11 Actors that Low-Key High-Key Stunt on Your Faves

I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted,
or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleas’d not
the million, ’twas caviare to the general. But it was, as I receiv’d it
—and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of
mine—an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down
with as much modesty as cunning.
Hamlet, Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2

You know their names: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis. They’re the greatest out there doing it on stage or screen. But you know they’re not the only Actors of Color working right now, right? You didn’t? Well, that sucks. But lucky for you we’re finna wax poetic about some of the less celebrated, but still G.O.A.T.s, in showbiz who deserve all the accolades. Like all of them.

Y’all ready for this? Here we go!

Regina Hall

Brittany Williams: Y’all, Hollywood been sleeping on Regina Hall for years. Years. Her cameo as Candy, a stripper with a heart of gold, in Best Man has sex appeal and honesty and vulnerability. Like Candy would make all of us go full Drake and buy a private dance just so we can sit with her and tell her why she needs to get out the game. Plus, she’s the queen of being the best part of a shitty movie. Like Scary Movie 3 through 5, Malibu’s Most Wanted, and the American remake of Death at a Funeral. And there will be no Scary Movie 2 slander in this house (even though some of her best work was left on the cutting room floor). None. Because this is fucking GOLD.

And if you haven’t seen Girls Trip, first of all WTF are you doing with your life? Not being great, that’s what. But Hall demonstrates not only her excellent comedic timing but an emotional range and control that you expect to see from the greats.

Regina King

Keith Cleveland: Regina King just may be the pound-for-pound champion in the comedy/drama acting game. You may have first met Ms. King as the trash-talking friend in Boyz N Da Hood, but her filmography only blew up from there. Have you ever quoted a line from Riley or Huey Freeman? [My personal favorite is “You goin pay what you owe!”] You can thank Regina for that as she has two of the three most important roles on The Boondocks.

But on the other hand, no one can say Regina can’t hold her own in the dramatic roles. After her performance in Ray, I can’t ever hear the song “Hit the Road Jack” the same way. If looks could kill, Jamie Foxx would’ve been flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water halfway through that movie.

Don Cheadle

Omar Holmon: Yo, Don Cheadle can’t do any wrong man. Rosewood. Hotel Rwanda. Oceans 11. Dude is War Machine man. I knew he could be funny in a role but when Cheadle did the Captain Planet spoof? “Captain Planet B****. Don’t summon me again unless you ready for that pain” and made that shit a series. Oh my gawd, my favorite.

His cameo in Kevin Hart’s stand up, where he’s pissed off at Kevin? Show stealer. Rapping along to Kendrick verses in DNA?! “Kendrick Lamar?” Two first names, fucks up with that?” Cheadle isn’t being touched. You’re not pigeon-holing my guy in any role. He won’t stand for it. I knew he was well rounded but seeing him in these skits, just for fun? I love it. I live for great actors showing they don’t shy away from comedy and that they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Loretta Devine

Izetta Nicole: There is absolutely no way that we can talk about the funniest most underrated actors without bowing down to the GOAT herself, Loretta Devine. Yes, Loretta been killing the game since A Different World. She was the sassy doe-eyed residence hall manager with quick come backs and shade for days. Loretta was sashaying and making folks giggle in Waiting to Exhale, but those roles don’t show her chops. Have you seen Dirty Laundry? Loretta was in all her goofy glory at the end, when she got lit up like a Christmas tree while coming to terms with her son being gay. Then she laid out that she had been having “sexual relation with the taxi driver Percy.”

When Loretta gave up the ghost at the end of that line and fell deadass into her plate I lost my damn mind. It’s good to see her cutting up on The Carmichael Show, but if that’s your intro to Ms. Devine, please check her IMDB page and see that resume of greatness.

Vanessa Williams

Brittany: A true triple threat (singer, dancer, and actress for you muggles) and the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America. Vanessa Williams belongs in the bougie Black girl pantheon along with Jasmine Guy, Phylicia Rashad, Karyn Parsons, and Robin Givens. And Williams manages to give gravitas without taking herself too seriously. Like here (with a special shout-out to Patti “The Queen of Stunts & Shows” LaBelle, Chaka “I don’t age or remember the 70s” Kahn, and Teyana “Body-ody-ody Goals” Taylor).

Not for nothing, she also plays an amazing villain. She’s given us classics like Wilhelmina from Ugly Betty, Teri from Soul Food (the movie, not the TV show), the Queen of Trash from Elmo in Grouchland, and Ebony Scrooge for Lifetime’s Christmas classic A Diva’s Christmas Carol. Listen to any of her eight albums or watch her do it backwards in heels in Dance with Me or Bye, Bye Birdie. Just watch her in anything because I guarantee she’s gonna do it with all the joy of Diahann Carroll in Dynasty or Eartha Kitt making Ladybird Johnson cry. EYE LIVE!

