Music Notes: Double Threats

Written by Jason P. Woodbury Category: Arts Issue: July 2018
Group Free

5 Artists Who Act and Sing

photo by Wiki Commons; Jared Leto performing in Padua, Italy, in July 2013Jared Leto
On America, the fifth album from rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, bandleader Jared Leto explores our national obsession with celebrity. He knows a thing or two about it. Since breaking into professional acting with early roles in Fight Club and American Psycho, Leto has emerged as a major name in Hollywood, earning accolades for his work in Dallas Buyers Club and a dedicated cult following with flicks like Requiem for a Dream and Suicide Squad. But he’s played music the whole time with his band, which formed in 1998, has sold millions of albums and was hailed by Kerrang! magazine as one of the best bands of the 2000s. In advance of Thirty Seconds to Mars’ upcoming stop at Ak-Chin Pavilion on July 22, we run down five more double-threat talents.

Jennifer Lopez
Lopez first earned attention as a Fly Girl on In Living Color, but her breakout role was portraying late Tejano music sensation Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in 1997’s Selena. She’s balanced music with film and TV ever since. Though her movie career hit the skids after the disastrous Gigli, she’s cautiously returned to the silver screen with movies like the much-made-fun-of The Boy Next Door and a recurring judgeship on American Idol, proving she’s better qualified as a pop diva. 

Will Smith
The Philadelphia-raised Smith spent the ’80s making effervescent hip-hop with DJ Jazzy Jeff, but in the ’90s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air made him a national icon. Movie roles followed: He’s beat up aliens in Independence Day and Men in Black and earned Academy Award nods for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness. Though he hasn’t released an album since 2005, his offspring Jaden and Willow Smith have both made waves for their arty R&B and hip-hop.

Donald Glover
Forget double threat. Glover writes, acts and sings. The Solo: A Star Wars Story actor moved from the writers’ room at 30 Rock to on-screen work on Community, standup comedy and his own genre-defying series, Atlanta, all while making adventurous funk and hip-hop under the name Childish Gambino.

Justin Timberlake
JT started with *NSYNC, but it didn’t take him long to break into acting. He’s practically a regular on SNL, but his appearances in The Social Network and Inside Llewyn Davis prove he can play serious, too.  

Tom Waits
The gravel-throated Waits is an icon of experimental blues and roots music, but he’s also worked with auteurs like Jim Jarmusch, lending his weirdo gravitas to the art house classic Down by Law; Robert Altman, for whom he starred in the ensemble film Short Cuts; and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri director Martin McDonagh, giving his sandpaper sardonicism to the black comedy Seven Psychopaths.