It’s not uncommon to see music artists putting down the mic in exchange for scripts and acting credits. Out of all the musicians who followed that Hollywood blueprint, only a select few have managed to excel in both industries.
Check out our list of musicians who went from melody masters to elite actors.
1. Will Smith
Will Smith set the blueprint for musicians trying their hand at acting. Billions of dollars in box office sales later, Big Willy is still the blockbuster king. He also has the bragging rights of being the first rapper to win a Grammy.
2. LL Cool J
Ladies weren’t the only ones that loved LL Cool J. James Todd Smith is still known as one of the forefathers of hip hop music. But in the early 2000’s, he gave up his microphone for TV and film scripts, reinventing his legacy for generations to come. Today’s kids may know him as “that guy that hosts Lip Sync Battle.
3. Ice Cube
Ice Cube took his film dreams to another level after he split with N.W.A back in 1989. The South Central icon started out with roles in films like “Boyz In The Hood,” but found himself wanting to be more behind the camera than in front. Cube made his directorial debut in 1998 with “The Players Club” and hasn’t looked back since producing iconic films like Friday, Ride Along and Straight Outta Compton to name a few.
4. Tupac Shakur
Tupac was one of music’s most profitable artists with number one albums like All Eyez On Me. Pac made his acting debut in Juice and went on to star in films like Poetic Justice, alongside Janet Jackson, and Above the Rim. Tupac’s was on the brink of Hollywood stardom before his untimely passing in 1996, but he will forever be remembered as a legend.
5. Diana Ross
Diana Ross earned her title as a queen in both the music and film industries. Her role as Billie Holiday in 1972’s “Lady Sings the Blues” took Ms. Ross’s career to another stratosphere. Playing the first Black Dorothy in “The Wiz” was also no small feat.
T.I. had already established himself as the King of the South by the time he caught the acting bug. After his 2006 debut in the film “ATL”, Tip has been making waves on the big screen ever since starring in films like Takers, Ant-Man and Sleepless, along with a hit Reality TV series called T.I and Tiny: The Family Hustle.
7. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah can literally do it all. It didn’t take long for her to show off her acting skills after taking over the hip hop scene in 1988. She had a small role in Spike Lee’s 1991 classic, “Jungle Fever,” and has starred in (and produced) several classic films since then with her team Flava Unit. She was nominated for an Oscar in 2003 for her role in Chicago, and won two Emmys for playing Bessie Smith in the film.
8. Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake’s transition from Mouseketeer to NSYNC frontman to chart-topping solo artist who has worked with the likes of Timbaland and Jay Z to, finally, actor was an interesting one to watch. Not only did he manage to shine on the stage as a musical artist, he took that same charisma to his acting career and blew fans away in films like The Social Network and Friends With Benefits, JT is the real definition o
9. Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz takes his acting so serious that you never really notice it’s him in a film until you see the credits. Remember when Precious had everyone asking, “Is that Lenny Kravitz?” Other roles he has “disappeared” in to include The Hunger Games and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
Luda knows just the right roles to take on to establish himself as a serious actor. From the 2005 Oscar nominated film Crash to his performance in Hustle & Flow and, of course, his longstanding role in the mega-blockbuster franchise The Fast & the Furious, Chris Bridges is known for winning over his critics and the box office.
11. 50 Cent
50 has been known for his charismatic persona since the moment he exploded onto the hip hop scene in 2003 with his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin, and over the past 20 years has successfully translated those skills into an acting career. As his passion for acting developed, he even proved his dedication by having many of his tattoos removed and using his given name, Curtis Jackson, on the screen.
Ice was one of the first emcees to try his hand at acting. After over 30 years in the game, the West Coast legend is known more for his role as “Fin” on Law & Order: SVU than his gangsta rap life. Ice-T even won an NAACP Award in 1996 for his work on “New York Undercover”.
13. Method Man
Method Man went from hip hop legend to sought after Hollywood actor. After the success of Belly in 1998, the M.E.T.H.O.D. man hasn’t slowed down yet. We’re seen him on the acclaimed series like The Wire, The Breaks and Rebel, as well as in movies like Keanu. Word to Wu Tang.
14. Yasiin Bey
The artist formerly known as Mos Def most definitely has the talent to be successful at whatever he chooses to do in life. Luckily for us, he chose to share his wisdom through hip hop and his genius through acting. Who can forget his epic portrayal of Chuck Berry in “Cadillac Records”?
A storyteller from the moment he picked up the mic as a pioneering rapper on Chicago’s hip hop scene, Common is now as well-known as an actor as he is a musical artist. His resume includes blockbusters like John Wick 2, American Gangster and Wanted, as well as independent films, live productions such as The Wiz Live! on NBC and television shows like Girlfriends and Hell on Wheels. Nothing common about this rap-tor.