5 Best Acting Performances by Singers

If you haven’t been trained in acting, it can be extremely hard to give a convincing performance on-screen. Movie studios are willing to take a chance on singers, though, as their name power alone can help bring in audiences. There have been some truly poor performances from singers who dabble in acting for the first time, but there have also been some great ones.

Let’s take a look at some of the musicians who wowed audiences with their performances, with several of them getting nominated for Academy Awards. Here are our picks for the five best acting performances from those who came from the music industry.

Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)

Jennifer Hudson made waves in 2004 when she appeared on the third season of “American Idol” as a contestant. Hudson made it deep into the competition, but ultimately fell short as she finished in seventh place. Still, Hudson made a big impact during that time. Hudson didn’t go into singing after her “Idol” days, though, but instead went into acting.

In 2006, Hudson made her acting debut in the biopic “Dreamgirls” playing real-life singer Effie White. Hudson, like her co-star Beyonce Knowles, was nominated for an Oscar. Out of the two, Hudson was the only one to take home the trophy, winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Since then, Hudson has starred in films including “Chi-Raq” and “Respect”, this time playing Aretha Franklin.

Eminem (8 Mile)

During the late 1990s, underground Detroit rapper Eminem hit the mainstream when he was discovered by Dr. Dre and released his first debut with Aftermath, “The Slim Shady LP”, in 1999. Born Marshall Mathers, Eminem is considered by many to be the greatest rapper ever due to his songwriting and flow. He hasn’t dabbled much in acting, but when he has, it’s been memorable.

Eminem’s best role came when he played a fictionalized version of himself in the hit film “8 Mile” in 2002. The film had a large budget, but it ended up paying off as it grossed nearly a quarter-billion at the box office. Taking on the part of Jimmy (a.k.a. B-Rabbit), Eminem gave a heartfelt performance with audiences able to tell that Eminem tapped into his Detroit upbringing for the performance.

Cher (Moonstruck)

Cher had a little acting work early in her career with then-husband Sonny Bono when the two had a variety show together. However, Cher mainly was known for her music career in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to hit songs like “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves”, and “Dark Lady”. 

After the height of her music career, Cher got into acting during the early 1980s. After appearing in “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, she starred in the 1983 film “Silkwood”, leading to her first Oscar nomination. Four years later, she starred as Loretta Castorini in the hit film “Moonstruck”, this time earning herself her first Oscar win.

Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)

Lady Gaga burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s with the release of her debut album “The Fame” which featured a long list of massive hits. She quickly became one of the most popular names in music and was even chosen to headline the Super Bowl Halftime Show. After accomplishing basically all she could in music, Gaga turned her attention to acting.

She had made appearances in the films “Machete Kills” and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” during the mid-2010s, but her acting career really took off at the end of the decade. That’s when she starred in the remake of the 1954 film “A Star Is Born”, playing Ally Maine. Gaga was nominated for a pair of Oscars, taking home the title for Best Original Song (“Shallow”), but was snubbed for Best Actress.

Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)

Mary J. Blige is music royalty as many consider her to be the Queen of R&B. Blige churned out hits in the 1990s and 2000s including “Family Affair”, “Real Love” and “I Can Love You”. Blige made her acting debut in 2001 with “Prison Song”, but it would be a long time until she returned. In 2017, she came back in a big way, playing the role of Florence Jackson in “Mudbound”.

Blige starred alongside the likes of Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund in a critically acclaimed performance. Like Lady Gaga, Blige was nominated for both acting and singing at the Academy Awards. While she didn’t win either title, she did get the nod for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song (“Mighty River”).

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