What made Lady Gaga want to star in American Horror Story?

Lady Gaga is set to star in the next season of American Horror Story. Is she reinventing herself or being true to who she always was?

Danny Moloshok/Reuters
Lady Gaga arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills on February 22. She announced on Feb. 25 that she will be starring in the upcoming season of American Horror Story.

Quickly following Lady Gaga’s tribute to “The Sound of Music” at the Academy Awards — a performance that left Julie Andrews herself feeling “deeply honored”—the iconic pop star announced on her Twitter page that she will star in the fifth season of “American Horror Story.”

From wearing meat to showing up in a giant egg to releasing a jazz album, the performer has left fans and critics alike guessing at her next move. Now, she will take on her first regular acting gig.  

How will her monster fans perceive this sudden switch in career paths: Is she attempting to reinvent herself to stay relevant? Or is she simply exploring a diversity of interests?

Gaga teased her role in “American Horror Story” to her 44.5 million Twitter followers on Wednesday:

Ryan Murphy, the show’s producer, previously worked with Gaga when he used her tracks in his hit show “Glee.” Last season’s American Horror Story, themed “Freak Show,” broke records when the season premiere became the most-watched program in FX history. With the newest season featuring such a big name celebrity, viewers can anticipate learning not just the show’s twists, but also whether Gaga has any talent as an actress.

Her announcement, which followed on the heels of a flawless Academy Awards performance, has created speculation to her seemingly sudden reappearance in headlines. The release of her newest album, “Cheek to Cheek,” caught the media’s attention, mainly because the collection of jazz standards were created in collaboration with 88-year-old Tony Bennett, another surprising career choice for Gaga.

While Billboard described her performance and recent successes as a “comeback,” others pointed out the 28-year-old has hardly had a long enough career to merit such a description. Alex Frank of Vogue wrote that a change is necessary in Gaga’s career if she wishes to remain relevant.

“She gave us a new Gaga,” Mr. Frank wrote. “Never mind the technical prowess on display: It was refreshing just to see one of the world’s most familiar stars in an entirely different light . . . The talent on display was indisputable, but she also gave us the hit of pop-culture adrenaline we so desire: something to love, something to hate, something to debate—something to tweet about.”

But perhaps Gaga is focusing on more than just “reinventing” herself. While she rose to fame with her wild visuals, unique costumes, and extravagant sets, her career originated in the classics. Before she was Lady Gaga she was Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who grew up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She trained with Christina Aguilera's vocal coach, studied her father's classic rock albums, and learned classical piano. She was a singer-songwriter who worked with Island Def Jam until she grew bored with her own sound.

If anything, the young artist grew to fame almost too quickly to comprehend, and in that tried to stay true to herself and avoid being influenced by expectations. In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, she discussed why she keeps pictures of classic stars—such as Jimmy Page, Debbie Harry, the Sex Pistols, John Lennon and the Ramones, and an Andy Warhol triptych of Elvis Presley — around at all times.

"I just like to keep people around me that remind me of what I think is going to be, ultimately, part of my greater legacy," she said at the time. "As opposed to committing myself to a trend or to an idea of what the public perceives my music or my artistry or personality to be. It reminds me to be myself."

And be herself she does. Whether it is performing a classical tribute or starring in a hit TV series, Gaga has shown that she is willing to explore her multiple interests and talents with fervor and dedication. Rolling Stone put it this way:

“Her next move is anyone's guess —trying to predict her future would be as futile as trying to read her poker face.”

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