Grammy Award-winning entertainer, Alicia Augello Cook who goes by the stage name Alicia Keys is best known as a singer, a songwriter, and a classical pianist. She came to fame as a singer with widely accepted singles such as You Don’t Know My Name, If I Ain’t Got You, Girl On Fire, Diary among several others. However, she is also an actress and has featured in more than a handful of movies and television shows with which she has built up a pretty decent filmography. Some of the movies that make up her filmography include Charmed, The Cosby Show, The Proud Family, Smokin Aces, The Nanny Diaries, and others.
The singer has had her ups and downs in the industry, therefore this article will examine Alicia Keys filmography – her best film & TV projects and also her worst attempts. The ranking will be based on the commercial and critical successes or failures – as well as audience reception – of the movies.
Alicia Keys’ Good And Bad Works as an Actress
The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
This 2009 winner of People’s Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic Movie is arguably the best movie Alicia Keys has ever starred in. It was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. Starring alongside Alicia Keys was Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Hilarie Burton, and Sophie Okonedo. The movie is an adaptation of a book of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd.
A young lady, Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) runs away with her friend and caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) to South California to learn more about her mother. There she meets three sisters who give her lessons on the Black Madonna (or Black Virgin), beekeeping, and honey. This movie was a commercial success and Alicia plays one of the Boatwright sisters Lily meets in California. It is not a favorite of the critics, however, it scored above average ratings. The audience showed their approval of the film with ratings such as 7.3 and 78% on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes respectively. It is considered a box office hit because, with a budget of $11 million, it grossed $39.9 million.
The Cosby Show (1985)
The Cosby Show is one of the most popular and successful television shows of all time and one of the most successful works in Alicia Keys filmography. It was broadcast on NBC and ran from September 20, 1984 – April 30, 1992. In the history of sitcoms, this series was one of the two series to be the number-one show for five seasons on Nielsen ratings.
The show centered around the family of the Huxtable, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable and their four children. This sitcom was said to have broken black stereotyping and left a legacy in the television industry. Alicia appeared on this television show when she was only 4 years old. It was well spoken of by critics and earned an 88% rating on TV.com. Also, it was scored 7.4 on IMDb, hence, the audience applauded it too. It grossed $2.5 billion on television revenue – $1.5 billion from syndication and $1 billion from advertisements. It is also known for receiving a couple of prestigious awards.
Smokin’ Aces (2006)
Smokin’ Aces is a 2006 dark comedy action movie written and directed by Joe Carnahan. It featured stars such as Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Andy García, Taraji P. Henson, Ray Liotta, and Chris Pine.
Set in Lake Tahoe and filmed at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, the movie is centered on Aces (played by Jeremy Piven), a magician turn mafia informant who has a $1 million bounty on his head. But while a lot of people are trying to capture him others strive to protect him. Alicia Keys plays Georgia Sykes, a female contract killer.
The movie was received with mixed reactions; while some critics found it entertaining, others thought it was repetitive and unsurprising. The audience scored it above average with ratings such as 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.7 on iMDb. Also, it was a commercial success, grossing $57.3 million in sales worldwide on a production budget of $17 million.
The Nanny Diaries (2007)
The Nanny Diaries is a comedy-drama adapted from a novel of the same name written by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Its screenplay was written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Cast alongside Alicia Keys was Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Donnie Murphy, and Laura Linney.
Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) takes up a job as a Nanny for a wealthy but dysfunctional couple with a spoilt kid. She has to find a way to combine school, work, and a new boyfriend. Alicia Keys plays the role of Lynette.
The movie was received with mixed reactions with many saying it had nothing new to say. It was rated 51% on Rotten Tomatoes as per its audience approval and 6.2 on iMDb. It was, however, a commercial success grossing $47 million in worldwide sales.
The Backyardigans (2006)
Alicia Keys filmography has a couple of animated movies and the 2004 animated TV series is one of them. The Backyardigans is an animation that ran for over 10 years and was the favorite of many children around the world. It was an entertaining and musical cartoon with smooth and clean CGI animation and likable and realistic characters. It was created by Janice Burgess and written and recorded at Nickelodeon Animation Studio.
