Every Beyoncé Movie Role, Ranked

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Beyoncé’s concert film, Renaissance, is on everyone’s lips. The film chronicles the planning and execution of the pop star’s Renaissance World Tour, which began in Sweden in May and concluded in Kansas City in October 2023. So far, it has added plenty of zeros to her bank account, grossing over $20 million in under two weeks. Such a figure would be considered low for a scripted motion picture, yet it’s impressive for a documentary production about a musician.

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However, this isn’t the first time Beyoncé has pulled thousands of people into theaters. Even though she is mostly known for her singing prowess, she has starred in several movies in a lead or supporting capacity. And unlike other singers who became actors at some point in their illustrious careers, she never just did the bare minimum. Beyoncé put in the much-needed effort, and, as a result, she has had 10 acting-related award nominations to add to the hundreds she has received for her musical work. Here’s how her movie roles rank against each other.

9 Lilly — The Fighting Temptations (2003)

The Fighting Temptations follows Darrin Hill (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a New York City advertising executive, who loses his job and heads back to his hometown of Monte Carlo, Georgia, after being caught lying several times by his bosses. There, he vows to change his ways and revive the local church’s dying choir. While at it, he falls in love with the singer, Lilly (Beyoncé).

Why It’s a Good Role

The Fighting Temptations is a musical, so Beyoncé uses her singing talents a lot. Her voice shines above everyone else’s, and the fact that the soundtrack mostly consists of her compositions benefits her greatly. Regrettably, her character is restricted to the stereotypical “love interest” box, hence she never evolves. Lilly’s arc is completely driven by the actions that Darrin takes, so much so that her story ends with him proposing to her. Stream on Paramount+

8 Sharon Charles — Obsessed (2009)

In Obsessed, Derek Charles (Idris Elba), the boss of an unnamed financial company, finds himself in quite a dilemma when one of the employees, Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter), begins pursuing him. Derek happens to be married to Sharon (Beyoncé), and the couple are soon forced to deal with Lisa’s psychotic behavior as she does everything in her power to end their marriage.

Why It’s a Good Role

Obsessed lacks enough meat to qualify it as one of the greatest romance thrillers, yet the quagmire at hand is deep enough to keep the viewers interested. Beyoncé received a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress, but she and Elba have great chemistry in the film. Additionally, her character, Sharon, is very relatable. Society is full of stories about one-half of a married couple clashing with an outside party seeking to ruin things. By conducting herself with grace throughout the tense period, Sharon ends up being a very likable protagonist. Stream on Netflix

7 Carmen Brown — Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001)

Based on the 1875 opera, Carmen, Carmen: A Hip Hopera shifts the setting from Europe to Philadelphia and follows the budding actress Carmen Brown (Beyoncé) as she strives to win an engaged police sergeant’s heart. This was Beyoncé’s first-ever acting role, and the film’s cast includes popular Black entertainers like Wyclef Jean, Bow Wow, Jermaine Dupri, and Mos Def.

Why It’s a Good Role

Beyoncé can rap too, something she proved in Carmen: A Hip Hopera. Though she was still boxed into a damsel role, she impresses a bit more here, mainly because her character is in full control of her dating trajectory. Carmen is the one who seduces the lawman and also the one who gets to break up with him. Besides that, the inclusion of several musical numbers benefits Beyoncé greatly; she shines in each of them, leaving audiences wowed and yearning for more. Rent on AppleTV

6 Xania — The Pink Panther (2006)

A total of 11 Pink Panther movies have been made so far, each fascinating in its own way. The 2006 version of Pink Panther is one of the best, and it follows the iconic Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) as he tries to solve the murder of the France national team soccer coach and the theft of the Pink Panther diamond. Soon, his pop star girlfriend, Xania (Beyoncé), becomes one of the suspects.

