At the 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday night, Lady Gaga and Glenn Close tied in the best lead actress category for their performances in A Star Is Born and The Wife respectively. As the Edge of Glory singer is relatively new to acting, this prestigious award reflects the tremendous momentum she has as an actress in recent years. Just weeks ago, she received two Golden Globe nominations–one for Best Actress in a Drama, and she took home the statue for Best Original Song for A Star Is Born’s “Shallow.” And in 2016, her performances as hotel owner Elizabeth Johnson in FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel earned her a Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film award at the Golden Globes.

In A Star Is Born, Gaga moved audiences with her raw and vulnerable performance as the rising musical star Ally Maine opposite Bradley Cooper’s character, the established singer-songwriter Jack Maine. Cooper also directed the film, and Gaga says the support she received from him made her feel the set was a creative sanctuary.

“I went to places in my mind and in my heart that I did not know existed or that I could,” she said while accepting her Critics’ Choice award. Gaga and Cooper shot scenes many times and no two takes were the same. The two co-wrote and produced the bulk of the songs on the soundtrack and performed them live in the film.

Backstage, Gaga said, “Look, since I was a young girl in New York trying to make it, I had so many people tell me, ‘No.’ I’ve been dealing with that my whole life. And to tell you the truth, when they said they wanted a screen test, I was like, ‘Bring it on.’ And I think I grew a lot as a person being able to feel that way because I’m truly terrible at auditioning. Really. I’m not good. That’s why I gave up trying to be an actress. But this was extra special, and I wanted to give it everything I had.”

Lady Gaga is most famous for her singing, songwriting, wildly eccentric fashion and provocative performances. With chart-topping singles like “Just Dance” and “Born This Way,” adding acting to her creative repertoire might seem like a new interest for the pop star. Truth be told, she originally set her dreams on becoming an actress over pursuing a musical career. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, the aspiring young talent studied theater for years. She joined in with her high school’s theater program, taking the lead in a number of productions, and she attended acting school.

“I went to acting school for almost ten years growing up. I went to [The Lee] Strasberg Theatre [& Film Institute] downtown. I studied Method acting. And I just was really terrible at auditioning, and extremely awkward, and couldn’t get a job, so I decided to become a singer instead,” she told Jimmy Fallon. She acknowledges that auditioning is a separate skill than acting, and she demonstrated how she’d freeze up during auditions, admitting she felt “pure shock” in front of the camera.

Although Stefani Germanotta appeared in some small roles including extra work on the “The Telltale Moozadell” episode of The Sopranos, she came to believe she’d never be able to succeed as an actress due to her audition fears. So instead, she opted to pursue her music career as she considered herself a natural musician.“That is the thing that I believe I am the greatest at,” she said.

Cooper saw Lady Gaga perform a jazz set at a cancer research fundraiser and approached her about the film. She told Stephen Colbert, “There can be a hundred people in the room and ninety-nine don’t believe in you and just one does, and Bradley Cooper believed in me. And I would not be here without him today.”

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