Artist, Actor

By EW Staff
Updated October 15, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Usher: Noe Dewitt/Corbis Outline

How Usher gained power in 2004

AGE 26

Three years ago, EW spoke to Usher about his grander ambitions. ”I?m really interested in acting,” he proclaimed. ”I would love to have an opportunity to segue dance and acting, in the way Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire did, but in a more modern setting.” This didn?t seem like a terribly realistic goal at the time: For one thing, Usher already appeared to be stuck at a midlevel star plateau. For another, the screen breakthrough he was promoting at the time was a cameo on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

But in 2004, the phrase ”Usher movie” trips off the studio-exec tongue much more readily. His Confessions is far and away 2004’s best-selling CD (5.7 million to date, more than 2 mil ahead of nearest competitor Norah Jones). ”Yeah!” remains its most ubiquitous single. And during one week in June, Usher held down three of the top 10 spots on Billboard‘s Hot 100, a feat unmatched since the Bee Gees in ’78. Little surprise, then, that Dimension Films has signed Usher for his first film lead, playing — surprise — a kid dreaming of immodest stardom.