While making hit records may have been their main claim to fame, for many musicians breaking into movies is definitely part of the bigger plan as well. Thus, we’re introduced to a hybrid category in Hollywood known as the musician-turned-actor.
Over time, many rock stars have taken on the double duty of filling arenas and movie theaters simultaneously. Of course, that rule also applies when it comes to cashing out on the small screen in the world of television.
We saw an example of that recently when global rap superstar Drake made a surprise appearance in the Season 3 finale of Dave on FXX, starring fellow emcee Lil Dicky.
The Views rapper is far from the first to make a guest spot on a show. Actually, the move has become a bit of a tradition within the past few decades when it comes to seeing the hottest artists on Billboard make cameos on hit sitcoms, teen dramas, crime thrillers and even lending their (non-singing) voice to an animated series. In the world of Black music that we love so much, fans have been treated ten times over by past and present melanated hitmakers who often double as profitable actors and actresses in their own right — even if just for one episode.
In an effort to celebrate Black Music Month from all angles this year, we put together a list of some of our favorite TV show cameos by Black musicians. No, not lead stars like Brandy, Eve or more recently Mary J. Blige, who each help spearheaded TV shows for multiple seasons. We also aren’t referring to musical guest spot like Stevie Wonder singing on The Cosby Show, or the many artists that swung by fictional hotspot Natalie’s as live performers on New York Undercover throughout the ’90s.
These selections are Black musicians who briefly displayed their acting chops as a one-and-done situation, in many cases leading to bigger TV and film projects altogether. Overall though, they each simply gave us memorable TV moments to binge back on.
Keep scrolling to check out 15 standout TV show guest appearances by some of your favorite Black musicians. Let us know if we missed any:
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1. Lauryn Hill, ‘As The World Turns’ (1991)
Character: Kira Johnson
2. 2Pac, ‘A Different World’ (1993)
3. The Notorious B.I.G., ‘Martin’ (1995)
4. Ray Charles, ‘The Nanny’ (1997 -1998)
5. Mary J. Blige, ‘The Jamie Foxx Show’ (1998)
Character: Ola Mae
6. Usher, ‘Sabrina The Teenage Witch’ (2002)
Character: The Love Doctor
7. Ashanti, ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ (2003)
8. Mariah Carey, ‘The Proud Family’ (2003)
9. Snoop Dogg, ‘The Bernie Mac Show’ (2004)
10. LL Cool J, ’30 Rock’ (2007)
11. Prince, ‘New Girl’ (2014)
12. Patti LaBelle, ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ (2014)
Character: Dora Brown
13. Alicia Keys, ‘Empire’ (2015)
Character: Skye Summers
14. Rihanna, ‘Bates Motel’ (2017)
Character: Marion Crane
15. Kendrick Lamar, ‘Power’ (2018)