Thirty-two years ago today (Jan. 19, 1990) was a career-changing day for Reba McEntire: It was on that date that the singer made her film debut, appearing in the movie Tremors.
Tremors, which stars Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Michael Gross, is about residents in a small town who are forced to defend themselves against underground creatures that are trying to kill them off. McEntire plays Heather Gummer, part of a survivalist couple who helps protect the town from the deadly creatures. While the movie was the country icon’s first foray into being officially billed as an actress, she had already earned plenty of experience by appearing in her theatrical music videos, including the clip for her 1986 hit “Whoever’s in New England,” which was her very first music video.
“I was one of the very first people to ever do a video in country music. We filmed most of it in Boston,” she explains. “We did this song about New England, and it really did broaden the appeal, broaden my audience.”
McEntire caught the acting bug following the filming of Tremors and went on to star in the TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw with Kenny Rogers and Burt Reynolds, and in the Rob Reiner film North, in 1991 and 1994, respectively. Also in 1994, she starred in a TV movie called Is There Life Out There?, based on her hit single of the same name. McEntire was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the 1995 film Buffalo Girls, in which she played the best friend of Calamity Jane (Anjelica Huston).
The Oklahoma native starred as Annie Oakley in the Broadway version of Annie Get Your Gun in 2001. That same year, she debuted her eponymous sitcom, which aired on the WB network until 2007. McEntire has also continued to act in addition to cultivating her music career: She starred in the sitcom Malibu Country as Reba McKenzie and made guest appearances on the series Baby Daddy and Last Man Standing.
“I totally love to act,” she says. “I don’t care if it’s a musical, a comedy. I just like to work and interact with other people … I like to be with other people rather than standing out there by myself.”
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
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