Key players and bit-parts

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The Independent Culture
Whoopi Goldberg (above)

With Julia Roberts as the highest paid actress in Hollywood, thanks to Sister Act and Sister Act II, for which Disney (not over-generous) paid her $7m.

Wesley Snipes Earns big bucks as macho action man - $4m for Demolition Man; $8m for The Drop Zone. Showed comedy flair in White Men Can't Jump. To be seen shortly in drag in To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Neumar.

Laurence Fishburne The actor to watch. Made debut at 14 in Apocalypse Now but his career got into gear with King of New York and Boyz N The Hood. Oscar nominated for his performance as Ike Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It. Now making Just Cause with Sean Connery.

Denzel Washington (above)

Handsome, middle-class, university educated Oscar winner, established at 40 as mainstream movie star with crossover potential in Philadelphia and The Pelican Brief following his star turn in Malcolm X. Latest film - Devil in a Blue Dress opposite Jennifer Beals.

John Singleton At the age of 23 he made a spectacular debut with Boyz N The Hood. Feted and fussed over by Hollywood, his follow-up, the romantic melodrama Poetic Justice, with the singer Janet Jackson, was found wanting financially and critically; it remains unreleased in this country. His third feature, Higher Learning, about an intake of middle-class college students, has just wrapped.

Eddie Murphy (above)

In the Eighties his films grossed more than $1 billion but after the triple whammy of Trading Places, 48HRS and Beverly Hills Cop, quality went out of the window. At 30, he tried to reinvent himself with Boomerang and The Distinguished Gentleman. To no great effect. But does he care? Not at a rumoured $12m a picture.

Danny Glover Perfect co-star (Lethal Weapon) and ensemble player (Grand Canyon), he's soon to be seen in Disney baseball film Angels in the Outfield.

Morgan Freeman Success came late with his Oscar nomination for Driving Miss Daisy. Tipped for another nomination for his role in The Shawshank Redemption with Tim Robbins.

Spike Lee (above)

The godfather of the black film movement with a string of independent films from She's Gotta Have It to Jungle Fever. Stalled with the family drama, Crooklyn. Replaced Scorsese as director of the Richard Price crack-dealer novel, Clockers.

Matty Rich Only 19 when he made Straight Out of Brooklyn. His second feature, The Inkwell, was a disappointment. Has teamed up with Quincy Jones for a film about America's first black organised crime group.

Bill Duke A powerful presence as an actor, he also directed the British-funded A Rage in Harlem. Since then he's moved into the mainstream with Disney's Century Club and Sister Act II.

Angela Bassett (above)

Bassett's stunning turn in What's Love Got To Do With It won her an Oscar nomination.

The Hudlin brothers Their first film House Party made $27m on a $2.5m budget. Their third, Boomerang, took $70m. Now with HBO.

Mario Van Peebles Son of Seventies blaxploitation success Melvin Van Peebles, Mario directed and starred in New Jack City, a big hit for Warners. Now making The Black Panther.

Jaye Davidson The black performer with the highest profile in this countrybecause of The Crying Game. Soon to be seen in futuristic Hollywood movie, Stargate.

Lenny Henry (above)

His bid for Hollywood stardom failed with True Identity, but he remains involved with Crucial Films, a British company producing comedy for television.

Thomas Carter The director to watch - nominated five times for an Emmy (won twice), Iaunched Miami Vice among other shows. Now working on Walls Came Tumbling Down about two great black baseball players restricted to playing in Negro League.

IsaAc Julien Julien's short film, Looking for Langston, put him on the British movie map. He made an impressive low-budget feature debut co-writing and directing the gay inter-racial love story, Young Soul Rebels in 1991. He is now making documentary films in New York.