I know that Whitney Houston died a few weeks ago, but I feel like I’m really coming to terms with it now. See, I finally got cable. My array of channels means I can watch The Bodyguard at pretty much all hours of the day thanks to Lifetime, TNT, TBS or any other channel with programming that boasts the ability to watch a movie fives times in one weekend. I hadn’t seen this movie in over 15 years, but I now remember why I was so obsessed with it – the popstar crossover. Whitney killed it as Rachel Marron. Sure, she was essentially playing a version of herself, but as Mariah and Christina can attest, that’s harder than it seems. Below is a list of ladies who did the popstar/actress label proud on the silver screen.
Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice
Janet Jackson’s Janet was pretty much my personal soundtrack for most of 1993. I obsessively watched the ‘If’ video, learned her dance moves and even started wearing tribal chokers. So when Ms. Jackson made her film debut in John Singleton’s Poetic Justice, I begged my mom to take me. Thank God she refused – more because she had no interest than because I was 9. I ended up seeing it the following year at a sleepover, and I realized that the graphic violence, language and sex would have made for quite the awkward mother-daughter movie date. Janet stars as Justice, a hairdresser/poet (clever title, huh?), who is trying to get over the murder of her boyfriend. Enter Tupac as Lucky, a postal worker who has a daughter and a serious thing for Justice. Maya Angelou even pops up as (what else?) a wise, older woman. A roadtrip from hell nearly derails Justice and Lucky’s romance before it begins, but given that movie’s featured song was Janet’s ‘Again,’ you can guess what happens. This movie was Janet Jackson’s film debut, and I don’t know that she’s topped it – even with The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.
Madonna in A League of Their Own
I know Desperately Seeking Susan came first, but A League of Their Own is hands down the best Madonna movie. I’m not even going to say it’s her best movie “in my opinion”, because I feel it’s just accepted fact. A lot of the women I know in their mid to late 20s list this movie among their all-time favorites. Why? Because it’s AWESOME. Yeah, Kit absolutely sucks, but the rest of the movie more than makes up for it. From Dottie’s gymnastic catches to Jimmy’s tirade about no crying in baseball to everything about Marla Hooch, this movie struck the perfect balance of humor and heart. That scene where Betty Spaghetti learns about losing her husband in the locker room still reduces me to tears every single time. However, the best part of this movie for me, the real embodiment of that humor and heart balance, is Madonna as ‘All The Way’ Mae. Who didn’t want to learn how to swing dance after seeing her tear it up at the Suds Bucket? Mae is sassy and sexy, but also sweet. I didn’t see anyone else teaching Shirley to read at the back of bus. Sure, she’s using erotica as a textbook, but what does it matter? She’s reading.
Beyoncé in Obsessed
Now I’m guessing that some people might be saying, “What about Dreamgirls or Cadillac Records?” To those people, my only response is “Have you seen Obsessed?” This movie is amazing. It is pretty much the phrase “Oh, hell no” as a feature film. Beyoncé stars as Sharon, the new mom and wife to Stringer Bell’s Derek. Sharon and Derek are the picture perfect couple until Ali Larter enters as Derek’s temp and eventual stalker. Even if you aren’t into the Fatal Attraction-esque plot, I swear the movie is worth it just to hear Beyoncé say lines like, “You think you know crazy? I’ll show you crazy. Just try me, bitch!” And does Beyoncé ever deliver on that promise with an epic final fight scene. Beyoncé can sing, dance and most importantly, beat the living s**t out of anyone trying to steal her husband.
Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias
Technically, Dolly isn’t exactly a popstar, but good God, I love that woman. She’s not only the queen of country music, she’s one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the last 100 years. Dolly might have won critical acclaim for her portrayal of Doralee in 9 to 5, but she won my heart in Steel Magnolias. Her turn as Truvy Jones, beautician and confidante extraordinaire, proves to me that this woman can do anything.
Clearly, there is no shortage of ladies who are looking to put that slash in their job title. However, I feel like Whitney set the bar high and only few have matched her. I hope more and more popstars keeping reaching for movie star status, though. If nothing else, at least you know the soundtrack will be sick.
Images via IMDB