25 Light Skin Celebrities in Film and Entertainment
For the longest time, light skinned celebrities have been praised and admired in Hollywood. From Marilyn Monroe to Beyonce, these stars have left a lasting impression on the entertainment industry—and they’re still leaving their mark today.
What does it mean to be a light skinned celebrity in Hollywood?
Well, for starters, there is an undeniable privilege that comes along with having lighter skin. These stars often get more attention from the media and their fame seems to last longer than people with darker complexions.
Additionally, many popular roles are rarely given to actors with darker skin tones, which can create a systemic inequality within the industry.
In this article, we will highlight some of the most well-known celebrities with light skin tones.
25 Notable Celebrities with Light Skin in Hollywood
As noted by many individuals within this category, being a light-skinned celebrity can also bring its own set of challenges. People can be quick to judge these stars, assuming they got their roles only because of their lighter skin. Here are some of the most notable names with light skin.
Vanessa Williams is an American actress best known for her role as Wilhelmina Slater in the ABC comedy series Ugly Betty. She won the Miss America pageant in 1984 and is one of the first African-American women to do so. Williams has been acting since then, appearing in films such as Dance with Me (1998) and Kingdom Come (2001). She also released a number of successful music albums over the years.
Will Smith is an American actor, producer, and rapper who achieved success during his time on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He went on to star in blockbuster films such as Men In Black (1997), Independence Day (1996) and I Am Legend (2007). Smith has received numerous awards, including several Grammy awards, and is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood.
Halle Berry is an American actress who first gained attention for her role as Storm in the X-Men films. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Monster’s Ball (2001). Since then, she has starred in a number of films such as Kidnap (2017) and Catwoman (2004). Berry has been honored with numerous awards throughout her career including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mario Van Peebles
Mario Van Peebles is an American actor, director, producer, and writer who first came to prominence with his role in Heartbreak Ridge (1986). He has since directed a number of films such as New Jack City (1991) and Baadasssss! (2003). Van Peebles was also nominated for an Emmy in 2000 for his work on the miniseries Miracle’s Boys.
Rick Fox is a Canadian-Bahamian actor, businessman, and retired professional basketball player who appeared in the American comedy series Shameless (2011-2015). He was formerly a member of the Los Angeles Lakers from 1997 to 2004, winning three NBA championships with the team. Fox also owns the esports organization Echo Fox and appeared in films such as He Got Game (1998) and Blue Chips (1994).
Barack Obama is an American politician and former President of the United States. He was the first African-American to hold the office and won two terms in 2008 and 2012. After his presidency, he produced a number of documentaries including Crip Camp (2020) and Southside With You (2016). He also released a memoir titled A Promised Land in 2020.
Naya Rivera was an American actress best known for her role as Santana Lopez on Glee (2009-2015). She also starred in films such as The Master of Disguise (2002) and At The Devil’s Door (2014). Rivera sadly passed away in July 2020 at the age of 33.
LL Cool J
LL Cool J is an American rapper, actor, and entrepreneur who has been active since the 1980s. He was one of the first hip-hop artists to achieve mainstream success with his debut album Radio (1985). LL Cool J has starred in films such as Deep Blue Sea (1999) and S.W.A.T. (2003) as well as TV shows such as NCIS: Los Angeles (2009-2020).
Muhammad Ali was a professional boxer, activist, and public figure widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He made history by becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion while also fighting for civil rights and racial equality throughout his career. In 2001, he was portrayed by Will Smith in the biopic The Greatest.
Garcelle Beauvais is a Haitian-American actress and model who first gained fame for her role as Fancy Monroe on The Jamie Foxx Show (1996-2001). She has since appeared in films such as Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and White House Down (2013). Beauvais also starred in the TV series NYPD Blue (2001-2004) and Franklin & Bash (2011-2014).
Lenny Kravitz is an American singer, songwriter, and actor best known for his retro-style rock music. He has released ten studio albums over the years and won four consecutive Grammy Awards between 1999 and 2002. In addition to this, he starred in films such as The Hunger Games (2012) and Precious (2009).
