Before the massive success of A Star is Born, not as many people knew that Lady Gaga had more up her sleeve than her music. While critics were shocked by Gaga’s acting chops, the most passionate of fans knew she had actually been working up to an Oscar nomination pretty much her whole life. According to New York Magazine, Gaga — born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — had been studying acting alongside music since she was a child growing up in New York. She started taking acting classes at age 11 and was auditioning for school plays by eighth grade, landing the lead roles of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
When it came to professional acting roles, however, Gaga didn’t have as much success — according to the Los Angeles Times, Gaga had a non-speaking role on an episode of the Sopranos in 2001 and appeared on an MTV reality television show in 2005. She would not dive into professional acting again until she had already become famous as a pop star. Her acting talent was finally recognized when she was cast in a lead role for American Horror Story in 2015. Gaga won a Golden Globe for best actress in a limited series or TV movie for portraying “the Countess.” Since each season of the show tells a stand-alone story, Gaga played a new character in the following season.
Congrats to @ladygaga on her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her powerful performance as Ally! Her first nomination in this category. #AStarIsBorn #OscarNoms #Oscars pic.twitter.com/zW8zKb9OhZ— A Star Is Born (@starisbornmovie) January 22, 2019
As IndieWire points out, Gaga’s entire music career can be counted as an acting performance. From her stage name to her elaborate costumes, the singer always told a story in her music videos and live performances. It wasn’t until the 2018 film A Star is Born — where Gaga rid herself of theatrics and stripped herself down to a raw, relatable character — that she was nominated for an Oscar. According to Variety, her co-star (and the film’s director) Bradley Cooper knew from the beginning that Gaga was meant for the role.
“She entrusted me with giving herself so she could reveal herself to be the actress that she is, and I entrusted her that I would be able to become the musician that I was terrified to be,” he said of her in October.
“I don’t believe that she’s acting refined, I think she’s just being real,” he said in November. “She’s incredible. Her willingness to put the work in — I postponed the movie two months just so she and I could work on our characters together. She’s very busy. Her willingness to put all that work in — Thank God!”
Gaga ended up tying with Glenn Close for Best Actress at the Critics’ Choice Awards on January 13. As of January 22, she’s an Oscar nominee.