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Top 10 Female Singers Who Can Actually Act

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Shane Fraser Top 10 Female Singers Who can Act Subscribe: ‪‬‬ Cher, Jennifer Hudson, Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand, all of the actresses can sing and act! These multitalented celebrities are not only gifted with amazing voices but they’ve proven their acting chops on the silver screen as well! You may know Olivia Newton-John for her song, “Physical” but who could forget her breakthrough role in “Grease” as Sandy Olson? Others include Jennifer Lopez for her memorable role as “Selena”, and country music royalty Dolly Parton, in movies like “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “9-5” and “Steel Magnolias”. Special thanks to our users Ben Graham for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at MsMojo's Social Media: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Snapchat:

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Top 10 Female Singers Who Can Act

It’s a risky transition, but when it works, it works amazingly. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Female Singers Who Can Act.

For this list, we’ve chosen singers who are also talented actresses. The women on this list have to be considered singers first and actors second, at least by industry standards, and they also need to possess a legitimate acting ability, at least by our standards.

#10: Olivia Newton-John

She’s a four-time Grammy winning recording artist with over 100 million album sales, yet Olivia Newton-John will never leave the shadow of “Grease.” For good reason, of course: “Grease” is a cultural phenomenon, and Sandy is the seminal modern musical heroine—which has everything to do with Newton-John’s fiery stage presence. Olivia was already a pop superstar when she was cast in the film, but her musical legacy changed to cinematic legacy, especially to younger viewers who only know Newton-John from “Grease”. She’s acted in several other movies, like “Xanadu”, but no film, or song, can overtake Sandy Olson in public recognition.

#9: Whitney Houston

The late great singer, who possessed one of the greatest voices in music history, came to cinematic prominence in the 1992 film “The Bodyguard”. The blockbuster romantic film was the second highest grossing movie of the year, and its soundtrack is the best-selling of all-time. Houston, paired with Kevin Costner, gave a magical performance as a semi-fictional version of herself, which made the movie surprisingly poignant. Though reactions to the film were mixed, and it even garnered several insulting Golden Raspberry nominations, one for Houston herself, her larger-than-life presence superseded whatever deficiencies she may have had, and her performance is now revered.

#8: Jennifer Lopez

Despite the overwhelming number of underwhelming acting choices, J-Lo can give a great performance under the right circumstance. Her breakout role in “Selena” is proof of that. Playing the celebrated Latina singer in the 1997 biopic, Lopez crafted a look and style that was so perfectly Selena. She was even nominated for a Golden Globe the following spring. In addition to “Selena,” Lopez received favorable reviews for “Out of Sight” and “Angel Eyes”, but movies like “Gigli” and “The Wedding Planner” sent her career in a tailspin, which, thankfully for moviegoers, landed in music, where she has thrived. The acting talent is there, she just needs a good film to resurrect her career.

#7: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is country music royalty, occupying the highest rung of the genre with females like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Along with a storied musical career that saw eight Grammy Awards and 25 number one singles, Dolly starred in the films “9 to 5,” “Steel Magnolias,” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” all of which garnered positive reception from critics. Dolly, as her personality dictates, was the focal point of these films, and her acting abilities were sharpened into masterful comedic and dramatic roles, which made her a star in multiple arenas. Since the 80s, Parton has mostly stayed out of the acting spotlight, though a string of appearances on “Hannah Montana” brought her back into focus.

#6: Lena Horne

Not only was Lena Horne an extraordinary singer and actor, she was an African American pioneer in the entertainment industry. Beginning in the 1930s as a Cotton Club jazz singer, Horne worked her way through the underbelly of the entertainment industry and eventually earned a recording contract, releasing several hit albums and singles in the 1940s. Horne would also receive attention from movie studios for her eclectic talent, starring in such films as “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather”. Unfortunately, because of her social activism, Horne was blacklisted during the Red Scare and was unable to work in the industry. Once the Communist label was revoked, Horne went back into the limelight and performed for many more years before unfortunately passing away in 2010.

#5: Jennifer Hudson

Few singers have transitioned to acting as seamlessly as Jennifer Hudson. The “American Idol” star and Grammy winner burst onto the movie scene with 2006’s “Dreamgirls.” And by burst we mean impress everyone in the entertainment business. Playing the singer Effie White in her acting debut, Hudson stole the film with her performance, leading critics, and viewers—and even Oprah—to attribute such terms as “transcendent” and “religious experience” to her act. She also won nearly every supporting actress award that’s offered in the industry, including the Oscar and Golden Globe, and became one of the most sought-after entertainers in the industry. Her acting career predictably bloomed after “Dreamgirls,” and she recently starred on Broadway in the 2015 adaptation of “The Color Purple”.

#4: Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah’s acting career is owed in full to her work as a recording artist. Latifah is a Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter and a female hip-hop pioneer, who released her first record in 1989. The album, All Hail the Queen, was certified Gold, and producers, drawn to her distinctive style and commanding personality, saw gold as well. Latifah was cast in a small role in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever”, earned a guest spot on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and later starred in the sitcom “Living Single”. But the Queen could not be contained in small roles or the small screen, and she delivered a staggering performance in 2002’s “Chicago,” for which she received an Academy Award nomination.

#3: Cher

In the 1980s, Cher had a run of cinematic success that was unmatched by any singer. “Silkwood” demonstrated Cher’s acting talent in a supporting role, and showed she could compete with any legitimate actor in Hollywood. This was confirmed the following spring when she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The success of “Silkwood” led to leading roles in “Mask” in 1985, for which she received critical acclaim, and “Moonstruck” in 1987, for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress. The pop superstar rounded out the 80s with roles in “Mermaids” and “The Witches of Eastwick,” before semi-retiring from acting—besides occasional cameo appearances and starring in 2010’s “Burlesque”.

#2: Bette Midler

Bette Midler got her start in Broadway in the 60s, appearing in such plays as “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Salvation”, before transitioning to solo singing in 1970. Midler quickly found her stride in the music industry, and became one of the best-known artists of the last four decades, releasing several top-10 albums and singles. However, she took a prosperous turn into film acting in the late 70s, starting with “The Rose,” a highly successful romantic drama that earned Midler an Oscar nomination. She subsequently starred in dozens of hit films like “Beaches” and “For the Boys,” receiving shoals of critical acclaim. Midler remains one of the few people to have an Emmy, Golden Globe, Grammy, and Tony Award.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- Diana Ross

- Beyoncé

- Lady Gaga

#1: Barbra Streisand

As one of only a handful of people to achieve a Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, Barbra Streisand is the Renaissance woman of showbiz. Streisand is determined by the Recording Industry Association of America to be the Top Female Artist of the Century. But, as a testament to her acting ability, many viewers may know her more from acting than from singing, as Streisand has starred in a dozen popular movies spanning multiple genres, from her Oscar winning debut in “Funny Girl”, to the darkly serious “Yentl,” to screwball comedies like “Meet the Fockers”. Round out her career with seminal appearances on TV and Broadway and Streisand is America’s foremost female entertainer.

Do you agree with our list? Who`s your favorite female singer that can act? For more versatile Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.


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