Alicia Keys played the role of Bionga’s mother and worked with the likes of Jonah Bobo, LaShawn Tináh Jefferies, Sean Curley, and Jake Goldberg. The film was about four animated character friends who had wide imaginations. They would go to their background and pretend to go to the places in their imaginations.
This animation was received with mostly warm and positive reviews from critics. On IMDb, it was rated 6.8 by the audience and 7.9/10 on TV.com. Nothing is known of its financial success or records.
American Dream (2003)
American Dream is a television series that premiered on September 29, 2002, and ended after three seasons comprising 61 episodes on March 30, 2005. It starred the likes of Brittany Snow, Tom Verica, Gail O’Grady, Will Estes, Sarah Ramos, Ethan Dampf, Jonathan Adams, and Arlen Escarpeta.
The show is generally centered on a Philadelphia Pryor Family in the mid-1960s. Some of the film’s subplots were based on a teenage Meg Pryor. It featured some popular contemporary musicians who posed as musicians of the 1960s and this is where Alicia Keys comes in. This television show had a high audience approval and applause with ratings such as 7.5/10 from over 2000 voters on IMDb and 8.7 on TV.com. Records of its commercial viability have not been made available online.
Charmed is an American fantasy television series that ran from October 7, 1998 – May 21, 2006. It originally aired on The WB and ran for 8 seasons which consisted of 178 episodes. It was written by Constance M. Burge. Alicia Keys starred in a minor role in Season 4, Episode 5 alongside the main characters Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, T.W. King, Dorian Gregory, Greg Vaughan, and Karis Paige Bryant.
Three sisters discover that they have magical powers soon after their mother’s death. They use their powers for good, protecting innocent people from demons and warlocks. They are however faced with balancing their power with their ordinary lives. Information about the movie’s commercial viability is unknown until this time, however, it was received warmly by the audience as seen through their 7.2 and 8.7 ratings on IMDb and TV.com. Critically, it was received with mixed reactions. 27 critics rated it at 62/100 on Metacritic.
Empire (2015 – 2016)
Empire is a television series written and directed by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. The series is jointly produced by Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television. It began airing on Fox Channel on January 7, 2015, and Alicia Keys made cameo appearances in 3 episodes of the second season. Among its cast are renowned actors such as Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, among a host of others.
Popular among the black community in America, Empire is a musical drama about a music record label known as Empire ran by ex-convicts Lucious and Cookie Lyon and their 3 sons – Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem. The series explores their lives personally and professionally. Alicia Keys played the role of a guest singer and mentor Skye Summers who sang alongside Jamal (Jussie Smollett) in season 2.
Empire is critically acclaimed with high critic ratings for all its seasons. It had received mostly positive reviews on several review platforms. It is however averagely applauded by the audience as seen through their 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the 6.6 scores on TV.com. Its commercial success is not certain.
The Proud Family (2005)
The Proud Family is an animated sitcom that ran from September 15, 2001, to August 19, 2005, on Disney Channel. It aired for two seasons with a total of 52 episodes and was widely loved and accepted by the African American community. It was created by Bruce W. Smith and was developed by the creator with the help of Doreen Spicer. It featured stars such as Kyla Pratt, Tommy Davidson, Paula Jai Parker, Jo Marie Payton, and Tara Strong, among others.
The animation revolves around the life of Penny Proud, a young teenager who seeks to gain independence and is faced with normal teenage experiences in high school. Alicia Keys voiced herself in the 46th episode of the third season. The level of its commercial success is unknown, however, it was received with mixed reactions from the audience hence the little-above average ratings. On IMDb, it was scored 6.6/10 and 7.9/10 on TV.com. It was received with largely positive reviews from critics.
Jems and the Holograms (2015)
Jems and the Holograms is arguably Alicia Key’s worst movie so far. The animation was released in 2015 with Ryan Landels as its writer and Jon M. Chu as its director and producer. The movie was a complete failure on all fronts. Alicia Keys made a cameo appearance in the film as herself.
Despite having great actors including Dwayne Johnson on its cast, the movie didn’t live up to the standard of the critics hence its low ratings. The audience approval rating was at 40% and 4.1 stars on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb respectively while it grossed only $2.3 million at the box office against a budget of $5 million.