Like any performer making the leap from music to movies, Beyoncé Knowles will likely face an uphill battle convincing critics that she's got what it takes to pull it off. But the Destiny's Child lead singer — who will make her acting debut in the MTV made-for-television movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera — had to first prove herself to her colleagues.
"I was nervous at first because I didn't know what to expect," she tells TV Guide Online of her initial days at work on Carmen. "I'm like, 'Okay, I'm going to be this singer coming in there that knows nothing about acting.' But I think I got it. It's really not difficult, it's easy."
Knowles credits director Robert Townsend, as well as leading man Mekhi Phifer (Shaft), with helping her make the transition. But it's her Destiny's Child group mates — Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland — to whom she really owes a debt of gratitude. "They're the ones that told me that I had to do this movie, because I was nervous," explains the thesp-in-training, who earlier this month captured five Grammy nominations as part of Destiny's Child. "I was like, 'I don't know anything about acting... it's really not a lot of time [to prepare]... it's such a huge role... I'm scared. But they were like, 'Girl, if you don't do this movie, you're crazy! You have to do this movie.'"
Carmen: A Hip Hopera — described by MTV as an "urban retelling of the classic opera" — is a remake of the 1954 film Carmen Jones starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. The update features brand new music and will be narrated by hip-hop star Da Brat. Rappers Lil Bow Wow and Mos Def also make appearances in the telepic, which is slated to air sometime this summer on the music channel.
"It's really hard when you remake movies like this," concedes Knowles, who lists Angela Bassett and Al Pacino as her acting inspirations. "But the script really pulls it off — it's perfect. It could be corny, but it's like the perfect amount of the old Carmen [mixed in with] the 2001 version."