Stick To What You Know: Singers/Rappers Who Should’ve Never Tried Acting
Some musicians have made the switch from performing on the stage to being in front of a movie or television camera with ease, but for every Will Smith or Queen Latifah, there’s a Beyonce (sorry!) and others who struggle to make their roles believable. Here are a few singers/rappers who should’ve never tried acting. Ever.
Beyonce may be known as an R&B/pop diva but she also has several movie roles under her belt. The former Destiny’s Child member made her film debut in 2001’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera and although she starred in the remake of Dreamgirls, it was her co-star Jennifer Hudson that received all of the acclaim. After playing Etta James in Cadillac Records, Beyonce was the talk of the town after her role in Obsessed but not in a good way. She may have earned a nomination for a Teen Choice award but her performance playing the wife who suspects her husband of cheating also grabbed a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.
Britney Spears burst onto the music scene at the tender age of 18 and after the massive success of her first two albums, it seemed like she could do no wrong. That is until Spears starred in the 2002 train wreck of a movie Crossroads. Written by Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, the movie follows three best friends on a road trip across the country. The movie was panned by critics but was a moderate success at the box office, pulling in over $60 million worldwide. However, Spears’ debut film role was less than stellar and her performance earned her a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. She also snagged one for the song “Not A Girl. Not Yet A Woman” from the movie’s soundtrack.
R&B singer Usher began his music career in the mid 90’s and by the decade’s end, the “Confessions” singer was an international star. Ready to make his film debut, Usher snagged a few movie roles in the late 90’s. After a recurring role on “Moesha” and a guest spot in She’s All That, Usher grabbed his first leading role in 1999’s Light It Up. Usher apparently didn’t learn too much from his fellow co-stars Forest Whittaker and Vanessa L. Williams because his performance was trashed by critics as much as the movie was. “As an actor, Raymond is whiny and annoying, but not nearly so much as the film,” one review read. Undeterred, Usher has gone on to star in several more movies since then and is slated to play Sugar Ray Leonard in an upcoming flick.
Rapper Lil Kim released three number one hits with her debut album Hard Core, but not quite reaching the same level of success later on in her career, the Brooklyn born emcee explored other options. After playing herself in a couple movies, Lil Kim starred as Chasity, the green-contacts wearing, long weave having cowgirl in the independent Western film Gang of Roses. Lisa Raye, Bobby Brown and Stacey Dash rounded out the “all-star” cast but it was Lil Kim who deserved to be crowned with “Worst Performance” in the film. In 2009, Lil Kim publicly trashed the biopic Notorious for how she was portrayed in the movie, saying producers were more interested in the character than her as a person.
50 Cent’s debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin and subsequent back story, was so popular and widely successful that the Queens native decided to star in a biographical movie about his quest to become famous. Titled the same name as his album, 50 Cent played himself in the fim, which wasn’t a stretch or an exercise for his acting chops. The rapper-turned-mogul has gone on to star in more than 20 films, most of which were direct-to-DVD. A few years ago, 50 Cent turned heads after he lost more than 50 lbs to play a college football player bound for the NFL when he is diagnosed with a deadly disease. Although his attempt was noble, the rapper’s performance in the movie was labeled as one-dimensional. 50 Cent is set to appear in Last Vegas, co-starring alongside Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas. The movie is expected to open in theaters in November.
Pop star Madonna, having already conquered the music world, set her sights on the film industry as so many musicians fo. While she received favorable reviews for her role in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan and a Golden Globe award for 1996’s Evita, Madonna’s later roles were criticized. The “Like A Virgin” singer starred in the 2002 direct-to-video flop Swept Away, which was directed by her then-husband Guy Ritchie. That same year, critics trashed her performance in the London play Up For Grabs, calling her among other things, “the evening’s biggest disappointments.” One critic described Madonna’s cameo performance in the James Bond franchise movie Die Another Day as “incredibly wooden.”
