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Six Best and Worst Singer/Actors


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
30 Monday 30th January 2012
We can't deny living in an embarrassingly egotistical era, where every two-bit celebrity reckons they're massively talented in several ways. Jennifer Lopez, with her 'fragrance-owning, fashion-designing, dancing-singer-actress' tag is just one case in point. 
Now that Zooey Deschanel's sitcom New Girl has hit our screens, I've got to thinking about the wannabe triple threats attempting to squeeze cash out of the public at every turn. And the conclusion I've reached? Most of them just aren't that good at it.  
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? besides killing yourself to this song
Let's start with Zooey, since she inspired this whole spiel. In her defense, she isn't actually a terrible actor, but her singing leaves a whole lot to be desired. Unless of course you love girls who manage to make a monotonous, barely enunciated mumble sound twee: at least we can admit that in itself is a gift. Here she is with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ruining New Year's for every Scrooge who's ever lived.
While Zooey may have earned her stripes in the acting arena first, it's often those who try to go the other way round that fall short of critical praise. Beyonce is a prime example, flat-lining in just about any scene where she isn't allowed to sing. 
Whether in Dreamgirls, that weird Pink Panther remake or her (we hope intentionally) racially offensive and one-dimensional role in Austin Powers in Goldmember she hasn't really managed to play anyone besides herself that well so far. Let's not even start on Obsessed (above) where she was cast as some overly emotional ghetto wife.
Ludacris playing a rapper, opposite Terence Howard in Hustle & Flow
Another American southerner we've found hard to stomach on screen is Ludacris. While his cornrows may be awesomely maintained, clearly his attendance at acting classes hasn't been quite as immaculate. His minor role in Crash was just about tolerable, but his part in the Fast & Furious franchise had us cringing. Ditto for just about any film 50 Cent takes a part in: unfortunately, no matter how many wife-beaters and guns you tote, acting takes a bit more than playing the gangster.
Mark Wahlberg back when he was Marky Mark and generally shirtless
All hope is not lost though, as Mark Wahlberg has proved in his pretty darn strong career so far. Though not everyone may remember him like this, he of course started off as a rapper, rocking low-slung and baggy Calvin Klein, backwards baseball caps and insane biceps. Some of that crossover appeal must have rubbed off on Ice T a little, when they co-starred in Three Kings in 1999; considering he's untrained this west coast rapper isn't half bad either.
Justin sneaking the odd comedy sing-song into Friends With Benefits
The key to being taken seriously in this tricky crossover is to avoid just playing singers. It sounds simple enough, but you'd be surprised how few vocalists in the past have paid attention to this (Mariah, we all know you wish Glitter had never happened).
Justin Timberlake surprised most critics with his pretty strong portrayal of Napster's creator Shawn Fanning in The Social Network. Since then, he's only really taken on roles that don't require him to break out in song, but rather rely on his ability to carry the scene. Yes, his years on the Mickey Mouse Club probably contributed to that but Christina Aguilera was in there too and her part in Burlesque is painful to watch (and she's breaking the "don't just play a singer" rule really hard).
Finally, on our little island Billie Piper's managed to convince people she's a real actress too. By taking on that Doctor Who role, then pretending to be a callgirl for a while, she distanced herself from her bubblegum pop beginnings and worked on her craft as an actor. From personal experience I can't say I've given much time to either show, but people seem to take her seriously so she can't be awful, right?  
Which other crossovers can you think of that have worked? And some that haven't? Drop us a line in the comments section.

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