Hollywood Flashback: Beyoncé’s Big-Screen Stardom Was Founded on “Dreamgirls”

Playing Deanna Jones in the Broadway hit’s 2006 adaption solidified Queen B’s rise to fame in Hollywood. Her “Renaissance” concert video premieres on December 1.

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, which features the era-defining artist at the height of her creative abilities, will premiere in thousands of cinemas throughout the country on December 1. The film, which was filmed while she was on a fully booked Renaissance tour, is expected to release domestically at a cost between $17 and $23 million.

However, Beyoncé has already made films. The pop singer played the man-eating actress Carmen in Robert Townsend’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera, making her feature debut in 2001 alongside Mekhi Phifer. A year later, she made her comedic debut as Austin Powers’ sidekick Foxxy Cleopatra in Goldmember. However, Dreamgirls solidified Beyoncé’s standing as a major motion picture star. The Tony-winning Broadway musical from 1981 is adapted by DreamWorks to tell the story of the Dreamettes, a Motown ensemble that was somewhat based on The Supremes. Inspired by Diana Ross, Beyoncé plays the group’s meek yet tough lead singer, Deanna Jones. Originally, director Bill Condon planned to cast the three Dreamettes as unknowns. However, Knowles fiercely campaigned for the role, and following a successful She won the screen test. “Capturing Beyoncé and her brilliance in a moment in time — even if it’s one that represents just a sliver of her vast artistic life — was one of the great pleasures of making Dreamgirls,” says Condon.

Condon insisted on hiring an unknown for the part of Effie, which catapulted Jennifer Holliday into Broadway superstardom. 783 women applied for Effie in the end, including Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino, former American Idol contestants, Disney actress Raven-Symoné, and Community actor Yvette Nicole Brown (who was cast in a supporting part). Naturally, Hudson got the role and won an Oscar in the process. Eddie Murphy was nominated for Little Miss Sunshine by Alan Arkin, but he lost out to the actor who played James “Thunder” Early. As soon as Arkin’s name was called, Murphy reportedly stormed out of the event.)

Hudson and Beyoncé were complimented in THR’s review, which stated, “The sensation here is Hudson.” In the meanwhile, Beyoncé Knowles exhibits more style than is fitting for her persona.

Summary

Beyoncé’s “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” will premiere in theaters on December 1, featuring her in a film adaptation of the Broadway hit. The film, filmed during Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour, is expected to cost between $17 and $23 million domestically. Beyoncé has previously made films, including Carmen: A Hip Hopera and Goldmember. Dreamgirls solidified her as a major motion picture star, with her portrayal of Deanna Jones. Director Bill Condon initially planned to cast the three Dreamettes as unknowns, but Knowles won the screen test. Hudson won the role of Effie, while Knowles showcased more style than her persona.

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