In show business today, while there is still something to be said for talent, marketability is what is truly important. Look at Miley Cyrus, there really isn’t a ton of talent going on there. She can kind of sing, and was a borderline capable young actress, but when you get right down to it, she’s marketable jailbait.
In short, marketability does for some what talent can do for others. Talent can make someone rich and famous and now more than ever, so can a marketable product. With that said, there are still plenty of talented performers out there. Beautiful movies with amazing acting are still made year after year. Popular music seems to get worse and worse but amazingly, life changing songs are still being produced. Talent hasn’t gone away, but in our current world it has become slightly more elusive. With that said however, there are some rare entertainers of today and of days past, who are gifted in more than one method of entertainment.
While just about every cute female actor these days seems to start some kind of singing career (from Hilary Duff to Vanessa Hudgens) and vice versa, most of what comes out of them is auto-tuned nonsense. In contrast however, here are fifteen celebrities who excel at more than one entertainment category and are truly gifts to their fans along with the industry.
15. LL Cool J
LL Cool J ranks among the best rappers in the history of the genre. Not only is he talented but he is also one of the first artists to achieve mainstream success as a rapper. Outside of his rap career, he has launched a clothing line, started a record label and has a rather respectable acting career. His most notable recent role is on NCIS: Los Angeles, but one of his first and most memorable roles was as tail-back Julian Washington, in Oliver Stone’s epic football movie Any Given Sunday.
14. Zooey Deschanel
We’re getting the cutest person on this list out of the way early so that the gents out there can concentrate through the rest of it. She’s one of the funniest female actors out there and after years of funny roles in various films and shows, she got her own show New Girl, which many would agree is one of the best on television right now. Off the big screen she has an entrepreneurial interest in the website hellogiggles.com, and is an accomplished singer, having contributed to multiple movie soundtracks and her own two person indie band She and Him. If you’re not in love yet, consider the fact that she looks like a slightly cuter Katy Perry.
13. Donald Glover
While he may be mostly known for playing the dopey but well-meaning Troy Barnes on the TV show Community, what some may not know is that Donald Glover is also a rapper who goes by the stage name of Childish Gambino. Much like his acting, his musical ability is enhanced by his own charisma and quirky personality. He was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2014; Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance. We think that’s quite impressive.
12. James Franco
James Franco is basically one of those guys who just never seems to stop doing stuff. There’s no eloquent way to say it, he just seems to make the most of every day. While his accomplishments may seem very impressive for such a young man, he’s actually 37 years old; he just looks like he’s in his mid 20’s. Along with his great acting career, he’s an accomplished painter and an academic, having achieved a PhD from Yale University and having taught classes at multiple schools, including USC and UCLA.
11. Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris is one of those entertainers who doesn’t seem to be bad at anything. Early on in life he was Doogie Howser, and his most famous role was probably womanizer Barney Stinson, on the show How I Met Your Mother. Outside of television though, he has achieved success on the stage, winning a Tony Award in 2014. In terms of vocal skills, any fan of How I Met Your Mother can attest to his pipes, having sang Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit. During the writers strike a few years back he also showed off his singing voice in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog with Joss Whedon.
10. Ice Cube
If you don’t think Ice Cube is one of the best rappers in the history of the genre, you may have been living in limbo for some time. His songwriting is the best that hip hop has ever seen and will probably never be matched. It Was a Good Day is one of the best feel-good songs ever written and just one example of Ice Cube’s trademark storytelling.
Outside of the world of rap, he has found success as an actor, starring in the Iraq War movie Three Kings, and other films ranging from family movies like Are We There Yet?, to action/dramas such as Boyz n the Hood.
9. Eddie Murphy
He started off as one of the funniest shock comics of the early 1980’s, but Eddie Murphy eventually shifted his career toward kids films. The films, including The Nutty Professor and Shrek (in which he played donkey), were funny and entertaining, but as an adult I find his early stand-up shows are among the funniest shows in the history of the art. Between the impressions of his inebriated uncle at a family cookout, to his hypothesizing about what Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of The Honeymooners would sound like as enthusiastic homosexuals, it’s all incredibly offensive but some of the funniest moments in comedy history.
Outside of comedy and acting however, Murphy has a very respectable singing voice and has built a small but notable career as an R&B singer, having released albums in the 80’s and 90’s.