Why It’s a Better Role

Xania is arguably a fictionalized version of Beyoncé (without Jay-Z), so the singer cruises through the movie effortlessly. Because Xania’s lover dies early, much of the arc is career-based rather than relationship-based, and that turns out to be a very good thing. Watching Beyoncé talk about a concert she is scheduled for in Europe, or a studio session she is late for, is fun. She and Martin play off each other beautifully, resulting in an overall fun film. Stream on Paramount+

5 Foxxy Cleopatra — Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

In Austin Powers in Goldmember, supervillain Dr. Evil seeks to destroy the world once again with the help of the gold-obsessed tycoon, Goldmember. To stop him, Austin travels back in time to 1975 where he teams up with the stylish and innovative law enforcement officer, Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé), to stop his archenemy’s plans.

Why It’s a Better Role

Many of the funniest quotes in the Austin Powers trilogy come from Austin Powers in Goldmember, and Beyoncé’s character has her fair share of comical dialogue. “You have the right to remain sexy,” she says before an arrest. And after receiving a compliment, she declares, “Yea! I am a whole lotta woman!” A composite parody of Blaxploitation heroines, Foxxy Cleopatra also has the fashion sense to back up her charisma, making her the most likable character in the movie. Rent on AppleTV

4 Queen Tara — Epic (2013)

Based on William Joyce’s best-selling children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, Epic follows 17-year-old Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) as she tries to protect a fantasy world populated by slugs and flower people. The film has a strong cast that includes Collin Farell, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, and Pitbull, with Beyoncé voicing the forest ruler known as Queen Tara.

Why It’s a Better Role

Tara is a kinder version of one of Batman’s most iconic villains, Poison Ivy. Like the Gotham botanist, Tara has the power of chlorokinesis, hence the movie uses her arc to emphasize the importance of environmental conservation. Whenever a villain destroys a part of the forest, Tara is quick to regrow the trees. Apart from that, Beyoncé perfectly channels the queen’s warmth and kindness through her soothing voice, and as an acknowledgment of her work, she was nominated for Outstanding Voice Performance at the Black Reel Awards. Stream on Hulu

3 Etita James — Cardillac Records (2008)

Cadillac Records is the biographical tale of Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody), the Polish-American immigrant who founded Chess Records and contributed to the birth and development of blues and rock and roll. Beyoncé plays one of Chess’ most influential singers, Etta James, who won six Grammy Awards and ended up getting inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Why It’s a Perfect Role

Beyoncé and the real Etta James are no different when it comes to artistry, so she was always the right person to play the character. In the film, she nails all of James’ vocal variations perfectly, leaving everyone wowed. James’ chaotic personal life is also analyzed in detail, giving audiences a better understanding of the inner demons that drove her creativity. For her wonderful performance, Beyoncé received NAACP and Satellite Image Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Stream on Starz

2 Nala — The Lion King (2019)

The Lion King remake in 2019 revived the discussion on whether classics ought to be left alone, but there is no denying that it trumps the original on a visual evel. The plot remains the same, with young Simba working to reclaim his rightful place as the ruler of the Pridelands after his uncle, Scar, murders his father. Beyoncé voices Simba’s childhood friend and adult love interest, Nala.

Why It’s a Perfect Role

Nala is much better here than she was in the original Lion King, partly because of Beyoncé’s wonderful singing (for which she received a Grammy nomination), and mainly because she is re-written to conform to the current feminist era and real-world big cat dynamics. In the normal world, lionesses do most of the work, so Nala outshines Simba on many occasions. For example, a subplot in which she escapes the Pridelands to avoid Scar’s tyrannical rule and seeks help is much better than the one in the original movie, where she is forced to leave because Scar banishes her after she rejects his marriage proposal. Stream on Disney+

1 Deena Jones — Dreamgirls (2006)

Adapted from the similarly titled 1981 Broadway musical. Dreamgirls covers the rise and evolution of R&B music through the experiences of a fictional Detroit girl group known as The Dreams. Beyoncé plays the group’s lead singer, Deena (based on Diana Ross), who finds herself in a romantic relationship with manipulative record executive, Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx).

Why It’s a Perfect Role

Beyoncé gives her most effortless and flawless performance in Dreamgirls, because the character she plays is very similar to her. As a former member of the girl group, Destiny’s Child, the singer understands all the little things that are required when it comes to performance and recording, and she channels them all here. The relationship arc that Deena Jones is given also helps highlight the hardships that women singers face in the music industry. Stream on Paramount+

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