Multi-hyphenate madness: How interdiscplinary artists operate


Many may not know that apart from writing legendary songs like “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday,” Paul McCartney of The Beatles had a brief-but-illustrious career in abstract painting

Ryan Gosling was in a rock duo in 2009 called “Dead Man’s Bones,” performing under the eerie alias “Baby Goose.” Luckily, Gosling was able to musically redeem himself a few years later in the critically acclaimed “La La Land,” for which he undertook three months worth of jazz piano lessons.

There are plenty of famous names in the arts who dabble across different mediums. But, it takes unsurmountable levels of talent and mastery to hone the identity of an interdisciplinary artist. Success stories of interdisciplinary artists include Academy Award winners with vivacious vocals like Julie Andrews of “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” and Meryl Streep of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia.”  

Triple threats in popular music, acting and dance — like Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Donald Glover and Beyoncé — are trailblazers in each of their fields. The aforementioned triple threats are known to have amazing presence on stage and on screen, which is only possible after many, many hours of practice. 

With the recent resurgence in musical movies, actors have been molded to become singers behind the scenes. Welsh actor Taron Egerton, of the Elton John jukebox musical-biopic “Rocketman,” delivered a moving performance portraying the pop icon’s struggle with fame, sexuality, drugs and alcohol. Egerton has been receiving some Oscar buzz for his acting chops and was groomed by John himself when it came to singing for the film. 

“The Greatest Showman” showcased Disney Channel alumni like Zac Efron revisiting his Troy Bolton roots and Zendaya dazzling audiences with her acrobatics. The film’s star Hugh Jackman, a gem in Hollywood and on Broadway, recently received the Order of Australia for his plethora of contributions to and achievements in the performing arts.

The technical skill and dedication theatrical careers demand often generate successful interdisciplinary artists. Ben Platt is definitely a prime example of a famed theatre alumni. Platt, who originated the titular role in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” debuted his vocally brilliant and poignant album “Sing to Me Instead” this March. 

His sold-out Radio City Music Hall concert on Sept. 29 will be documented for a Netflix special. Platt also stars in Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix comedy series, “The Politician,” alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Lucy Boynton and Zoey Deutch.

Zendaya, a young fashion icon, recently exhibited her Tommy x Zendaya collection at New York Fashion Week. The fall collection, inspired by classic American silhouettes from the 1970s, was done in collaboration with designer Tommy Hilfiger and stylist Law Roach. 

Zendaya’s loyal fanbase has also been rooting for the actress to be nominated for an Emmy for her gut-wrenching performance as a struggling teenage drug addict in the Drake-produced HBO series “Euphoria.” Apart from deeply engaging with the show’s stunning cinematography, Zendaya also collaborated with singer-songwriter Labrinth on the show’s soundtrack in the haunting finale song “All For Us.”

Unfortunately, not every interdisciplinary artist is flawless at every discipline they attempt. Artists are often better off capitalizing on what they do best. But, executives may often think that artists with pre-existing positive reputations in one field can become rising stars in another, which is not always the case. 

Certain celebrities don’t always exemplify the "jack of all trades, master of none" trope. Although their nasal voices weren’t quite up to the standards of the music industry at the time, reality TV stars Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame during their peak presence on early 2000s television. 

Actress Priyanka Chopra, while a good singer in both English and Hindi, didn’t manage to make her mark on music with average pop songs like “Exotic” and “In My City.” 

Actor Jeremy Renner, known and loved for being Marvel’s Hawkeye, has a fairly recent and cringe-worthy singing career in some kind of country rock music. Needless to say, Renner’s vocals left his fans incredibly confused and sparked some hilarious reactions and memes online

Interdisciplinary artists are only able to successfully weave in and out of mediums after intensive training and with tons of professional help behind the scenes.


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