Pop Stars to Movies Stars

From Lady Gaga to Britney Spears, our info-graphic uses the Oscars and Razzies to chronicle the best and worst singers/musicians who swapped stage for the screen.

Roll out the red carpet, strike your best pose and get your acceptance speech ready.

It’s awards season.

For an actor, there’s no greater recognition for a performance, than winning an Academy Award, which has celebrated the year’s best films since 1929.

And for ones that have missed the mark, there’s the Golden Raspberry Awards, affectionally called The Razzies, which have recognized the year’s worst films since 1981.

Neither has been off-limits to the many pop stars who have turned to, acting.

Indeed, for every new-comer like Lady Gagawho is nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for A Star Is Born, there has been a Britney Spears, who was panned for her starring role in the coming-of-age drama, Crossroads, almost 20 years ago.

So to celebrate Gaga’s nomination, we scanned the Oscars and the Razzies to find some of our musical favorites who successfully used their singing popularity to movie stardom — as well as a few who fell flat.

The only eligibility criteria we used were they had a) to be known for their music before their acting and b) not be playing themselves – apologies to Spice World fans.


There are 26 singers and musicians who have received a total of 37 Academy Awards. Eight went on to win the coveted Best Actor/Actress Oscar.

A few of the first wave of pop stars to use their musical popularity to shoot for movie fame were heartthrobs from the ’30's and ’40's before we were around.  Some of the most popular such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland paved the way for today’s generation.

One of the first to do so was Bing Crosby, who received the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in 1944 musical Going My Way. He later received two more nominations, making him one of the most successful singer-turned-actor of all time.  Who can forget Frank Sinatra’s Best Supporting Actor in From Here To Eternity or Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz? On the other hand, we try to forget Elvis Presley who starred in 31 films, but in our opinion never made the transition from singer to movies. As an actor, he was a good singer.    

Among the successful singers who have been nominated for an Oscar is Will Smith – formerly of hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – who received Best Actor nods for Ali (2001) and Pursuit of Happiness (2006).

Cher, of Sonny and Cher fame, was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Silkwood, (1983)before winning Best Actress for her part in Moonstruck (1987).

Jennifer Hudson, parlayed her appearance on America’s star-making TV show American Idol, to musical stardom, to Broadway stardom, to Best Supporting Actress at the 2006 Academy Awards for her portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls.


Dramas account for 18 of the 37 films in which musicians have received an acting Oscar nomination – eight more than any other genre.

That total includes Mary J. Blige’s Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing Florence Jackson in post-war period drama Mudbound in 2017.

Unsurprisingly, the next-most popular genre is musicals with 10 nominations.

Diana Ross earned a Best Actress nomination at the 1972 Oscars for playing Billie Holliday in Lady Sings the Blues in one of four Biopics.


When a musician has been nominated for an Oscar, it’s typically for playing the leading role.

Of the 37 nominations, 23 have been for either Best Actor or Best Actress. Female musicians are more likely to receive an Oscar nomination for acting than their male counterparts.  59 percent (twenty-two of the 37 nominations have been for women).


Nine of the 37 Oscar nominees played musicians in the films they were nominated in – the most of any role.

The most recent example of this is Lady Gaga in the aforementioned A Star is Born.


Despite the above-mentioned successes, history tells us the transition from singer/musician to actor usually doesn’t pan out.

Thirty-five musicians have received 55 Golden Raspberry nominations between them, with 10 of those winning 17 awards.

The biggest offender on the list is Madonna, who has been nominated for eight Razzies – four more than anyone else – and coming away with the trophy for worst actress five times.

She has won three for Worst Actress and two for Worst Supporting Actress in films including erotic thriller Body of Evidence (1993) and Swept Away (2002).

Mark Wahlberg and Barbra Streisand are next on that list with four nominations each. They are also two of five musician-turned-actors to have been nominated for both an Oscar and a Razzie.

Liza Minnelli, however, is the only one to have won both.

She won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Cabaret before respective Worst Actress Razzies for Arthur 2: On The Rocks and Rent-A-Cop in 1988.

Yes, they were that bad.

Jazz musician Ahmed Best is the only musician to win a Razzie on their acting debut, having picked up the Worst Supporting Actor award for voicing Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).  It doesn’t seem fair, he didn’t even appear on screen, and he “won” a Razzie because the voters hated the character he played.


Comedies account for 19 of the 55 films in which musicians have been nominated for a Razzie – nine more than any other genre.

That total includes the unintended “comedy” Under the Cherry Moon, for which Prince received the 1986 Worst Actor award.

The next-most popular genre is drama with 10 nominations, followed by musicals (9), action (7) and thrillers (5).

Vanilla Ice was nominated for Worst Actor in Cool As Ice (1991) – a film that was later disowned by its own director.  That hurts.


As with the Oscars, musicians have been nominated for more Razzies in a leading role than a supporting one.

Of the 55 nominations, 34 have been for either Worst Actor or Worst Actress – accounting for 62 percent.

Female singers and musicians are, again, more likely to receive nominations compared to men.

Thirty-two of the 55 Razzie nominations have been for Worst Actress or Worst Supporting Actress, making up 58 percent.


Of the 55 Razzie nominees, 12 were playing musicians in the films which they were nominated – which, like the Oscar nominees, is more than any other role.

This section includes Mariah Carey, who won Worst Actress for her role as aspiring singer Billie Frank in Glitter (2001), which was named as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made in the Official Razzie Movie Guide. Ouch!

Three of the 55 nominees played dancers in the next-most popular role, including Chris Brown in 2014 box-office bomb Battle of the Year.

Brown was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in the film, which lost millions of dollars.


No column of winners and losers would be complete without special mention of the most successful singer to transition into the movies as well as the whole world of entertainment — Barbara Streisand.  Her singing ability paved the way to film, Broadway, and beyond.  Her awards include one Academy Award, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.


So as you watch the Academy Awards this year, consider Lady Gaga may become this generation’s Barbara Streisand. She obviously has the talent and the drive to make it happen.   

The research was provided by Betway