Doing one thing well has its merits. No doubt about that. However, in the world of show business — and life in general — it is advantageous to cultivate other God-given skills. Multidimensional entertainers are impressive, and they are that much less likely to ever find themselves unemployed.
It is easy to see why Ne-Yo has cited the late, great SAMMY DAVIS, JR. as one of his four major heroes. Davis was an explosion of talent. He was born to entertain — singer, dancer, actor, impressionist, comedian and more.
NE-YO displayed his own versatility as one of the guest performers during the segment of the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors celebrating the amazing career of Barbra Streisand.
With the president of the United States in the audience, and Ne-Yo in his trademark brimmed hat, the R&B star delivered a Broadway-worthy rendition of one of the many songs associated with Streisand, “Lover, Come Back to Me.” He was fantastic.
Which brings to mind USHER, another of numerous young recording artists heavily influenced by the extraordinary (and versatile) Michael Jackson.
By 2006, Usher was an established recording star and had shown that he had acting skills as well. But he accepted a major new challenge — taking over the role of Billy Flynn on Broadway in the smash musical “Chicago.” He delivered. During his lengthy run audiences were dazzled, ticket sales increased and the reviews were positive.
It was evident during the years of Destiny’s Child — the second most famous female vocal group of all time, behind the Supremes — that BEYONCÉ KNOWLES was “destined” to become a superstar and possibly an icon.
We could have added “goddess” to those expectations.
Beyoncé, who has show business in her veins, has gone to the top and beyond. With a multitude of hit records to her credit and several movies (“Dreamgirls,” “Obsessed,” etc.), she is a sure bet for a lifetime career, in the tradition of great ladies such as Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle.
Beyoncé knows how to work it.
Speaking of multidimensional ladies, also out front is QUEEN LATIFAH. She emerged in 1990 as a top-selling rapper, but before long was showing the world that this was only a part of what she had to offer.
Today, Latifah is one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood, with a name that has marquee value. She won an Oscar nomination for her work in “Chicago.” And as if that weren’t enough, she has recorded two successful jazz-based albums that showcased her vocal gifts.
Another one to keep an eye on is NICK CANNON. Everyone knew he could rap and act, but little did we know he would be one of the most polished and well-liked TV show hosts. He is perfect as host of “America’s Got Talent” and is a contributing factor to the show’s ratings going through the roof every week.
Another gentleman currently doing a fine job of hosting a television show (“Let’s Make a Deal”) is WAYNE BRADY, a renaissance man of the arts — TV host, singer, actor, comedian, dancer.
The public first got to know Brady from his being a cast member on the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” that featured improvisational comedy.
Since then he has done too many things to mention here, including hosting a talk show that won two Daytime Emmy Awards and the singing game show called “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”
He also recorded a successful album, “A Long Time Coming.”
WILL SMITH has the distinction and honor to have starred or co-starred in some of biggest movies of all time, more often than not in the action/adventure genre. That includes “Men in Black,” “Independence Day” and “Men in Black II.”
However, a much smaller audience knew back in 1993 that Will Smith was a force to the reckoned with as an actor when he starred, along with Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing, in an unusual movie titled “Six Degrees of Separation.” His performance was amazing on many levels, not the least of which was having so many lines to remember.
But it was full-speed-ahead comedy with the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” with Smith and the rest of the cast providing plentiful laughs from 1990 to 1996.
Smith received an Academy Award nomination for “Ali,” the 2001 Muhammad Ali biopic.
LL COOL J has expressed his great admiration for Smith, no doubt in large part because Smith, like him, started out in rap/hip-hop, then branched out into acting, boosted by critical acclaim and impressive box office figures.
Currently, Cool J is co-starring with Chris O’Donnell in “NCIS: Los Angeles,” one of the hottest new TV series. His films include “Any Given Sunday,” “S.W.A.T.,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Deep Blue Sea.” His TV series, “In the House,” aired from 1995 to 1999.
These are just a handful of the many versatile entertainers. Expect them all to be around a long time.