Without any formal training as an actor, Lucas made his film debut in the 1994 Kevin Costner film The War. He subsequently was cast as Caleb Temple in CBS's television series American Gothic, which ran from 1995 to 1996, and in the films Sling Blade, Ghosts of Mississippi and The X-Files. Later in 1997 Black starred in the TV film Flash, which aired on The Wonderful World of Disney.
Black had supporting role in Cold Mountain in 2003, then had a larger role in 2004's football–themed drama Friday Night Lights and 2005's Gulf War–themed film Jarhead. Black also starred in the third film in The Fast and the Furious series, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Black described his part in the film as a "fun role". He also appeared in the 2009 film Get Low and the 2010 film Legion.
His most recent role was playing Brooklyn Dodgers' shortstop Pee Wee Reese in the 2013 drama 42. Black, having done previous sports films and played sports early in his life, found the filming experience to be "a lot more enjoyable because you get to reminisce about the days when I used to play, and then you get the experience of being on a team again with the actors and have that camaraderie with the players".
In 2015, he reprised his Tokyo Drift role in a cameo appearance in the seventh film of The Fast and the Furious series, Furious 7. Black reportedly signed a three-film deal with Universal Pictures to appear in future Fast & Furious films following Furious 7.
In 2014, Black recently played as Christopher LaSalle in CBS police procedural television series NCIS: New Orleans, but in 2019 he left the series after his character killed off since his parted ways.