Mariah Carey has been in the music business for over 25 years and her career has gone through some ups and downs. Following her split from Columbia Records and her first husband Tommy Mottola, Carey decided it was time to head to the silver screen. She starred in the 2001 film Glitter, which followed a biracial singer’s struggle in the music business during the disco-crazed 80’s. Scheduled for release during the Labor Day weekend, the movie was pushed back a few weeks after Carey was hospitalized for exhaustion. Despite her condition, critics did not go easy on Carey with one proclaiming, “For her part, Carey seems most concerned about keeping her lips tightly sealed like a kid with braces, and when she tries for an emotion —any emotion— she looks as if she’s lost her car keys.” The film was nominated for six Razzies, including Worst Picture and Worst Screen Couple for Carey’s cleavage, but the “Beautiful” singer won the only Razzie for Worst Actress. Thankfully she was much better in Precious and The Butler, but not enough to make this a full-time thing.
Adam Levine may have the dance moves like Mick Jagger, but when it comes to acting he may want to look for inspiration other than from the Rolling Stones frontman. Jagger started acting in 1968 and was featured in several films, including playing himself in All You Want Is Cash, but his role as a mercenary in the 1992 movie Freejack was forgettable. One critic bashed his performance: “Jagger acts stony and impassive. He’s appealing to watch (even if it does look as if his face is starting to melt), but when will rock stars learn that, in front of the movie camera, it’s not enough to coast on aura. One must do as well as be.” Despite the bad reviews Jagger continued on dabbling in films.
Jessica Simpson became a household name after starring in her own MTV reality show when she famously wanted to know if the tuna she was eating was actually fish or chicken. Even though she was a pop singer, Simpson, like many musicians, made the transition into film in the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard remake. Simpson played Daisy and pranced around on the silver screen in a pair of Daisy Dukes but even the short shorts couldn’t salvage her poor performance. Simpson was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actress but lost out to Paris Hilton and her turn in House of Wax.
Vanilla Ice may want to forget about his career as a rapper but he also may want to draw a blank when it came to him being in front of a camera as well. After his single “Ice, Ice Baby” became an overnight international success, Ice, real name Robert Van Winkle, made his film debut in the 1991 flop Cool As Ice as a motorcycle riding rapper who falls for the wrong girl in a small town. Blender magazine ranked Ice’s performance as the seventh worst performance ever by a musician turned actor. The film was so bad director David Kellogg later disowned it and it snagged six Razzie nominations. Vanilla Ice won for Worst Actor.
Rapper DMX once had a flourishing rap career but his battle with drugs and the legal system kept the Yonkers emcee out of the limelight and in rehab or a jail cell for much of his career. Before his troubles got the best of him, DMX also had a promising film career as an action-hero star. He made his film debut in Belly and soon DMX was starring alongside fellow action star Steven Seagal. Too bad neither one of them could act.
Singer Ashanti got her start singing hooks for her fellow Murder Inc. label mates and soon she was releasing songs of her own. Because her singing career hit a few lows, the New York native decided to look for work in other fields and soon found herself grabbing minor roles in various television and film projects, including the 2005 fluff film John Tucker Must Die. Despite its moderate success at the box office opening weekend, critics bashed the film and everyone’s performances in it. Luckily for Ashanti, although her performance was bad, she wasn’t the worst one in the movie. Jenny McCarthy received a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. While she is still struggling to get her music career back on track, Ashanti has landed a recurring role in Lifetime’s original series Army Wives.
Master P made his first few millions selling mixtapes out the truck of his car but after his No Limit Records label took off, the New Orleans entrepreneur decided to try his hand at acting. He got his start in the 1997 I’m Bout It hood classic in which he wrote, directed and starred in. The following year, he released I Got The Hook Up. Despite lacking acting skills, the rapper turned multimedia mogul has over 20 film and television roles under his belt. Thankfully, most of them went straight to video. In 2006, Master P took over for his son the second season of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” after he was forced to quit due to an injury. He was eliminated in the fourth round.
Rihanna has been doing her best to earn a reputation as a bad girl but after her film debut in the military sci-fi Battleship, she may be earning a rep as a bad actress as well. Battleship, which was based loosely on the classic board game we have all played back in the day, co-starred Liam Neeson and True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard. Rihanna’s debut performance garnered a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. The critics may have called the film a disaster but that hasn’t stopped the film from grossing over $300 million worldwide.
Kelly Clarkson made history by winning the first season of the hot new singing competition television show American Idol. Partnering with runner-up Justin Guarini, the duo starred in the romantic musical film From Justin To Kelly. Although they were each nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Breakout Star, most film critics didn’t agree. Clarkson and Guarini both earned nominations for a Razzie for Worst Actor and Worst Screen Couple. Clarkson has gone on to play herself in several more television and film roles.