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Oct. 1, 2022

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Latino musicians hit high note in movies

Bad Bunny latest artist to jump into acting


Music’s top stars keeping hitting high notes on the big screen, too.

Bad Bunny is the latest Latino artist to make the jump from concert stages to coveted movie roles with his performance as a knife-wielding assassin in the new action-comedy “Bullet Train,” marking the chart-topping reggaeton rapper’s feature film debut.

He joins a fast-growing list of musical standouts who transitioned to acting in recent months, following fellow big names like Camila Cabello and Leslie Grace.

“I think he’s gonna have a huge career as an actor,” David Leitch, director of “Bullet Train,” told the Daily News of Bad Bunny. “Obviously, he’s an incredible talent and he’s a true artist. He can bring his emotions to the surface quickly, like he does in his music.”

The Puerto Rican-born Bad Bunny, who was Spotify’s most-streamed artist the past two years, will next portray the title superhero in 2024’s “El Muerto,” Marvel’s first Latino-led live-action movie.

The momentum took a hit this month when DC Comics’ “Batgirl” starring Grace was surprisingly shelved, but Grace appears poised for a bright future after earning rave reviews for her performance in last year’s “In the Heights.”

Here are more U.S.-based singers who went on to excel as actors.

Camila Cabello

The “Never Be the Same” singer’s life certainly hasn’t been the same since she made her acting debut as the title princess in Amazon’s “Cinderella” last year.

The film modernized the fairy tale with themes of female empowerment and a diverse cast led by the Cuban-born Cabello, and showcased the versatility of the chart-topping pop star known for the songs “Señorita,” “Havana” and “Don’t Go Yet.”

Desi Arnaz

Also born in Cuba, Arnaz quickly found musical success as the bandleader of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra after graduating from high school in Miami.

His band was a hit in New York, propelling Arnaz to a role in Broadway’s “Too Many Girls” and the subsequent 1940 movie adaptation co-starring Lucille Ball.

Arnaz and Ball fell in love and got married — then created one of the most influential sitcoms ever with “I Love Lucy.”

Gloria Estefan

The three-time Grammy winner was among music’s most illustrious singers for over a decade when she made her acting debut in 1999’s Meryl Streep-led “Music of the Heart,” and has appeared in several high-profile roles since.

The Cuban-born “Conga” crooner most recently starred alongside Andy Garcia in a Latino adaptation of “Father of the Bride” released in June, and last year voiced a key character in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s animated musical “Vivo.”

Ruben Blades

The 10-time Grammy winner has been similarly prolific as an actor, with more than 50 credits spanning nearly three decades.

His main role as Daniel Salazar on “Fear the Walking Dead” introduced the Panamanian-born Blades to younger audiences, but the “Pedro Navaja” singer-songwriter previously established himself as the star of the Robert Redford-directed “The Milagro Beanfield War” and as a character actor in films like “Predator 2.”

Trini Lopez

Known for timeless songs like “Lemon Tree” and his cover of “If I Had a Hammer,” the singer-guitarist landed a handful of film and TV gigs during the 1960s and ‘70s as well.

That included a role as one of the Army prisoners-turned-commandos in the World War II-set “The Dirty Dozen,” in which Lopez performed the song “The Bramble Bush.”

Becky G

After releasing singles like “Becky from the Block” and “Shower” as a teen, Becky’s career morphed with a leading role in 2017’s live-action “Power Rangers” in her feature film debut.

She’s continued to act since, starring in this year’s Machine Gun Kelly-directed “Good Mourning,” while regularly churning out Latin pop and reggaeton hits like “Mamiii,” “Ram Pam Pam,” and “Mayores” featuring Bad Bunny.

Leslie Grace

The Bronx-born Grace has a big following as a three-time Latin Grammy nominee, but told the Daily News last year that she was excited to take her career to new heights as an actor.

Her film debut came with “In the Heights,” an aspirational musical about a Latino community in New York’s Washington Heights.

“It’s a movie that I longed to see when I was a kid, to tell me that I could do it, and I could look exactly the way that I look, and be exactly where I’m from, and have parents and a family like the ones that I have, and accomplish a dream like this,” Grace told The News.

Marc Anthony

The three-time Grammy winner has acted intermittently over the past three decades, appearing in the Stanley Tucci-led “Big Night” in 1996 and starring as troubled salsa singer Héctor Lavoe in “El Cantante” 10 years later.

Anthony also had a supporting role in “In the Heights” and is featured on a song by Grace and Anthony Ramos written for the movie.


Big-name singers often lend their voices to animated films, including Ricky Martin, who performed the Latin American dub of the title hero in Disney’s “Hercules” and for a villain in “Minions.”

Latin pop superstar Thalia also dubbed a villain’s voice for “Minions,” and sang for Disney’s “Anastasia.”

Shakira portrayed a sweet-singing gazelle in “Zootopia,” while Colombian artist Maluma voiced a supporting character in last year’s “Encanto.”

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