Primarily known as the most popular R&B singer of the late '90s and 2000s, Beyoncé Knowles has come to be known simply as Beyoncé. Only a few years after establishing herself in the popular consciousness as the new queen of R&B, Knowles was ready to expand beyond her immeasurable voice and larger-than-life stage presence. She set her sights on a movie career, first getting her acting feet wet at the age of 20 with the logical transitional project Carmen: A Hip Hopera, a modern-day version of the Bizet opera Carmen, produced by MTV in 2001.
Knowles soon made the transition to the big screen, spending the early 2000s alternating between comedy and projects rooted in her primary interest in music. She made her feature-film acting debut in 2002 with the blaxploitation-parody role of Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember, bringing exuberance to her over-the-top sight gags and Pam Grier-type dialogue. Having made her transition to film without disaster, Knowles next accepted a role in the 2003 low-profile musical comedy The Fighting Temptations, starring opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. Returning to comedy in 2006, the starlet unfortunately ended up with a dud, as the attempted revival of the Pink Panther franchise was a critical disappointment. Co-star Steve Martin was not well received in the role of Inspector Clouseau, made famous by Peter Sellers, but Knowles walked away from the project relatively unscathed.
Continuing her pattern, Knowles opted next for another musical film -- and this one would be by far the biggest of her career. She was cast in Dreamgirls, the highly anticipated big-budget screen adaptation of the popular Broadway musical -- providing a chance for her to stretch both her singing and acting abilities to the limit. She would be playing Deena Jones, the character based on Diana Ross in this film à clef about Motown girl group the Supremes. It was hard not to notice how Knowles (the greatest diva of her time) was playing Ross (greatest diva of her own time), who had, in turn, played Billie Holiday (the greatest diva of her own time) in Lady Sings the Blues. Ensuing buzz seemed to overshadow Knowles with excitement over the breakthrough performance of co-star Jennifer Hudson, but when the 2006 Golden Globe nominations were announced, both actresses were nominated -- Knowles for Best Actress and Hudson for Best Supporting Actress. Hudson ended up taking home the statuette, while Knowles lost hers to Meryl Streep, but the young diva remained gracious and undaunted. ~ Cammila Albertson, Rovi