• Industry

Jennifer Hudson, Zendaya and Jeremy Pope: From Music to Screen

Music has been a great jumping board for singers who segue into acting in Hollywood. Most of them made their first public appearance on the gospel stage as kids and blossomed into the mainstream global stage. From there, they spread their wings and also found success in the acting field.

We highlight three of the recent ones who are triumphing as singer-actors – Jennifer Hudson, Zendaya and Jeremy Pope.

Jennifer Hudson

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Hudson was only seven years old when she first performed in the Baptist Church choir.

Her life dramatically changed when she joined the third season of the reality TV singing competition, American Idol, in 2004, in Atlanta. She was 23.

Although eliminated during the “Top 7” show and criticized by then-judge Simon Cowell as being “out of your league,” Hudson was able to prove that she has what it takes to be in the big leagues. MTV listed Hudson as one of the greatest contestants in American Idol history.

After her finalist finish at American Idol, though, Hudson was cast in 2005 in the role of Effie White in the film adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls.


Slate raved about Hudson’s unforgettable performance of the role’s signature song: “Just when you think Hudson is done, she rears back and delivers another, yet more stirring, skyward-striving chorus. While the pathos of the song is immense, it is dazzling simply as a piece of vocal athleticism. And Hudson has managed to claim the song as her own in spite of the hugely intimidating specter of [Jennifer] Holliday’s original…The result is a cinematic diva moment for the ages: Even Judy Garland’s most iconic on-screen ballad performances seem small compared with the last lingering shot of Hudson, the camera whirling overhead as she blasts out a final ‘You’re gonna love me!’ In fact, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is a kind of summary of the great American diva tradition, our native answer to the grand opera aria-belters of the old world.”

That year, Hudson won both the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Best Supporting Actress.

Hudson said after winning her first Golden Globe, “I had always dreamed but I never ever dreamed this big. This goes far beyond anything I could ever imagine.”

Today, the 41-year-old singer-actress is one of only 17 elite talents who are EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) awardees.

On September 22, 2022, J.Hud, as she is also known to her fans, launched her TV talk show, The Jennifer Hudson Show.

In an interview with HollywoodLife.com, she stressed the importance of music in her life and how her musical background will be incorporated into her talk show.

She said, “I am music and music is me. It will always be a part of anything that I do, and it will always be present. It may be a word I heard or a subject and it may inspire a song and I may start singing. I’m not going to pull a mic from up under my chair. I want it to be more organic, more as an expression. And I’m quite random. So, you never know when it’s going to hit or I may want to lift your spirits and sing you a song or get you to sing a song. There will be instruments around – if you want to go to the piano, you want to bust a move? What do we need to do right here? I like to respond to the moment and read the room and the energy in it. It will always flow. Read the room and whatever that requires at that moment, we are going to let it ride.”


Born in Oakland, California, the young Zendaya loved singing, dancing, and performing as a kid.

She was a featured performer in the Kidz Bop music video in 2009 for the cover of the song “Hot n Cold” by Katy Perry and sang Michael Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone” for her audition in the Disney sitcom, Shake it Up, in the same year. She was only 13 years old.

She got her big break in acting in 2017 with her feature film debut in the superhero film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, as Michelle, the love interest of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe production. Later, she also appeared in its two sequels.


In 2019, she further made waves as an actress when she portrayed Rue Bennett, the drug-addicted teenager in the drama series, Euphoria. She was the youngest recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance, and this year she bagged her first Golden Globe Award for Best Television Actress in a Drama Series as well.

Zendaya, who was not able to attend the 80th Golden Globe ceremony, posted on her Instagram account: “I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to be there tonight, but I just wanted to say thank you to @goldenglobes for this incredible honor. To my fellow nominees, it is a privilege to be named beside you, I admire you all deeply. Thank you to my Euphoria family, without you, none of this is possible. Lastly, thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has allowed Rue into theirs. I think everyone knows how much she means to me, but the fact that she can mean something to someone else is a gift. I’m honestly at a loss for words as I type this, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. Goodnight.”

In an interview with ShowbizCheatSheet.com, Zendaya explained why she fell in love with acting. She shared, “Acting allows for a character for people to fall in love with. But it also gives me my own anonymity and a life of my own which music doesn’t really afford. Like I think when you’re a music artist, you just kind of have to be — it’s your face all the time. It’s you. So that’s another thing. That kind of scared me about music — is like not really being able to have as much of a life.”

Jeremy Pope

Jeremy Pope, born in Orlando, Florida, always had music as his first love. As a kid, he used to sing in church, theater productions and talent shows at Timber Creek High School and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

His self-written, first independent single, “Wait For You,” gained attention when he released it in 2015 on YouTube. Then in 2018, he released his second single. “New Love,” for which he also produced the music video in 2017.

Unknown to many, Pope also did cover music by several artists like Lady Gaga and Maroon 5.

In 2019, Pope got his big acting break when Ryan Murphy cast him in the TV miniseries, Hollywood, for which he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

This year, the 31-year-old actor received his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for his portrayal of Ellis French in The Inspection.


In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on the Golden Globe red carpet, Pope said of his nomination, “I am very grateful for my nomination and I am with my mom here. I am also excited to celebrate Ryan Murphy [as this year’s Carol Burnett Award recipient] for all the good work he continues to do. I call him the Master of Content.”

For his part, Murphy talked about Pope in his acceptance speech at the Globes and said, “And although he is very young, the achievements of Jeremy Pope astound me. From Orlando, Florida, Jeremy was also told growing up to deny who he was. But Jeremy refused to hide. He’s been nominated for a Tony Award twice in one year, was nominated for lead actor Emmy for my show Hollywood, and tonight, he’s nominated for a Golden Globe for The Inspection and then hopefully, onto a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

“Jeremy Pope is the future.”