Michael Peña

Keith: Let’s be real. Ant-Man is more of a comedy than a super-hero movie. And the funniest moments in the entire movie, by far, came when Michael Peña’s Luis would go on his tangential stories whenever someone asked him a question. Especially when he would try and change his voice to portray different characters but they would all sound the same somehow.

Part of the magic of that role is that most of Peña’s most notable roles before Ant-Man were super serious. Like, cop running around the streets of Los Angeles (End of Watch), accomplice to an alleged terrorist (Shooter), or literally driving through the trenches of war (Fury) serious. The Chicago-born actor looks to be embracing his funny side even more as he’ll be bringing Luis back in Ant-Man and the Wasp. But don’t be surprised if you see him playing a cop again sometime in the future.

Lance Reddick

Omar: Listen, Lance “My skills to sick to take a day off” Reddick is a hard ass actor. You seen’em as Lt. Cedric Daniels on The Wire. You know his work as Charon (fitting name) in John Wick, and the voice of Ras Al Ghul in Beware The Batman. Your man Reddick does serious work, literally. Then I see Reddick on Eric Andre show and he punched a hole in his desk, walked off, then came back dressed as Kunta Kente and Geordi La Forge saying, “I wish I was Levar Burton. Where’s my iconic slave role?” I. Was. Fucking. SCREAMING!

The fact that he confused Eric Andre automatically gives him goat cred. Plus, I discovered Reddick has the illest Funny Or Die and College Humor killing the comedy sketches. The Toys R Me Sketch? Where he’s the store manager doing push-ups shouting “Toys R Me?” Reddick doesn’t half-ass any role, even in comedy. He bets the house every time with dry, subtle, or big humor.

Tichina Arnold

Brittany: Martin. I feel like that’s all I need to say to get all of us on the same page. I mean, who among us can forget this immortal scene?

Yes, Lady Arnold sings. She not only sings, she sangs. Go back and watch her alongside Tisha Campbell in Little Shop of Horrors or ask any of the folks who saw her as Evilene, the wicked witch of the west, in New York City Center’s production of The Wiz. We know she has the comedy chops, literally watch any episode of Martin or Everybody Hates Chris and then go watch Survivor’s Remorse to let her take you on some emotional journeys. She’s a real one. Believe that.

Guillermo Diaz

Omar: Guillermo Diaz had me tuned into Scandal because that boy can fucking act. I know we’re highlighting serious actors that can be funny, I gotta do the inverse for Diaz. I remember Diaz from Half-baked and Chappelle’s Show skits. Hilarious, then seeing him as Huck on Scandal? My god. Portraying a Black ops assassin with trauma, PTSD, and homicidal urges? Flip that fucking script, Guillermo Diaz. I tuned into Scandal for mad season because of Huck.

My favorite moment was when he got called a fanboy for playing video games by a teammate then, later on, tracked down a missing kid using their video game console as a homing beacon. My man said “Faaanboooooy found the kid” as a comeback and you could see him channeling Scarface from Half-Baked. I fucking love this guy. Don’t talk to me about comedy to drama switchin’ unless Guillermo Diaz is in the conversation.

Jenifer Lewis

Izetta: The only person that I’m willing to throw bows for in the name of calling them my fass auntie is Jenifer Motherfucking Lewis, baby. Yes. Yes. Yassssssssssss. She was in Dirty Laundry with Loretta and got YouTube videos coming out in the year of our social media gawds two thousand and seventeen like the queen mother that she is. Jennifer is out here singing her own versions of the D challenge looking like part of the Purple Hat Society for Playas with her face on a gatdamn plate.

If you go through that vitae, baby, Jenifer Lewis and Loretta Devine go back to the 1980’s and they staying relevant today. I know that Jennifer is known best these days for her role on Black-ish, but you need to dig deep and find some of her work that got her to where she is today. Jenifer Lewis stay keeping it real and funny AF.

Honorable Mention: Raven Symone´

Omar: I already know what you’re thinking, but if we’re talking comedy. If we’re talking disappearing into a hilarious role even if I don’t agree with her politics or statements… Raven Symone´ gotta be mentioned on that list. Don’t hate me, hate the fact that she’s still fucking funny (This was also a group decision. If I’m going down, I’m taking everyone with me!).

That’s So Raven had bars and the Raven’s Home spin-off with her as a mom now? I had no guilt laughing at that shit. Raven is stillmatic with the physical comedy, delivery, sarcasm, and going big for the laugh. Symone´ knows how to work an audience even if there isn’t one present. That’s skill, dude. I don’t even know if you can teach that shit. You just gotta know how to do it. Raven is damn near unfuckwitable when she’s playing herself. She’s never afraid to go big or embarrass herself for the laugh because she’s stringing you along the entire time. I’m just saying, recognize comedy game when you see it and Raven Symone´ is still looking familiar.

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