From the Stage to the Screen: 6 Singers Turned Actors

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NBC’s Smash is back!  More drama off-stage than on, Smash gives fans a look into the world of Broadway and what it takes to create a show-stopping musical.  Jennifer Hudson joins the cast this season, and inspired by her dual-love of acting and singing, we compiled a list of some other singers who made the jump to acting successfully.  Don’t forget to catch the two-hour premiere of Smash tonight.


Katherine McPhee

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Katherine McPhee in Smash

A runner-up on the fifth season of FOX’s American Idol back in 2006, Katherine McPhee has released three albums.  She transitioned into acting a year after Idol with guest roles on the web series lonelygirl15 and the hit ABC show Ugly Betty.  She was also seen in Community and The House Bunny before landing the lead role of Karen Cartwright on NBC’s Smash.


Jennifer Hudson

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Jennifer Hudson in The Three Stooges

Another Idol alum, Jennifer Hudson came in seventh place on the reality show.  Following her stint on Idol, she made her film debut in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls as Effie White.  She won numerous awards for her portrayal of Effie, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a BAFTA Award.  Since then, Hudson has juggled both a music and acting career with two albums and roles in Sex and the City, The Secret Life of Bees, Winnie, and The Three Stooges.  She is currently guest starring on Smash alongside her Idol friend Katherine McPhee.


Justin Timberlake

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Justin Timberlake in Trouble with the Curve

Justin Timberlake has been off the music scene for quite a few years, focusing on his acting career.  A former Star Search contestant and Mouseketeer, he rose to stardom as a member of N*SYNC.  He later pursued a solo career that garnered much success and made several television appearances including a role in the TV movie Model Behavior.  Following his second album, he decided to take a break from music to concentrate on acting, appearing in films like The Love Guru, The Social Network, and Friends with Benefits.  Now, seven years later, Timberlake is returning to music.  His new album The 20/20 Experience drops on March 19 and his album’s first single “Suit & Tie” is out now.


Will Smith

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Will Smith in Men in Black 3

Will Smith got his start as part of hip-hop’s DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.  He made the switch to television in 1990 when NBC contacted him about creating The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air television show.  His fame grew, giving him more acting opportunities, and leading to major roles in Six Degrees of Separation and Bad Boys.  He began working on a solo music career in 1997 and has released four albums, the last coming out in 2005.  Smith has dedicated much of his time to his film career, with projects like the Men in Black series, Hitch, The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, and Seven Pounds.  He has several films in production now, including rumored sequels to Hancock, Bad Boys, and I, Robot.


Beyonce

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Beyonce in The Pink Panther

Beyonce is on a career high right now.  She performed at President Obama’s Inauguration and her Super Bowl halftime performance was iconic.  She reunited with the other members of Destiny’s Child for a new album called Love Songs and just announced The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.  Even while busy with her music and taking care of her family, she finds time to pursue her acting career.  She’s come a long way from her first lead role in the TV movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera, having since starred in Austin Powers in Goldmember, The Fighting Temptations, The Pink Panther, Dreamgirls, and Obsessed.  Her next project has her voicing the character Queen Tara in the animated film Epic due out in May.


Queen Latifah

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Queen Latifah in Joyful Noise

Queen Latifah got her start in the world of music as a rapper and singer.  In the early 1990s, she landed a lead role on the FOX show Living Single.  She later began exploring more acting options, nabbing roles in films like House Party 2 and guest appearances on shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Her success continued to rise following her performance as Matron “Mama” Morton in the film adaption of Broadway’s Chicago.  Since then, she’s appeared in Taxi, Beauty Shop, Last Holiday, the Ice Age series, Hairspray, and Valentine’s Day, among other films.  During the promotion of the 2012 film Joyful Noise, she shared that has been working on a new album.  Her company Flavor Unit Entertainment currently produces the VH1 series Single Ladies, which is heading into its third season.  She is also acting in a new film called House of Bodies.

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