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From Tremors to Colonel Sanders: A History of Reba McEntire's Acting Roles

The Queen of Country is also the Queen of screens both big and small.

By NBC Insider Staff

After years of guest and mentor cameos dating all the way back to the show's very first season, Reba McEntire is finally claiming a coach seat as her own in the upcoming 24th season of The Voice (returning to NBC Monday, September 25), where she'll oversee the next generation of singing talent alongside John Legend, Niall Horan, and Gwen Stefani.

How to Watch

Watch The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

Known in many circles as the undisputed "Queen of Country," the chart-topping, Grammy Award-winning, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee is more than just a prolific musical artist. She's also an actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. A modern-day Renaissance Woman, if you will.

RELATED: Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood Did a Thrilling Live Duet of a Reba Classic

Today, we'd like to draw your attention to Ms. McEntire's various acting roles in the realms of theater, film, and television. Even if you're somehow not familiar with her music, you probably know Reba from classic movies like Tremors, or else her self-titled sitcom on The CW. But there's more.

When did Reba McEntire start singing?

Reba McEntire performing on stage.

McEntire was instilled with a love of singing from a young age by her mother, Jackie, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame website. That passion led Reba to form a musical trio, the "Singing McEntires," with siblings Pake and Susie.

Her big break came in 1974 when country star Red Steagall heard her rendition of the national anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. Steagall bankrolled Reba's first professional studio session, which led to an official record deal with Mercury Records a year later. The label released her first six albums — Reba McEntire, Out of a Dream, Feel the Fire, Heart to Heart, Unlimited, and Behind the Scene — between 1977 and 1983.

McEntire ultimately grew frustrated with Mercury, whom she felt was trying to pigeonhole her into the genre of country-pop. She eventually signed with MCA records in 1984.

"I said, 'I would really like things more country. I don’t want orchestra and violins. I want a steel guitar and a fiddle,'" she told PBS, recalling a conversation with Jimmy Bowen, head of the label's country division at the time. "That started me having more control of the songs that I recorded. I did find my own way, but I went back to my teachers — Dolly [Parton], Loretta [Lynn], Tammy [Wynette] — and saw what they did to pave the way for women in country music. And I took that wisdom and added it to what I wanted to do, which was go back to the steel guitar and fiddle."

RELATED: Reba McEntire Talks the "Pressure" of Coaching The Voice After Blake Shelton

Her relationship with MCA lasted for over two decades, yielding such acclaimed albums as My Kind of Country (1984), which went gold and nabbed McEntire the title of Female Vocalist of the Year at the Country Music Awards (she'd go on to win the accolade three more times).

Throughout the course of her extraordinary career, Reba has released over two dozen albums, which have collectively sold over 33 million copies. She's also been the recipient of three Grammys, 16 Academy of Country Music Awards, 15 American Music Awards, and nine People's Choice Awards. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011 and honored by The Kennedy Center in 2018.

When did Reba McEntire get into acting?

McEntire apparently caught the acting bug after filming the music video for 1986's "Whoever’s in New England" (from the album of the same name).

"Her videos began to utilize powerful storylines, such as her portrayal of a waitress-wife-mother who goes back to school to get her degree in 1992’s 'Is There Life Out There' video, which led to a 1994 TV movie based on the same concept," explains the Country Music Hall of Fame website.

What films and TV shows has Reba McEntire appeared in?

McEntire made the jump to the big screen in 1990, starring opposite Kevin Bacon in the fan favorite creature feature Tremors as Heather Gummer, gun-toting resident of a small Nevada town terrorized by giant worm monsters called "Graboids."

After kicking some Graboid booty in Tremors, McEntire went on to enjoy prominent roles in The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991), The Little Rascals (1994), One Night at McCool's (2001), and the live-action film adaptation of Charlotte's Web (2006). She even portrayed Colonel Sanders during her finger-lickin' stint as a spokesperson for KFC back in 2018. More recently, the artist has enjoyed appearances in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (from future Strays director Josh Greenbaum) and several episodes of Young Sheldon on CBS.

RELATED: Listen to All of Reba McEntire's Biggest Hits Before She Joins The Voice

We'd be remiss not to mention her self-titled sitcom, Reba, which ran for over 120 episodes across six seasons on The CW (formerly The WB) between 2001 and 2007. Created by Allison M. Gibson, the multi-camera series starred McEntire as a fictionalized, wisecracking version of herself. The sitcom is famous for its theme song, "I'm a Survivor" (sung by Reba, of course), whose lyrics — "A single mom who works two jobs / Who loves her kids and never stops / With gentle hands and the heart of a fighter" — mirror the everyday trials and tribulations of the show's main character.

Reba scored Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and took home a win at the 28th Annual People's Choice Awards, which named McEntire Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series (via Rolling Stone).

Has Reba ever performed on Broadway?

Reba McEntire performing on stage.

Yes! McEntire's talents took her to the world of theater in 2001 for a Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun

"Making her Broadway debut, Reba McEntire glides into the title role of Annie Get Your Gun like a seabird landing on water," gushed Brent Brantley in his review of the stage production for the New York Times. Brantley's praise later continued: "Ms. McEntire has ... managed to put a highly personal, proprietary stamp on a role that the ghost of Ethel Merman has always dominated, creating the most disarmingly unaffected Annie in years."

Several years later, Reba took the stage at Carnegie Hall alongside Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jason Danieley, Lillias White, and Alec Baldwin for a production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific (based on James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning book of short stories, Tales of the South Pacific).

When does The Voice return to NBC?

Season 24 of The Voice premieres on NBC Monday, September 25 at 8/7c on NBC.

Catch up on The Voice's most recent season — now streaming on Peacock!

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