Top 10 Singers Who Are Surprisingly Good Actors

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Top 10 Singers Who Are Surprisingly Good Actors

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
They can sing, they can act, they can do it all! For this list, we'll be looking at celebrities who are primarily known as singers but impressed us when they dipped their toes in the acting pool. Our countdown includes Harry Styles, Beyonce, LL Cool J, and more!
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Top 10 SIngers Who Are Surprisingly Good Actors


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Singers Who Are Surprisingly Good Actors

For this list, we’ll be looking at celebrities who are primarily known as singers but impressed us when they dipped their toes in the acting pool.

Which acting performance by a singer do you think was award-worthy? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Harry Styles


Boy band heartthrob, solo sensation, and entrepreneur are just some words that describe this star. In 2017, he added actor to that list, making his film debut in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” The director apparently underestimated the extent of Styles’ fame but cast him because “he fit the part wonderfully and truly earned a seat at the table.” And the critics agreed. Continuing down the acting path, 2022 will see Styles make his leading man debut in the film adaptation of the 2012 novel “My Policeman”, and feature in Olivia Wilde’s psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling”. Could Styles’ also be MCU bound? He played Eros in “The Eternals” mid-credits scene, and he’s supposedly in talks to play the villain in an “X-Men” reboot.

#9: Rihanna


As if Rihanna wasn’t iconic enough with her singing career and beauty and fashion lines, she’s also delved into film. Her debut role was a cameo on 2006’s “Bring It On: All or Nothing”. Her starring role in “Battleship” in 2012 earned her a Razzie, but she followed it up with an entertaining cameo in “This is the End”, and lent her voice to DreamWorks’ “Home” in 2015. She also joined the female-led heist in 2018’s “Ocean’s 8”. RiRi even put a twist on one of the most famous scenes in movie history in the TV series “Bates Motel.” Her extensive collection of roles proves just how versatile she is, and we can’t wait to see her stretch her talents even further.

#8: Dolly Parton


Parton is best known as a singer-songwriter, philanthropist, and all-around national treasure. Her most famous acting role is probably Doralee Rhodes in the 1980 comedy “9 to 5”. She received multiple Golden Globe nominations for her acting as well as the film’s title track. However, this was just the beginning for the country singer. Bitten by the acting bug, she went on to star in films like “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Steel Magnolias.” She even garnered a whole new fanbase after playing Miley Stewart’s aunt on “Hannah Montana.” She’s really done it all! Parton explained that she’s particular about what roles she takes on. And if you ask us, she’s made some pretty decent judgment calls.

#7: Whitney Houston


As a singer, Whitney’s powerhouse vocals remain unrivaled. But as an actress, her talents are pretty unforgettable too. We all recall her acting debut as Rachel Marron in “The Bodyguard.” However, Houston continued to prove that she was a woman of many talents with countless film and television credits. Some of her most prominent roles included “Waiting to Exhale” in 1995, “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” in 1997, and “Sparkle” in 2012. Houston knew how to pull at our heartstrings or make us laugh out loud in seconds. No matter what the role, she brought elegance, dynamism, and charisma in a way that only she knew how. And it was always magical.

#6: Diana Ross


Diana Ross made her name as the lead singer of The Supremes before embarking on an eclectic and highly acclaimed solo career. You might remember that she “Ease[d] on Down the Road” as Dorothy in the 1978 musical movie “The Wiz.” However, this was hardly her only acting gig. In 1972 she won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Sings the Blues” Her other film credits include “Mahogany” in 1975, “Out of Darkness” in 1994, and “Double Platinum” in 1999. In 1974 she also became the first African-American woman to co-host the Academy Awards.

#5: Ne-Yo


You probably know this artist from songs like “So Sick,” “Miss Independent,” and “Closer.” But did you know that the singer-songwriter also tried his hand at acting? Fans can see him in films like “Save the Last Dance 2”, “Stomp the Yard” and “Girls Trip.” He also starred in the 2012 war movie “Red Tails.” The singer said he wanted a role “that had nothing to do with the music business,” and he certainly nailed it. Based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the role allowed audiences to appreciate his impressively wide range. He’s continued to pursue acting roles on the big screen and small.

#4: Beyoncé


We don't need to tell you that Beyoncé's a woman of many talents. Countless hits, endless awards, and universally acclaimed visual concept albums are just the tip of the iceberg. Her film credits include "The Pink Panther," "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "Cadillac Records," and "Obsessed." In 2015 the singer reportedly took acting lessons to help further her movie career. And who could possibly forget her brilliant performance as Deena Jones in "Dreamgirls," which earned her a Golden Globe nomination? She's even lent her voice to roles, most notably Nala in the 2019 "The Lion King" remake. Whether she's singing, dancing, or acting, Bey has a unique magnetism that's totally irresistible.

#3: LL Cool J


The rapper shot to fame in the 80s with his breakthrough single “I Need a Beat” and quickly became a trailblazer in the hip-hop world. However, as he told Stephen Colbert, he didn’t want to limit himself to just one path and believed he had what it took to make it in the acting world. He made his acting role debut in 1991 in the cop-comedy “The Hard Way.” Some critics believed his career shift might harm his reputation as a rapper. He proved them all wrong with outstanding performance in the TV series “In the House” and films “Halloween H20” and “Deep Blue Sea.” Now, he’s probably best known for playing Sam Hanna in “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

#2: Janelle Monáe


Monáe’s another of those super talented all-rounders who can turn anything she touches into gold. She gained international recognition with her debut album “The ArchAndroid” (arc) and has amassed eight Grammy Award nominations throughout her career so far. In 2016, the singer made her acting debut in the Oscar-winning “Moonlight”. The highly acclaimed “Hidden Figures” came out the same year. She told Hollywood Reporter that it was important that her first roles championed representation. You can also see her in the psychological thriller “Homecoming” and horror flick “Antebellum.” Monáe is continuously climbing to new heights, looking for roles written for “the human”, rather than stereotypes.

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

Cher
She’s Been Nominated for Two Academy Awards, Winning One for “Moonstruck”

Mary J. Blige
The Artist Has Had a Plethora of Acting Gigs Since Her Debut on “The Jamie Foxx Show” in 1988

Ludacris
He Appeared in the 2005 Best Picture “Crash” & the “Fast & Furious” Franchise Among Many Others

Frank Sinatra
Ol’ Blue Eyes Scored an Oscar for His Role in Non-musical Drama “From Here to Eternity”

Mariah Carey
Winner of the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Breakthrough Actress Award for Her Performance in “Precious”

#1: Lady Gaga


Stefani Germanotta tried to make it as an actress before becoming the eccentric pop star we’ve come to love. She confessed that she was “terrible at auditioning,” but right before deciding to step back and reevaluate, she landed a minor role in an episode of “The Sopranos”. Of course, switching to music turned out to be the best decision, because look where it got her. Even so, she never lost sight of her original dream. “Sin City,” “American Horror Story,” and “House of Gucci” are just some examples that showcase her impressive range as an actress. Don’t even get us started on her poignant performance in “A Star is Born.” We bet anyone who passed on her back then is kicking themselves now.
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