We’ve had singing actors and acting singers. Then there are the occasional stars who blur lines by being exceptionally yet equally good at both.

Researchers have attempted to find the correlation between singing and acting, perhaps inspired by the award-winning likes of Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, and their predecessors.

A 2007 VCU study reads: “Singers and actors are one and the same; they are storytellers. Yet, to the detriment of both groups they are often trained in completely different ways. Singers are expected to be pleasant to listen to; therefore, their education usually emphasizes vocal technique and quality. Actors, who do not necessarily need to be preoccupied with sounding pretty, are taught to use their voices to effectively portray characters in their storytelling.”

In any case, it doesn’t take rocket science to realize that singing and acting have many parallels and intersections. The few who have mastered both are born performers who merely learned to unlock the door between the two fields.

Meet these multi-talented celebrities who have surprised Filipinos with more than one trick up their sleeves: effectively transitioning from singing to acting.


Abra made his few acting credits count by top-billing the 2017 film Respeto, which won Best Film and the Audience Choice Award, among other accolades, at the 13th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

He was a natural, drawing from his experience as a FlipTop Battle League emcee to convey the protagonist’s burning desire to prove himself in the underground hip-hop scene.

The multi-award-winning rapper really made it convincing that his character couldn’t pull off a freestyle verse without going off-rhythm or plagiarizing someone else’s work.

Marc Abaya

Marc Abaya was the original lead vocalist and guitarist of Sandwich in 1998, before later forming his own band Kjwan in 2003. He remained visible in the local music scene by VJing for MTV Philippines, hosting various rock programs, launching U92 FM, and later collaborating with Gloc-9 for “Tsinelas Sa Putikan.”

Although he’s the son of accomplished filmmakers Manolo Abaya and National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Marilou Diaz-Abaya, the musician only entered acting in his 30s.

Abaya’s notable work includes Dagim, where he won Best Supporting Actor at the 2010 Cinema One Originals Film Festival, and Sundalong Kanin, which won the Audience Choice Award at the 2014 Cinelaya Independent Film Festival on top of a Movie Supporting Actor of the Year nod for him at the 2015 Star Awards for Movies. More recently, he struck a chord with Filipino audiences through his Kapamilya comeback performance in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.

Nora Aunor

Nora Aunor began as a singer after emerging as the 1967 Tawag Ng Tanghalan champion at 14 years old. Her winning song was a moving rendition of the classic “Moonlight Becomes You.”

It was her acting career, however, that would come to define her legacy by earning her the popular title of “Superstar” and later as a National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts.

She is the most-nominated actress in Gawad Urian Awards history and is a FAMAS Award “Hall of Fame” inductee, known for films like Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, Himala, The Flor Contemplacion Story, Thy Womb, and Dementia, among many others.

Sharon Cuneta

Sharon Cuneta recorded the 1978 song “Mr. DJ.” when she was only 12, launching her singing career that grew to have over 40 albums including multiplatinum records. She has since received lifetime achievement awards from the MOR Pinoy Music Awards and the Philippine Association of Recording Industry.

The Megastar, however, became a record-breaking box office queen with a slew of blockbusters under her belt, such as the career-defining 1985 film Bituing Walang Ningning.

A decade later, the 1996 film Madrasta earned Cuneta the Best Actress titles of all the major Philippine award-giving bodies, namely the FAMAS Awards, the FAP Awards, the Gawad Urian Awards, and the PMPC Star Awards for Movies.

Sarah Geronimo

Sarah Geronimo was discovered through Star For A Night, a singing contest that she won at the age of 14. Her prize was a P1-million cash prize and managerial contract, launching her multiplatinum recording career.

Everyone knew of her vocal prowess, but the public only got to see her lead acting chops when she co-starred with John Lloyd Cruz in the film series A Very Special Love.

The second installment, You Changed My Life, secured her a FAMAS Award for Best Actress nomination, while It Takes A Man And A Woman became her biggest commercial success to date as one of the highest-grossing films in the Philippines.

Rachelle Ann Go

Rachelle Ann Go became the grand champion of Search For A Star in 2004. From there, her music was recognized at the Shanghai Music Festival and Astana International Song Festival in 2005.

