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Posted on Oct 28, 2015

40 Celebs You Probably Didn't Know Attended Black Colleges

Some of entertainments biggest names are HBCU alum.

News flash! Hollywood is full of historically black college and university alums. Tons of recognizable names have studied in the libraries of Spelman, Morehouse, Howard, and Hampton — just to name a few.

So, we've put together a list of celebs who've attended HBCUs. See if any of your faves share your alma mater.

1. Keenen Ivory Wayans

Christopher Polk / Getty Images

The oldest of the insanely talented Wayans family, Keenan Ivory Wayans received an engineering scholarship to Tuskegee University, but later dropped out to focus on his comedy career.

2. K Michelle

Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

Michelle attended Florida A&M University on a music scholarship she received after yodeling at her audition. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

3. Keshia Knight Pulliam

Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Little Rudy Huxtable grew up and decided to take a page from her fictional big sister's book. Like Denise Huxtable who attended the fictional HBCU Hillman College, Pulliam decided to pursue a degree in sociology at Spelman College in real life. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta.

4. Wendy Raquel Robinson

Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images

Before becoming known for roles on The Steve Harvey Show and The Game, Robinson graduated cum laude from Howard University with a degree in drama, which came in handy when Tasha got stuck in that love triangle with Pookie and Rick.

5. Anika Noni Rose

Rich Polk

Before voicing Disney's first African-American princess, Rose earned a bachelor of arts in theater from Florida A&M University.

6. Wanda Sykes

Jason Kempin / Getty Images

One of the funniest people on the planet, Sykes graduated from Hampton University with a degree in marketing and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Postgrad she worked as a contracting specialist at the National Security Agency.

7. Oprah Winfrey

Larry French / Getty Images

Oprah is a household name. It's impossible to think of one person who's never heard of her. But, before Winfrey became the most recognizable woman on Earth, she studied communications at Tennessee State University, where she received a full scholarship after winning an oratory contest.

8. LaTanya Richardson and Samuel L. Jackson

Jesse Grant / Getty Images

Both Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, actress and producer LaTanya Richardson, attended HBCUs. Richardson graduated from Spelman with a degree in drama, while Jackson, who initially pursued a degree in marine biology before switching to dramatic arts, graduated from Morehouse College. Jackson also co-founded the Just Us Theatre.

9. Ruben Studdard

Tasos Katopodis

The Grammy-nominated winner of American Idol received a football scholarship to Alabama A&M University, where he pursued voice studies and joined the Omicron Delta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

10. Sean Combs

Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images

The man who coined the term "bitchassness" and launched quite a few careers attended Howard University for two years before leaving to pursue a career in the music industry.

11. Lance Gross

Noam Galai / Getty Images

Gross passed on the opportunity to pursue a professional track and field career while at Howard University in order to focus on acting. He graduated with a degree in theater.

12. Emmanuel Lewis

Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

Known for his iconic role as the titular character on the television show Webster, Lewis attended Clark Atlanta University, where he graduated with a degree in theatre arts.

13. Randy Jackson

Charley Gallay

The American Idol judge, Grammy award–winning producer, and "dawg" enthusiast studied music at Southern University.

14. Common

Skip Bolen / Getty Images

Rapper, actor, and award winner Common received a scholarship to Florida A&M University, where he studied business administration. There he recorded “A Penny for My Thoughts” and worked on music while maintaining a strict routine of studying for three hours every day.

15. Taraji P. Henson

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Before becoming an award-winning actress and the matriarch of a highly dysfunctional fictional hip-hop family, Henson briefly attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she studied electrical engineering, before transferring to Howard University, where she graduated with a degree in theater.

16. Spike Lee

Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

The iconic director graduated from Morehouse College with a BA in mass communications while also taking film classes at Clark Atlanta University. He went on to receive his master's from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

17. Michael Clarke Duncan

David Livingston / Getty Images

The late actor attended Alcorn State University, where he studied communications and played basketball for one season.

18. Erykah Badu

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

The iconic neo-soul singer studied theater at Grambling State University before leaving to pursue music.

19. Stefan Burnett of Death Grips

Karl Walter / Getty Images

Burnett, whose stage name is MC Ride, attended Hampton University, where he studied visual arts before leaving to focus on music.

