In honor of Queen Bey’s big day we’re highlighting some of her best acting roles so far!
Coming in at number 5 is Beyonce’s performance as soul singer Etta James in Cadillac Records. Although James lauded the portrayal and cover of her famous ballad, “At Last”, years later when Bey sung it at Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration Ball, Etta strongly disapproved. She claimed that Obama was not “her president” and even lamented at a concert reported by TMZ, “I can’t stand Beyonce”. However, not long after, James succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s disease, so may have been a factor in her reaction. In any event, fans went crazy over the captivating role and loved getting to see Beyonce in a short pixie hairdo.
Number 4 is the blonde afro wearing, butt kicking blaxploitation femme fatale Foxxy Cleopatra, whom Knowles-Carter played in the Austin Powers flick Goldmember. Modeled after Pam Grier in her 60s and 70s heyday, Foxxy Cleopatra roped us in with her fabulous outfits and no nonsense attitude. She was fearless and funny as she rescued Powers out of some pretty precarious situations, and I think we can all agree that she was just what the Austin Powers franchise needed.
Before Hamilton there was Carmen: A Hip Hopera, honey! It may not be the first character that comes to mind when you think of your girl ‘Yonce, but hardcore fans know all about this 2001 MTV hip hop opera. Sure, it was clunky and didn’t have the giant budget and polish of a theatrical feature film, but it was ambitious and completely unique. As in many projects, Beyonce was ahead of her time and y’all weren’t ready.
Debate all you want with me about number 2, as it was a TV role, but Beyonce’s turn as herself in Season 3 Episode 10 of Smart Guy gets me every time. First she’s charmed by the boy genius TJ, who dances in the Destiny Child’s video, but later she’s attracted to big brother and heartthrob of Black Girl World circa 1995, Marcus (Jason Weaver). The real sparkle of this part is when she admits to Marcus that she loves entertaining and the stage but she’s really just a regular ole country girl who misses hanging out with her friends and eating Thanksgiving dinner with her family. We get to see some real Beyonce here, and the authentic connection between both child stars is palpable.
It would be impossible to pick a number one role where Bey doesn’t sing, so Dreamgirls has to be it! As Deena Jones, Beyonce sings way below her ability to really allow Jennifer Hudson’s character Effie White to soar; but that just allows Bey the opportunity to light up the screen dramatically. Showing us the grit and tenacity it takes to make it behind the scenes in the music business, the Dreamgirls feature film reflects the dedication she’s shown in real life. The costuming is superb as we see her transform from quaint homemade dresses and performing in talent shows to lavish seventies icon style as the movie goes on. “Listen!” In Dreamgirls, Deena Jones is a character who doesn’t realize her strength and power until near the end of the film, and although her performance has been compared to Diana Ross,’ life she claims to only have pulled from the legendary songstress for inspiration. We loved seeing this on-screen transformation that highlights Bey’s acting skills enough for it to earn the top spot.
Here’s to a beautiful celebration of the life of one of the greatest entertainers in the world; we hope to see her on the big or small screen in the coming year. Happy Bey Day!