Her winning streak extended to the stage, where she began her acting career. This would pay off clearly in the form of a Best Actress trophy from the Broadway World Philippine Awards for her debut performance as Ariel in The Little Mermaid in 2011.

Meanwhile, her more recent international repertoire includes prominent roles in Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, and Hamilton.

Juan Karlos Labajo

Juan Karlos “JK” Labajo was introduced at 13 on the first season of The Voice Kids, where he placed third. The multi-award-winning musician has since released two studio albums by himself and with his band, Juan Karlos.

Although he has played supporting roles since 2014, Labajo has drawn bigger attention with his more recent work like Blue Room and When This Is All Over.

Among Filipino audiences, his role in the trending TV series Senior High as a bully with an abusive father is the clear standout.

Nadine Lustre

Nadine Lustre debuted in 2009 as one of the Pop Girls, a girl group under Viva Entertainment. She later left to pursue a solo career that is more reflective of the music she wants to make, paying off in the form of accolades from the MOR Pinoy Music Awards, Myx Music Awards, Philippine Popular Music Festival, PMPC Star Awards for Music, and SBS PopAsia.

Her acting trajectory is more straightforward: bagging her Best Actress titles one after another, including FAMAS Awards for Never Not Love You and Greed, a Gawad Urian Award for Never Not Love You, and at the Metro Manila Film Festival for Deleter.

She also starred in the local drama series On The Wings Of Love and Till I Met You between 2015 and 2017 with her then-love team partner James Reid.

Jolina Magdangal

Jolina Magdangal was only 11 when she became part of the singing group 14-K under the tutelage of Ryan Cayabyab himself. Alongside singing lessons from Mr. C, Magdangal learned dance from Douglas Nieras as well as acting from Gina Alajar and Beverly Vergel.

The Queen of Pinoy Popular Culture recorded some of the best-selling albums of all time in the Philippines, not to mention how she carried 1999 as that year’s best-selling Filipino solo recording artist.

She was just as, if not more, in demand for her screen appearances as a lead actress, affirmed by the Box Office Entertainment Awards citing her as the “Princess of Philippine Movies.” Who could forget her iconic monologue in Labs Kita… Okey Ka Lang? where Bujoy declares: “Oh, yes, kaibigan mo ‘ko. (I’m your friend.) Kaibigan mo lang ako (I’m just your friend)… And I’m so stupid to make the biggest mistake of falling in love with my best friend.”

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga technically started her music and acting careers simultaneously with her professional debut in The King and I. However, it was her singing at family parties that led to her relative encouraging her to audition for the musical theatre production.

At the age of 10, Lea recorded her first solo album, Small Voice, which was certified gold in the Philippines. She also received three consecutive Aliw Awards for Best Child Performer from 1980 to 1982.

A decade later, she became the first Asian artist to win a Tony Award for originating the lead role of Kim in the Broadway production of “Miss Saigon” on top of her earlier victory at the Laurence Olivier Awards for the same role.

Dennis Trillo

Once upon a time, Dennis Trillo played drums for the punk band Moyg. His showbiz beginnings trace back to the 10th batch of ABS-CBN’s Star Circle, which he was part of with Bea Alonzo and Alfred Vargas.

His breakthrough finally came upon his transfer to GMA Network with lead roles in the fantasy show Mulawin and the Metro Manila Film Festival official entry Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita. The latter earned him his first acting accolade: the festival’s Best Supporting Actor that year.

Trillo would go on to receive more and more Best Actor recognitions from the Film Academy of the Philippines, the FAMAS Awards, the PMPC Star Awards for Movies, the Golden Screen Awards, and the Young Critics Circle.

Tuesday Vargas

Tuesday Vargas was once the lead vocalist of Put3ska (under her real name, Marizel Sarangelo) following Myra Ruaro’s departure. She later sang for her own bands, Top Junk and High Targets.

Her acting only gained significant recognition in her 30s with Here Comes The Bride, Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin, and LSS (Last Song Syndrome).

She received best actress nominations for the first two films at the Golden Screen Awards in 2011 and 2014. In the last film, a Ben&Ben jukebox musical, Vargas won Best Supporting Actress at the 2019 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino for portraying a single mother forced to forgive her unfaithful ex who became seriously ill.