kaysbert is also known for playing U.S. Senator (later President) David Palmer on the first 5 seasons of 24 and has appeared in the films Love FieldHeatFar from Heaven and the science fiction series Incorporated.

Marjorie Harvey, 53, Internet Personality

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Marjorie Harvey is an American socialite, fashion icon and internet personality. She is also married to television host Steve Harvey. After a couple of troubled marriages, she married Steve Harvey, whom she had apparently dated years ago. It is believed that Steve Harvey’s bodyguard hinted that she would be the right partner for the television host.

Adrienne-Koi Johnson, 54, Actress/Physical Trainer

She is an American actress, choreographer, fitness trainer, and life coach. Acting since 1987, Johnson has made many guest appearances on sitcoms, television dramas and music videos; she also has numerous supporting roles in films, including House Party and Baby Boy.

Leon Robinson, 55, Actor

Known simply as Leon, he is an American actor and singer, who began his professional career as a film actor in the early-1980s. Robinson is best known for his roles as David Ruffin in the TV Movie The Temptations (1998), J.T. Matthews in the 1991 Robert Townsend film, The Five Heartbeats, Derice Bannock in the 1993 film, Cool Runnings, and as Shep in the 1994 basketball drama film, Above the Rim.

Keenen Ivory Wayans, 59, Actor

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence

For me, the best part of comedy TV in the 90s was In Living Color . The eldest and arguably most influential of the Wayans Family of entertainers. Although my earliest introduction to his acting talents was the film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, he first came to prominence as the host and the creator of the 1990–1994 Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color.

Keenen has produced, directed and/or written a large number of films, starting with Hollywood Shuffle, which he co-wrote, in 1987. A majority of these films have included him and one or more of his brothers and sisters in the cast. 

Sade, 58, Singer

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence

This British bombshell and trend setter was born Helen Folasade Adu. Following stints as a fashion designer of men’s clothing and part-time model, Sade began singing backup for the band Pride in the early 1980s. Growing attention from record labels led her and other band members to split from Pride and form the band Sade.

After a record deal with Epic Records, the band released their debut album Diamond Life (1984), which sold over six million copies worldwide, became one of the top-selling debut recordings of the 1980s and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist. The band went on to release a string of multi-platinum selling albums.

Djimon Hounsou, 53, Actor

Hounsou began his career appearing in music videos. He made his film debut in the Sandra Bernhard film Without You I’m Nothing (1990) and gained widespread recognition for his role as Cinqué in the Steven Spielberg film Amistad (1997).

He gained further recognition for his roles in GladiatorIn America, and Blood Diamond(2006), receiving Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nominations for both the latter films. 

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe he plays the role of Korath the Pursuer in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), and is set to reprise his role in the upcoming Captain Marvel coming out March, 2019.

Lela Rochon, 53, Actress

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Little Rock Arkansas’ own, Ms. Rochon is best known for her breakthrough role as Robin Stokes in the 1995 romantic drama film Waiting to Exhale. She later had starring roles in films The ChamberGang RelatedKnock Off , and Why Do Fools Fall in Love. 

 

Lionel Richie, 68, Singer

This handsome crooner and staple of longevity has been doing things since the 60s and is showing no sign of slowing. American singer, songwriter, actor and record producer.

Beginning in 1968, he was a member of the funk and soul band the Commodores and then launched a solo career in 1982. He also co-wrote the 1985 charity single “We Are the World” with Michael Jackson, which sold over 20 million copies. 

Richie has sold over 90 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. Furthermore, he is a five-time Grammy Award winner. In 2016, Richie received the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s highest honor, the Johnny Mercer Award.

Garcelle Beauvais, 50, Actress

I remember not knowing how to pronounce this lovely lady’s name when I was a kid. Wish we’d had the internet!

Garcelle was known to me because of her stint on Jamie Foxx’s show. She is a Haitian-American actress and former fashion model. Furthermore, she is also known as Valerie Heywood on the ABC crime drama, NYPD Blue.

Wesley Snipes, Actor, 55

Passenger 57 is 55!

His prominent film roles include Mo’ Better BluesNew Jack CityWhite Men Can’t JumpDemolition Man, the Marvel Comics character Blade in the Blade film trilogy. Also, he formed a production company, Amen-Ra Films, in 1991, and a subsidiary, Black Dot Media, to develop projects for film and television.

Beverly Johnson, Model, 65

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Johnson rose to fame when she became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974. 

In 1975, Johnson became the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle. In 2012, Johnson was the star of the reality series Beverly’s Full House which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The New York Times named Johnson one of the 20th century’s most influential people in fashion in 2008.