20. Eva Marcille

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

One of the more successful winners from America's Next Top Model, the model and actress Eva Marcille attended Clark Atlanta University where she majored in speech communications with a focus on theatre and a minor in criminal justice. She received early admission to Vanderbilt Law School, but decided to pursue modeling and acting instead.

21. Esther Rolle

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Known for her iconic role as Florida Evans, Rolle attended Spelman College before transferring to The New School and then, eventually, Yale University. She also briefly attended Hunter College.

22. Mase

Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

Former Bad Boy rapper and pre-Kesha dollar sign fan --- his named is often stylized as Ma$e --- left hip-hop in 1999 to pursue a math degree at Clark Atlanta University but later left to become a minister.

23. Kim Coles

Mark Davis / Getty Images

Kim Coles got her start playing various parts on In Living Color with her comedic skills later landing her roles in shows like Living Single, One on One, and The Soul Man. But before fame Coles briefly attended North Carolina Central University.

24. Rick Ross

David Becker / Getty Images

The infamous rapper spent a year at Albany State University on a football scholarship before leaving to pursue a rap career.

25. 2 Chainz

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Born Tauheed Epps, 2 Chainz attended North Clayton High School where he graduated second in his class and played on the school's basketball team. His skills on the court led to an athletic scholarship to Alabama State University.

26. Gladys Knight

Mike Coppola / Getty Images

The Empress of Soul really needs no introduction. The seven-time Grammy winner graduated from Shaw University with honors.

27. Brian McKnight

David Buchan / Getty Images

This multitalented singer-songwriter and producer is basically music industry royalty. McKnight attended Oakwood University (previously Oakwood College) before leaving to pursue music.

28. Omarosa Manigault

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Love Omarosa or hate her, you can't deny that she is one of the best reality show personalities ever. Manigault received a BA from Central State University and received her master's and doctorate from Howard University.

29. Phylicia Rashad

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Phylicia Rashad is a legend. In 2004, she became the first African-American woman to win a lead actress Tony for her role in Raisin in the Sun, making a monumental moment in history. Rashad is a Howard University alumna, she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in fine arts, and is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. And, fun fact, her younger sister Debbie — ya know, Debbie Allen — also attended Howard.

30. Debbie Allen

Joshua Blanchard

A few of you may know her as Dr. Catherine Avery on Grey's Anatomy, but Debbie Allen's résumé is chock full of amazing performances. Allen earned a BA in classical Greek literature, speech, and theater from Howard University and holds an honorary doctorate from Howard and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

31. Wale

Jason Merritt

Wale attended Virginia State University on a football scholarship before transferring to Bowie State University. He also attended Robert Morris University.

32. Garrett Morris

Jesse Grant / Getty Images

Comedian, actor, and member of the original Saturday Night Live cast, Morris studied at Dillard University and received a degree in voice and composition.

33. David Banner

Paras Griffin

Banner attended his mother's alma mater, Southern University, where he served as president of the Student Government Association and received a BA in business. He later pursued a master's in education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore but left to pursue music.

34. Lionel Richie

Jorge Guerrero / AFP / Getty Images

Richie attended Tuskegee University on a tennis scholarship and graduated with a degree in economics. He briefly considered studying divinity, but eventually decided that becoming a priest wasn't his thing and instead pursued music.

35. J.B. Smoove

Rob Kim

Smoove, born Jerry Angelo Brooks, attended Norfolk State University, where he shortened his name to "JB" and added "Smoove."

36. Toni Braxton

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

The Grammy award winner briefly pursued a teaching degree at Bowie State University before leaving to focus on music.

37. Kym Whitley

Moses Robinson

The comedian and actress attended Fisk University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

38. Michael Strahan

Alberto E. Rodriguez

Born in Houston, Texas, Strahan spent most of his childhood in Germany but later came back to the states to finish high school. The Live! With Kelly and Michael star received an athletic scholarship to Texas Southern University.

39. Towanda Braxton

Moses Robinson / Getty Images

A member of one of our favorite entertainment and reality TV families, Braxton attended Bowie State University. She's also a member of Zeta Phi Beta.

40. Terrence J

Charley Gallay / Getty Images

The actor and television personality known for his gig as a host on BET's 106 & Park, and now co-anchor on E! News, is an alum of North Carolina A&T State University. There he joined Omega Psi Phi, served as student government association president, was a DJ for the school's radio station WNAA, and also a DJ for Greensboro's local station 102 Jamz.

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