With over 40 years in the music business, Janet Jackson is globally recognized as one of the biggest pop stars of all time. Although she is a part of music royalty, the legend created her own lane and dominated the industry. Since her eponymous debut in 1982, Jackson has released 11 studio albums, which have garnered 10 hits that topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and 27 songs to reach the Top 10, per Billboard.

While she cemented herself early on as a musical force, Jackson also ventured into Hollywood. At 11 years old, she starred in “Good Times” by playing the role of Millicent “Penny” Gordon.

"One of the things that Norman [Lear, who developed “Good Times”] said about her character, he said, 'I didn't hire her because she was just a Jackson,'" Bern Nadette Stanis, who played Thelma Evans on the sitcom, told PEOPLE in a 2023 interview. "In other words, 'I hired her because she was a Jackson, but I really hired her because she was a good actress.'"

Stanis added, "She was a delight to work with. She was disciplined. She knew her lines. She did her little schoolwork. She was sweet as pie, still sweet as pie. But I'm just saying, to come from a family that was so wonderful and big in the world and to have such a humble little spirit, it's amazing. It was amazing."

In a TikTok posted in September 2023, Jackson even expressed how her debut on “Good Times” in 1977 “opened another door” for her.

Following the sitcom, the pop artist went on to land roles in “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Fame” and “The Love Boat.” Then, she transitioned from television to the box office. Here is REVOLT’s ranking of the films that the music icon has starred in across two decades.

5. Why Did I Get Married Too?

Following the success of its original, Why Did I Get Married Too? hit theaters in 2010. In contrast to the first film, Dr. Patricia Agnew not only dealt with grief, but also divorce. The emotional rollercoaster the star had to portray heightened her acting, which undoubtedly took the spotlight. Surprisingly, the sequel performed better in the box office than the original, coming in at over $60 million worldwide, per IMDb.

4. For Colored Girls

Written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry, For Colored Girls is an adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s performance work, which was published in 1975. The drama featured an all-star cast including Jackson, Loretta Devine, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Thandiwe Newton, Tessa Thompson, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise and Macy Gray. The ensemble played 10 Black women whose lives are interconnected, and each experienced their own share of hardship.

Playing the role of Joanna “Jo” Bradmore — also known as Lady in Red — Jackson’s character dealt with infidelity. While her screen time for For Colored Girls was shorter than her other films, she was still a scene-stealer as she showcased the growth in her acting chops.

3. Why Did I Get Married?

After a slight acting hiatus, Jackson returned in Why Did I Get Married? as Dr. Patricia Agnew, a psychologist and author. Released in 2007, the film was the start of Jackson’s work with Perry. Fellow cast members included Jill Scott, Tasha Smith, Malik Yoba, Sharon Leal, Richard T. Jones and Michael Jai White. The movie follows the lives of four couples who face the trials and tribulations of marriage.

During an interview with Perry for Moviefone’s “Unscripted,” she shared that she “loved the script” and “fell in love with the character.” Moreover, the star said that being on-set with the cast was like being with brothers and sisters. “Being able to work with the cast and yourself, that was probably the best part for me,” Jackson said. “Meeting a whole new group of people and I don’t do that a lot, as you know. And the fun that I had on the set.”

2. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

Compared to her other movies, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps is a more lighthearted entry in her filmography. In the comedy, the actress co-starred with Eddie Murphy as his love interest, Denise Gaines. According to IMDb, the movie grossed over $166 million worldwide.

In addition to playing the role of Denise, Jackson dropped “Doesn’t Really Matter,” the movie soundtrack’s lead single. Produced by herself, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2000.

1. Poetic Justice

With her film debut, Jackson became the star of a Black cult classic. Written and directed by John Singleton, Poetic Justice followed up Boyz n The Hood. While the Oscar-nominated film achieved great success and received many accolades, the 1993 film could stand alone and ultimately became another hit in Singleton’s filmography.

Despite being an introduction to her acting chops in film, Poetic Justice saw the multi-talent take on heavy themes such as gun violence, grief and depression. She also acted alongside fellow stars Tupac and Regina King. Another feat that came along with her first movie role was her song for the film’s soundtrack titled “Again,” which received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for “Best Original Song,” and earned her a No.1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.