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Will ‘A Star is Born’ be the death of Beyoncé’s film career?

January 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Entertainment, News, Weekly Columns

( News that Clint Eastwood may direct Beyoncé in what would be the third Hollywood remake of A Star Is Born has traveled fast, with many speculating that this might just be the big break that Beyoncé’s acting career needs. It’s no secret that Mrs. Carter would love to one day win an Oscar. She’s long expressed that desire. According to the Los Angeles Times blog, Ministry of Gossip, in 2009, the “Bootylicious” singer informed Self in 2009 that “the thought of snatching that trophy motivated everything down to her fitness.” She told the magazine that she kept a painting of the Oscar above her treadmill as motivation, ‘I look at it, and I’m like “Ok, I have to stay in shape,'” she admitted.

Unfortunately the problem with Beyoncé’s acting career has nothing to do with the way she looks. Yes, she’s had box office triumphs. Obsessed, in which she played a dutiful wife confronted by her husband’s stalker, surprised many by debuting at the top of the box office, eventually generating over $73 million worldwide. Dreamgirls was to be her breakout role as an actress but, as we all know, Jennifer Hudson stole all of Beyoncé’s thunder, even landing the Academy Award the “Single Ladies” phenom coveted. And, while reviews of her Etta James portrayal in Cadillac Records were highly favorable, she didn’t carry the film. She played second fiddle to leading performances from Adrien Brody and Jeffrey Wright.

If this incarnation of A Star Is Born gets off the ground, Beyoncé will be the main attraction. All eyes will be on her. So far reports indicate that this installment of a film first birthed in 1937 will take its lead from Barbra Streisand’s 1976 version where a Grammy, not an Oscar, was the targeted prize. Given Beyoncé’s dominance in the music arena, she should ace this role. But, considering that most of her films have involved some element of singing, why hasn’t she already done so?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, when it comes to the big screen, the awful truth is that Jay-Z’s “baddest chick in the game” doesn’t have the natural chops. Some entertainers are triple threats: they can sing, dance and act. Beyoncé has nailed two out of the three and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But like us all, millions of fans and dollars can’t stop her from wanting what she doesn’t have. It’s great to have goals and just maybe Beyoncé has failed to rise to this challenge because she hasn’t had the right team behind her.

Clint Eastwood’s track record has been impeccable. Basically, almost every film he touches is Oscar-bound. To be truly honest, however, Beyoncé is far from being Hillary Swank. That doesn’t mean she can’t improve. After all, to use an overused cliché, practice does make perfect. Usually, however, there is a spark somewhere. Thus far, there’s been a lot of hard work on Beyoncé’s part but, again, the natural spark just hasn’t been there.

Good actors show up even in bad films. Take For Colored Girls, for example. Whatever issues some people had with the finished project, the acting prowess of true thespians like Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Thandie Newton and Kimberly Elise could not be denied. Beyoncé just hasn’t fared as well. Beginning with 2001’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera, the multiple Grammy winner has just never shined. To her credit, she has greatly improved. In Dreamgirls, she wasn’t Golden Globe worthy but she was decent in the limited role she was given. Media mogul Cathy Hughes even complimented the actress on her “nonverbal acting” during her 2006 spotlight on TV One on One.

For Etta James, she dug very deep and delivered a credible performance but was it a hint of Oscar-worthy talent? Is being decent good enough? Is Beyoncé a mega pop star because she can simply hold a tune? So why should we lavish praise on her for simply holding her own in any movie? That’s the very least any successful actor should do.

With Clint Eastwood reportedly in her corner, the opportunity to shut up naysayers like myself has finally arrived. If all goes the way the Texas native hopes, she will have more than a hit movie. After all these years, she will become that triple threat she desperately needs to be and A Star Is Born could be the gateway to make her one of the most legendary entertainers of all time.

Written By Ronda Racha Penrice

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