Unlike Forbes' annual lists of the richest in Hollywood royalty, determining who possesses the most power is very much a subjective task. So much depends on perception: If you think someone has power, they probably do, regardless of whether their last film was a box-office hit or a bomb. In fact, power in Hollywood is as much about how people choose to wield it as it is about how they managed to acquire it.

African Americans in Hollywood, meanwhile, remain something of a subset of the industry, despite the obvious fact that there are more black actors, writers, directors and producers than ever before, and no one denies the clout that people of color can exert at the box office.

Still, developing a list of the 10 Most Powerful African Americans in Hollywood is a challenge. For example, no one under 30 made the top slots, and it really says something significant that the man-woman ratio here is an unsatisfactory 8-to-2. What we know is that ground continues to be broken each year.