Jordin Sparks isn't the first "American Idol" star to step away from the reality boob tube and give Hollywood a go, and she won't be the last. Her loosely biographical movie "Sparkle" — also featuring the late Whitney Houston, Mike Epps and Cee-Lo Green — is but the latest instance of an "Idol" star getting a close-up on the big screen.
The movie successes of Sparks' predecessors in "Idol" alumni-hood have been a mixed bag of total wins and, well, sheer embarrassment. So, how will the season six-winning songstress' flick fare?
Let's compare "Idol" in Hollywood notes to find out.
While Season 3's winner (Fantasia Barrino) has had very little luck in the Hollywood spotlight, its the seventh-placer who serves as the lodestar example of an "Idol" alum making movie magic happen for herself. In 2006, she starred in the movie musical "Dreamgirls" and took home Hollywood's highest honor, an Academy Award, for her work in the film. She's since been juggling record releases and occasional acting gigs with finesse. If Jordin Sparks is attempting to take a leaf from anyone's post-"Idol" playbook, it's probably Jennifer Hudson (evidence that she is: they've just joined hands for a new film, "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete").
The season 4 winner has a Golden Globe nomination under her belt ... just not for acting. The blonde country superstar has shown some ambition for the Hollywood life — guest-starring in "Sesame Street" and "How I Met Your Mother" before hitting the silver screen in 2011 for "Soul Surfer" — but she seems to know her real notoriety comes from her set of pipes and not her acting chops.
"American Idol"'s sophomore season winner played it smart for his first movie role. He, who's already larger than life, graced the big screen in 2004 for "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" but didn't try to over-exert himself. Instead, the R&B singer portrayed himself with no frills. Still, while his film career might've been less annoying than Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson's, it was just as short-lived.
The very first "American Idol" launched into the filmmaking fold quickly after taking her crown. She and Season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini teamed up for the terrible, terrible disaster that was "From Justin to Kelly." Consider the tagline for this blunder: "A lonely, sexually repressed man. A depressed woman. A summer camp. On this fateful night, they will meet... and their hearts will become one." It's largely considered one of the worst movies ever to be made, and neither Clarkson nor Guarini have ever recovered in the film career department.
Another flimsy stint in the movie biz came in 2003 by way of Rasmusen, who came in sixth during "Idol's" second season. She earned a small role in the supposedly comedic version of "Pride and Prejudice" (not the ones with Keira Knightley or Colin Firth; this one had someone named Kam Heskin on board as Elizabeth Bennet). Needless to say, Rasmusen's name didn't quite make it to the Hollywood Walk of Fame as she might've hoped.
Perhaps the strangest case of a former "American Idol" contestant testing out his thespian, erm, bone is Verraros, who placed among the top ten in Season 1. Somehow the guy convinced himself that starring in a 2004 flick called "Eating Out" would launch him into a fruitful career, but despite many kudos for the bravery of the subject matter at hand in the film, his career has been pretty limp. He is looking to revive his flaccid resume next year with a new movie called "Copacabana," but we won't count on seeing that one in neon lights any time soon.
Another former contestant rapidly climbing the Hollywood ladder is "Idol's" fifth season runner-up (who perplexingly lost to a white-haired one-noter named Taylor Hicks). McPhee got a healthy-sized role in the 2008 comedy "The House Bunny" and, unlike some of her contemporaries, was not laughed out of town for it. These days, McPhee's headlining the hit NBC series "Smash."
Despite dismal results for Seasons 1 and 2's winners, Season 3 champ Fantasia Barrino hoped she might have better luck in Tinseltown than her predecessors when she wrote and starred in the 2006 TV movie "Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story." Even with formidable talents like Viola Davis and Loretta Devine on board, however, the movie was only so-so and did not a star make.
Like so many before her, Season 4's third place finisher gave acting a shot but missed the mark completely. She appeared in the small-time flick "Still Green" in 2007 but hasn't made any moves in movies since then. To be fair, she did nab a bit part in this year's viral YouTube video "Beauty and the BEAT!"
If when you hear her name, the first thing you think is "O'Dono-who?" you're not alone, but in reality, the "Idol" Season 5 semi-finalist isn't doing too badly in the acting world. She — who, fun fact, is an identical twin with sister Jessie — kicked things off with a bit part in 2007's comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" and has since earned small parts in TV shows like "Psych," "CSI: Miami" and "The Big Bang Theory."
Covais (left) is the little engine that perhaps can't but just keeps on thinking he can. The Season 5 alum who finished in 11th place appeared in the 2008 flick "College" and then joined the likes of downward-spiraling Lindsay Lohan in 2008's "Labor Pains." After a recurring role in the short-lived ABC Family series "State of Georgia," Covais has somehow nabbed a supporting role in the well-cast comedy "Identity Theft," which hits theaters next May. We wait with bated breath to see whether it makes a star out of the now-grown Covais or not.
You would think that with that smile and that hair, Season 7's White would be cut out for a Mr. DeMille-style close-up, and she gave it a shot with 2011's TV movie "Change of Plans" (which she contributed to the soundtrack for), but she's said before, "I'm not really trying to be an actress." Seeing as she doesn't have anything else coming up, we believe her.
Still to Come
Season 11's runner-up, little Jessica Sanchez, also has Hollywood on the brain, as she's heading for a guest role on "Glee" next season and potentially starring in the film adaptation of "Miss Saigon." Meanwhile, Season 10 contestant Pia Toscano might be nabbing a "Glee" role soon as well and has picked up her first movie role in "Grace Unplugged." Finally, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" just added a former "American Idol" hopeful by the name of Alan Ritchson. The ladies are definitely gonna love him.
Judging by the results from past "Idol" stars, Jordin Sparks has a long row to hoe if she wants to make a place for herself in the movie biz. But if her part in "Sparkle" has even a sliver of the magic Jennifer Hudson was handed with "Dreamgirls," she may have a shot yet.