Easy is the last thing to describe the journeys of Black actresses that have managed to make careers in both the worlds of movies and music. However, these Black actresses do both flawlessly. While some consistently stay booked and busy, others come around every once in a while and nail their performances.
Janet Jackson is one of the best-selling and highest-earning artists in music history, but her career began on-screen in the 70s. The award-winning talent was a star on the 1970s hit show Good Times. She later appeared in the dance series Fame.
After signing a recording contract with A&M Records in 1982, she released her debut album, Janet Jackson. Jackson followed up with her third and fourth remarkable studio albums. She then took control of her career and signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Virgin Records making her one of the highest-paid artists in the industry.
Jackson maintained her success and developed her own sound and influential style.
Former Miss USA runner-up Halle Berry broke through in Hollywood by starring in the film Boomerang alongside Eddie Murphy.
In 2002, Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress for her work in “Monster’s Ball.” Berry holds the title for the first and only Black actress to take home an Oscar in the top category.
Last year, the award-winning actress decided to follow her passion for music to partner with rapper Cardi B to release the 1st All-Female Hip-Hop Soundtrack. The collection serves as the soundtrack to Netflix’s upcoming film Bruised.
The career of Keke Palmer has been extremely successful. She’s maintained a remarkable career when it comes to acting, singing, songwriting.
Her Nickelodeon presence is still very prominent for her leading role in True Jackson, VP from 2008 to 2011. Palmer captured an even bigger audience when she starred in Akeelah and the Bee in 2007. Keke’s acting has been recognized for two NAACP Awards, the BET Young Stars Award, and a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy award.
Keke is another black actress who transitioned from acting to music. She’s released a handful of albums, including “So Uncool” in 2007, “Awaken” and “Awaken Reloaded” in 2011, a self-titled record in 2012, “Waited to Exhale” in 2016, and “Virgo Tendencies” in 2020.
Hudson’s acting career took off when she was cast for the role of Effie White in the musical movie Dreamgirls. She won the role over hundreds of professional singers and actresses, including superstar singer Fantasia.
Following Hudson’s success on Dreamgirls, she released her self-titled debut album, Jennifer Hudson in 2008. Hudson’s talent took her to commercial success, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200. The singer and actress released three studio albums and went on to star in award-winning movies including The Color Purple, Hairspray Live, and Sing.
Raven-Symoné began her career as a child actress, appearing as Olivia Kendall on The Cosby Show in 1989. In 2003, she starred as Raven Baxter on the Disney Channel television series That’s So Raven and was nominated for numerous accolades. Some of her other films include Dr. Dolittle, Dr. Dolittle 2, and The Princess Diaries 2, just to name a few.
Raven-Symoné effortlessly let her music talent shine after releasing her debut studio album, Here’s to New Dreams, in 1993. She went on to contribute her vocals to many Disney productions. In 2008, her self-titled album Raven Symoné hit the Billboard 200 chart in the United States.
Alicia Keys is also among the successful black actress that have mastered both the film and music industries. Keys made her on-screen debut as a child on The Cosby Show in 1985. She starred in movies including Smokin’ Aces and Secret Life of Bees.
By the time Keys was 15, she signed to Columbia Record. In 2001, she signed to Arista Records to release her debut album, Songs in A Minor. Keys’ debut album earned her five Grammy Awards, and you better believe her second album The Diary of Alicia Keys was packed with successful singles earning her an additional four Grammy’s.
Rising Black Actresses
While those are some very notable names, we’re always on the lookout for upcoming talent in the Black actress ranks. For those of you that are interested, check out what a rising Black Actress like Shana Solomon, who stars in the BlackOakTV original, “The Closet Bitch”.