Willie Gault, 57, Athlet

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence

He is a former American football wide receiver and Olympic athlete. Gault played in the National Football League for 11 seasons for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders. Considered one of the fastest NFL players of all-time, Gault was a member of the Bears team that won Super Bowl XX, and was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team that boycotted the 1980 Olympics.

Gault played college football at the University of Tennessee from 1979 to 1982. He led the Vols in all-purpose yardage as a sophomore, junior and senior, and was named to the All-American team in 1982. He still holds numerous school kickoff return records.

Keith Sweat, 56, Singer

You couldn’t go anywhere in the 90s without hearing this guy’s name. He was the key to any woman’s heart and stayed on love-making mixes across the nation.

He’s an American R&B and soul, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, radio personality, and an early figure in the new jack swing musical movement. Sweat is most widely known for his songs, Twisted and Freak Me.

 

Lisa Bonet, Almost 50, Actress

The girl of my dreams before I even dreamt of girls! 

Bonet is best known for her role as Denise Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show, which originally aired from September 1984 to April 1992, and later originally starring in its spinoff comedy, A Different World, for its first season (1987–88). She also has kids with super human, Jason Momoa. Lucky guy he is!

Blair Underwood, 53, Actor

He played headstrong attorney Jonathan Rollins on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law for seven years. Underwood has received two Golden Globe Award nominations, three NAACP Image Awards and one Grammy Award.

In recent years, he has appeared as Andrew Garner on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The New Adventures of Old ChristineDirty Sexy Money and In Treatment and was in NBC’s The Event.

Toni Braxton, Singer, 50

Toni didn’t just make my heart throb, she made my whole body shake! I was a child in love with Ms. Braxton and I don’t care who knows it!

She began performing with her sisters in a family group known as The Braxtons in the late 1980s, who were signed to Arista Records.

Braxton attracted the attention of producers Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Later, she recorded a series of songs for them before being signed to their Arista-distributed imprint, LaFace Records.

Her self-titled debut studio album (1993) reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States, selling 10 million copies worldwide and seeing the international success of the singles “Another Sad Love Song” and “Breathe Again”. The album brought Braxton three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist.

Mario Van Peebles, 60, Actor/Filmmaker

Just like his father before him, Van Peebles showed there was still an audience for blaxploitation best known for directing New Jack City in 1991. He is the son of actor and filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, whom he portrayed in the 2003 biopic Baadasssss!, which he also co-wrote and directed.

Lynn Whitfield, 64, Actress

The true definition of femme fatale for most blacks of my generation, this beautiful and multifaceted actress is a Baton Rouge native.

She began her acting career in television and theatre, before progressing to supporting roles in film. Lynn Whitfield won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance as Josephine Baker in the HBO biographical drama film The Josephine Baker Story (1991).

Salli Richardson, Almost 50, Actress

The true definition of femme fatale for most blacks of my generation, this beautiful and multifaceted actress is a Baton Rouge native.

She began her acting career in television and theatre, before progressing to supporting roles in film. Salli won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance as Josephine Baker in the HBO biographical drama film The Josephine Baker Story (1991).

 

Joe Morton, 70, Actor

black don't crack, black actors, famous black people, aging, black excellence
SCANDAL, ABC

A true delight to watch, my earliest memories of Mr. Morton come from that scene in the Cyberdyne building in the second Terminator film.

He worked with film director John Sayles in The Brother from Another PlanetCity of Hope  and Lone Star. Other films he appeared in include Terminator 2: Judgment DayOf Mice and MenSpeedApt PupilWhat Lies Beneath and more. 

 

Viola Davis, 52, Actress

A Juilliard grad, this beautiful dark-chocolate stunner is a next-level talent, and has awards for days, having won a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar. 

Davis’ film breakthrough came in 2008, when her supporting role in the drama Doubt earned her several nominations, including the Golden Globe, SAG and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Diana Ross, 73, Singer

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown’s most successful act. They are the best charting girl group in US history, as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time.

Ross went on to become a successful solo artist. 

Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, 58, Producer/Singer

Known professionally as Babyface, he is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He has written and produced over 26 number-one R&B hits throughout his career, and has won 11 Grammy Awards. He is from Indiana.

So, there you have it! Although we couldn’t include all the stars that we thought of, we hope that this list inspires you to take care of your bodies.

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Roman Debotch is a filmmaker, photographer, and co-founder of blackexcellence.com. Through the platform that is Black Excellence, she has been able to marry her passion for story telling with her passion for issues affecting the black community. Roman earned her B.A. in Film and TV Studies and ventured into the world of video production after college. She produced music, corporate, and event videos for years before co-founding BlackExcellence.com. Since then, she has been working as a contributor to the platform as well as continuing her video production business. The very limited time Roman is away from either writing or shooting a video, she can be found hiking or enjoying one of Southern California's beautiful beaches.

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