Women are still fighting, pushing for equality in the music industry. You don’t have to look far for evidence of the gender disparity. In fact, less than three percent of music producers and engineers are women. Yet, despite the odds being stacked against them, women still create genre-changing and culturally crucial art.
So, in honor of women’s history month, we’ve compiled a list of women who could—and did—do it all. The women below are considered “Triple Threats,” meaning that they are critically acclaimed singers, songwriters, and actresses. Each one has left a legacy so significant that music and film would not be the same without them.
Read below for the inaugural list of the women considered to be Triple Threats, in no particular order.
Ra-ra-ah-ah-ah / Roma-roma-ma / Gaga, ooh la-la, Lady Gaga has been a cultural icon throughout her many artistic evolutions. From her debut record that included the synth-pop mega-hit “Poker Face” to her collaborative jazz record with Tony Bennett to her starring role in the biographical crime film House of GucciGaga is one of today’s most well-rounded creatives.
The Queen of Pop. The Material Girl. Madonna has helped to define popular culture, and occasionally, she was popular culture. While her hits need no introduction—“Like a Virgin”, “La Isla Bonita,” “Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Take a Bow,” “Frozen,” “Music,” “Hung Up,” and “ 4 Minutes”—her cinematic appearances also added to her legacy. Madonna had roles in several films including Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Dick Tracy (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), and Evita (1996).
Make way for another queen—The Queen of Christmas. Carey’s massively successfully hit, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” is a cornerstone of the singer’s career. The festive track, however, is by no means her only impactful work. Her portfolio as a singer/songwriter singing on a whistle register has garnered her the title of Songbird Supreme. Additionally, in the 2009 film PreciousCarey displayed her acting prowess and went on to participate in several other films.
Cyrus might’ve been born into a family of musical legends (read: father Billy Ray Cyrus and godmother Dolly Parton), but she’s proved time and time again to be an impressive force on her own. In the early 2000s, Cyrus got her start on the Disney Channel TV series Hannah Montana which launched both her singing and acting career. Since then, Cyrus has broken with her Disney persona but continued to pursue her career as a singer/songwriter/actress.
Gomez also rose to fame via a Disney Channel show (Wizards of Waverly Place) but quickly branched out. The “Lose You To Love Me” singer released three albums with her former band Selena Gomez & the Scene that were all certified gold, and her three solo records all charted on the Billboard 200. In addition to several other cinematic appearances including Ramona and Beezus (2010), Monte Carlo (2011), and Spring Breakers (2012), Gomez is currently starring in the Hulu mystery/comedy series titled Only Murders in the Building.
Dolly Parton is a living legend. Parton has famously written over three thousand songs with 25 of her songs reaching the number one position on the Billboard country music charts. The “Jolene” singer has also starred in several films, including 9 to 5 (1980), Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and is widely known for her philanthropy.
First rising to fame as the lead singer of girl group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has defined and redefined what it means to be a pop star. For her monumental work in music, the Houston-hailing artist is the most nominated and awarded singer in Grammy history. Additionally, in 2002, Beyoncé was the first Black woman to win the ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year award. She didn’t stop there, though. Beyoncé has also appeared in several films like The Pink Panther (2006), Dreamgirls (2006), and The Lion King (2019).
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Gen Z representative. Enter teen sensation, Olivia Rodrigo. The young megastar got her start on Disney Channel shows Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but soon had her music breakthrough with her debut single “drivers license.” Her debut album, SOURwas released soon after, and her fame was solidified.
Latifah (born Dana Elaine Owens) is, simply put, a pioneer of modern hip-hop music. Her debut album, All Hail the Queen, was certified Gold and includes the feminist anthem “Ladies First.” After the launch and continuation of her success as a rapper/singer/songwriter, Latifah famously appeared in several films. She even hosted her own daytime talk show for several seasons and one reboot.
Last but certainly not least, is pop/Latin powerhouse Jennifer “J.Lo” Lopez. After the launch of her acting career in the 1997 Selena biopic, Lopez went on to establish a successful music career. In 2001, the artist became the first woman to have both a number one album (J.Lo(and film)The Wedding Planner) in the same week. Lopez has without a doubt paved the way for many female, and her empire is still artists growing.
Madonna photo courtesy of Warner Music Group/High Rise PR
Beyoncé photo by Kevin Winter
Olivia Rodrigo photo courtesy of Dolby Laboratories