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Actress-singers and actor-singers: do actresses become singers and singers become actors?

Jeanne Moreau and Anna Karina were first known as actresses and then became singers.

We have also many examples of singers becoming actors. For instance Bourvil, Eddy Mitchell, Jacques Dutronc, Johnny Hallyday, Orelsan or Philippe Katerine were at first singers and then became actors.

So my intuition is that the actress-singers tend to be actresses at first and then become singers whereas male singers tend to have opportunities to become actors later in their career.

Now, I need to find data to test my assumption. I collect data from Wikidata. I focus on people known as actor and singer with French citizenship. Focusing on one country is useful to have a medium size sample. Querying Wikidata for all citizenship would be too long and it would lead to compare artists from different cultures and socio-economic contexts. I choose France so that I can check the consistency of the data. Of course, it would be worth testing the same assumption in other countries.

I find 3,727 artists including 1,689 actress-singers and 2,036 actors-singers. For all those artists, I collect all their apparitions in movies with the date and all their interpretations of musical works with the date.

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Career of Anna Karina. Each blue tile represents a movie with Anna Karina and each orange tile represents a musical work interpreted by Anna Karina.
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Movies and musical works interpreted by Philippe Katerine. Each blue tile is a movie with Philippe Katerine. Each orange tile is a musical piece interpreted by Philippe Katerine.

Testing my intuition

I look at the probability of having movie or musical work as first work for males and females. I find really similar proportions for males and females. Actresses/singers have 71.5 % of chance of begining their career with a movie. The proportion is nearly the same for actors/singers : 71.8 %.

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The chart shows the proportion of actor-singers and actress-singers beginning their career with a movie by gender.


Sometimes, intuitions are wrong. So it's useful to test assumptions using data. Wikidata is a fantastic database which can be used to test many assumptions.

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