8. Hugh Jackman
While the Aussie stud may be best known for his involvement as Wolverine with the X-Men franchise and of course Les Miserables, which earned him an Academy Award nomination, Hugh Jackman is a very well rounded performer. Off the big screen, he has achieved success as a stage performer throughout his career and has won a Tony Award. He is a gifted singer with an excellent, powerful voice and is also a trained and talented dancer.
7. Patrick Swayze
The late Patrick Swayze, who passed away in 2009, was one of the most renowned and celebrated actors of his time. Men enjoyed his tough guy persona in the original Red Dawn and Roadhouse, while women continue to drool over Dirty Dancing‘s Johnny Castle to this very day. Before he became a screen actor however, Swayze was a classically trained dancer, which obviously helped the authenticity of his role in Dirty Dancing. On top of dancing and film, Swayze knew how to sing, and wrote and performed She’s Like the Wind, a song associated with Dirty Dancing.
6. Gwyneth Paltrow
While most know Gwyneth Paltrow for her acting performances in Seven, Shakespeare in Love, and more recently the Iron Man trilogy, the American actress has also built herself a great singing career, having sang since 2000, and most recently having participated in many songs with the cast of Glee. It’s also very possible that her ex-husband, Coldplay front singer Chris Martin, may have given the mother of his children some exclusive singing lessons.
5. Christopher Walken
One of the most successful and lasting talents in the acting craft, Christopher Walken won an Academy Award back in 1978, for his performance in the Vietnam War film The Deer Hunter. He was a James Bond villain in A View to a Kill, and has starred in dozens of other movies, and of course has had memorable appearances on Saturday Night Live. In short, his acting career needs no introduction and is above evaluation, but he was originally a dancer. For more information on that, check out the video for the Fatboy Slim song Weapon of Choice. Walken dances through a deserted Los Angeles hotel and it is widely considered one of the best music videos ever made.
4. Justin Timberlake
While his early career with N’Sync earned him the disdain of nearly everyone who wasn’t a teenage girl, his solo career, acting ventures and comedic appearances have redeemed him in the eyes of many. Elevating himself from the level of “boy band singer”, Justin Timberlake’s solo work has earned him a great reputation as a songwriter and his recognition allowed him to try his hand at acting. His acting career has mainly involved comedies such as Bad Teacher and Friends with Benefits, but he played more serious roles in The Social Network and In Time. One of his best qualities has been the ability to parody himself, which he has demonstrated through his involvement with Saturday Night Live and The Lonely Island.
3. Jennifer Lopez
While many people like to refer to J-Lo as a diva, claiming that she is demanding and selfish, she’s earned it, and is one of the most successful entertainers in the history of the business. There’s no denying that she’s no longer “Jenny from the block”, but you’d change too if you earned hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dancing, singing, and acting are all entertainment media in which she has achieved renown and success. If she has a weak game, it would have to be acting, but she’s been acting for three decades, having participated in awful projects (Gigli) and praised works such as Selena.
While she may be mostly known for her singing, songwriting and for being an amazing entrepreneur, she’s a brilliant dancer and has achieved some success as an actress. Having started out with singing trio Destiny’s Child, Beyonce gave up that life of making millions to pursue success on her own and ended up earning hundreds of millions. She’s widely been called the most powerful woman in music but she ranks among the most powerful women in the world. While her singing and dancing skills have gone hand in hand for years, her acting career has been somewhat successful, despite participating in just a handful of projects over the past decade.
1. Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx doesn’t fail, nor has he ever done anything bad. He started out in comedy, with notable success with In Living Color. Later on he moved to acting. His best performances include “Steamin” Willie Beaman in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, Django Freeman in Django Unchained, Staff Sgt Sykes in Jarhead and of course, his greatest achievement, playing Ray Charles.
Outside of acting and comedy, he’s also a singer/songwriter and has a Grammy Award; having collaborated with Kanye West on Gold Digger. He truly isn’t one of those stars who picks up work for the sake of work; he surrounds himself with good people, puts his heart and soul into his projects and is a genuinely talented man, with a wide array of skills. Plenty of you will disagree with his being named as number one, but with success in comedy, music, television and film, he’s a master of all trades.