Chart-toppers to Silver Screen: Pop Icons Transitioning into Acting


Planet Radio

A collage of Ariana Grande beside Harry Styles and Lady Gaga

Riley Emanuel, Editor

“Singing and acting are very similar. Singing makes you reach into your deepest feelings. Singing is an extension of everything that you do when you’re acting.” 

– Meryl Streep 

From the studio, to the screen. There has always been a lingering question as to why musicians turn into actors. The “trend” began as early as 1932, with Bing Crosby. Crosby was born in 1903 in Tacoma, Washington. He released his first song, “I’ve Got The Girl” in October 1926. In the Los Angeles times, an article was released which involved Crosby’s music career. They brought up how it didn’t matter what genre of music you thought he did, he had a huge influence on everyone who came after him. He then made a switch to acting in 1932 with “The Big Broadcast.” Ever since then, a variety of musicians have made that switch into acting. But then people tend to ask, why? For some people, it gives them another artistic challenge. Some do it for pure fun, more money, or to increase their profile in Hollywood. 

This change is something that has become more routine for performers in recent years. It just seems to be the next step in their career. More recently, different artists such as: Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Harry Styles have been doing that. Originally, Grande started out in acting. From a young age, she wanted to be a Nickelodeon star. Once she made her acting debut with “Victorious,” she slowly started branching out to singing. Technically, she went backwards compared to Styles and Gaga. As of 2023, the media sees her as a singer, but could she be an actress now? She released her first single over 10 years ago, with “Put Your Hearts Up.” Through the 2010s, she was noticed as Hollywood’s most famous POP singer. Grande released her last album “Positions” in 2020. Since then, she made a few comments on how she was taking a break from singing. As of 2022, she has been focusing on her brand, R.EM. Beauty, and has taken on the role of Wicked’s beloved Witch of the North, Glinda. Her casting in the new Wicked film(s) adaptation was announced in November 2021 via Instagram. It was also revealed she was gonna be performing alongside Tony award winning actress, Cynthia Erivo, who was casted as Elphaba. 

Grammy award winner, Lady Gaga, has done the switch multiple different times. She released her debut song, “Just Dance” in 2008. Since then, she has had a few roles such as, “The Countess” in AHS: Hotel, “Ally” in A Star is Born, and “Patrizia Reggiani” in House of Gucci. Coming up, Gaga is playing the female lead in the upcoming sequel to Joker. Even though she has a wider range of projects she’s participated in, she is still known as a singer/songwriter. Her last album was “Chromatica” which was released in 2020, this featured her hit song, “Rain On Me” which featured Ariana Grande. This song won her the POP Duo/Group award during the 2021 Grammys. The website Quora, released an article which discussed if Lady Gaga was pivoting into acting. Her fan base, which she calls, Monsters,” due to her album name, mentioned how she enjoys acting and people think she’s good at it. They continued by saying, she has great charisma and had acting chops that people didn’t begin to think about. Apparently, she wanted to be an actress before she dove into a singing career. She studied acting when she went to college and it was something she deeply enjoyed, according to Showbiz. 

Famous British singer, Harry Styles is more new to this than Grande and Gaga. He began his singing career as a part of a band called “One Direction.” The band was formed in 2010, which included: Nial, Liam, Harry, Louis, and Zayn. For five years, they released music together and it gained a lot of popularity and attention from teenage girls. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2015 when Zayn announced his departure from the band via Facebook. Shortly after, the band was put on hiatus. Since they went their separate ways, a worldwide meme was created making fun of their name and how once Zayn left, they all went in different directions. Styles quickly began his solo music career when he released “Sign of the Times” in 2017, a part of Columbia records. It didn’t take long for him to expand his horizons into acting. He was casted as “Alex” in the war/action film, Dunkirk, which was released in July 2017. Since then, he has been on top of his music career with small roles in films. His song “Watermelon Sugar” was a worldwide hit. In 2022, he released his album, “Harry’s House” which put him on the radar for the 2023 album of the year award at the Grammys. In 2020, it was announced that he was casted as the male lead in Olivia Wilde’s feature film, “Don’t Worry, Darling.” Once the movie was released, his performance was superb. Now, he was casted as another male lead in the romance film, “My Policeman.” 

At the end of the day, when singers venture into another field of performing, it gives them a new challenge. There’s nothing wrong with singer’s exploring a second choice career, but sometimes fans just get a little too curious about why their favorite artists are making that career switch. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to watch performers make their decision on their career in years to come.