Ashanti Ready for Her Movie Close-Up

updated 01/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/10/2003 12:00PM

Five-time Grammy nominee Ashanti, who is up for the best new artist award, is also adding another new credit to her resume: movie star.

Launch.com reports that the R&B newcomer, 22, will star in a remake of the rather flawed 1976 movie musical, "Sparkle," about a trio of aspiring female singers.

Ashanti will play the character named Sparkle -- who was originally played by Irene Cara, before she hit the big time with the 1980 movie "Fame."

Rapper Ja Rule, 26, is due to play Sparkle's love interest, Stix, who was played in the original by Philip Michael Thomas, who went on to become Detective Ricardo Tubbs on TV's "Miami Vice."

Ashanti and Ja Rule have already teamed together in the studio, for their hit, "Always on Time."

The remake of "Sparkle" is to be directed by first-timer Irv Gotti, of Murder Inc. "It's a huge, music industry type of movie, and, like, a sister gets killed, and it's really good," Ashanti tells Launch. "It's a drama. You gotta watch it. Rent it at Blockbuster."

In other casting news, MTV News reports that rapper Eve, 23, who had brief roles in the movies "Barbershop" and "XXX," has signed on to star in a sitcom for UPN.

She will play "a New York fashion designer in a multiethnic comedy she conceptualized and will produce," according to the network. No title or premiere date has been announced.

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