Lisa Bonet is an American actress best known for her role as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show (1984-1991). She also appeared in films such as Angel Heart (1987), Enemy of the State (1998), and High Fidelity (2000). More recently, she played Antoinette on HBO’s Big Little Lies (2017-2019).
Allen Payne is an American actor and producer who first gained recognition for his role in New Jack City (1991). He has since appeared in films such as Jason’s Lyric (1994) and The Players Club (1998). Payne also starred in the TV series House of Payne (2006-2012) and Saints & Sinners (2016-2020).
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith is an American actress, singer, songwriter, and businesswoman best known for playing Niobe in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). She was also part of the main cast of Gotham from 2014 to 2019. Pinkett Smith released her first solo album The Sea in 2015 and produced the show Red Table Talk (2018-present).
Tia Mowry-Hardrict is an American actress best known for playing Tia Landry in the sitcom Sister, Sister (1994-1999). She also starred in films such as Seventeen Again (2000) and Twitches (2005). More recently, she has appeared on the TV series Instant Mom (2013-2015), Family Reunion (2020-), and Sweet Magnolias (2020-present).
Tamera Mowry-Housley is an American actress, television host, and author who rose to fame playing Tamera Campbell in Sister, Sister (1994-1999). She also starred in the TV series Strong Medicine (2000-2006) and hosted The Real (2013-2020). Mowry-Housley has released two books titled Oh Baby! Pregnancy Tales and Advice from One Hot Mama to Another (2012) and Twintuition: Double Vision (2015).
Janet Jackson is an American singer, dancer, actress, and songwriter best known for her chart-topping songs such as “Rhythm Nation” and “That’s the Way Love Goes”. She received a Grammy Award for Best Music Video for her single “Scream” (1995). Jackson also starred in films such as Poetic Justice (1993) and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000).
Chris Brown is an American singer, dancer, songwriter, and actor. He released his self-titled debut album in 2005 which spawned the hit single “Run It!”. Brown has since appeared in films such as Takers (2010) and Think Like a Man Too (2014). He has won numerous awards including two Grammy Awards and nine BET Awards.
Rihanna is a Barbadian singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman who first gained fame with her music album Music of the Sun (2005). She has since released nine studio albums including Unapologetic (2012) and Anti (2016). Rihanna has won nine Grammy Awards and starred in films such as Battleship (2012) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).
Prince was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor best known for his blend of funk, rock, soul, and pop music. He achieved worldwide fame with his 1984 album Purple Rain which spawned the classic hit single “When Doves Cry”. Prince also starred in the film Under the Cherry Moon (1986).
Tyra Banks is an American supermodel, television host, talk show host, producer, and actress. She is best known for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (1996-2004) and as the creator and host of America’s Next Top Model (2003-2017). Banks also starred in films such as Coyote Ugly (2000) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002).
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American retired professional basketball player who played for 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and won six championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar also appeared in films such as Airplane! (1980) and Fletch Lives (1989).
Beyoncé is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman who rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the group Destiny’s Child (1997-2006). She has since released six studio albums including Lemonade (2016) and The Lion King: The Gift (2019). Beyoncé won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance in Dreamgirls (2006).
Terrence Howard is an American actor best known for his portrayal of Lucious Lyon on the television series Empire (2015-2020). He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Crash (2004) and also appeared in films such as Iron Man (2008) and The Best Man Holiday (2013).
Zoe Saldana is an American actress who first gained fame for her role as Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar (2009). She has since starred in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Star Trek Beyond (2016), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Saldana won a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her performance in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Beautiful Skin Tones of Men and Women in Hollywood
Ultimately, being a light-skinned celebrity in Hollywood comes with both advantages and disadvantages. It is up to each individual actor to make the most of this privilege and create a meaningful career for themselves in Hollywood.
With enough dedication and hard work, any aspiring actor—regardless of their complexion—can achieve success in this competitive industry.