Jennifer Beals

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Jennifer Beals
Jennifer Beals at GLAAD Awards cropped.jpg
Beals at the GLAAD Awards, 2009.
Born (1963-12-19) December 19, 1963 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Francis W. Parker School
Yale University
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 1980–present
Known for Alexandra Owens – Flashdance
Bette Porter – The L Word
Spouse(s) Alexandre Rockwell (m. 1986–96)
Ken Dixon (m. 1998)
Children 1

Jennifer Beals (born December 19, 1963) is an American actress and a former teen model. She is best known for her role as Alexandra "Alex" Owens in the 1983 romantic drama film Flashdance, and starred as Bette Porter on the Showtime drama series The L Word. Beals earned an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Globe Award nomination for the former. She has appeared in more than 50 films.

Early life

Beals was born on December 19, 1963 in Chicago, Illinois (south side)[1] the daughter of Jeanne (née Anderson), an elementary school teacher, and Alfred Beals, who owned grocery stores.[2][3] Her father was African American, and her mother is Irish American.[4] She has two brothers, Bobby and Gregory.[5] Her father died when Beals was 10 years old,[6] and her mother married Edward Cohen in 1981.[7] Beals has said her biracial heritage had some effect on her, as she "always lived sort of on the outside", with an idea "of being the other in society".[4] She got her first job at age 13 at an ice cream store, using her height at the time (she is now 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)), to convince her boss she was 16.[6]

Beals was inspired to become an actress by two events: doing a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof and seeing Balm in Gilead with Joan Allen while volunteer-ushering at the Steppenwolf Theatre.[8]

Beals graduated from the progressive Francis W. Parker School.[9] She also was chosen to attend the elite Goodman Theatre Young People's Drama Workshop.[10] Beals attended Yale University, receiving a B.A. in American Literature in 1987;[11] she deferred a term so she could film Flashdance.[9] While at Yale, Beals was a resident of Morse College.[11]



Beals in Sweden during promotion for Flashdance, July 1983

Beals had a minor role in the 1980 film My Bodyguard,[12] then came to fame with her starring part in Flashdance. The third-highest grossing U.S. film of 1983, Flashdance is the story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and exotic dancer by night, whose dream is to be accepted someday at an illustrious school of dance. Beals was cast for this key role while still a student at Yale. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and the film received an Academy Award for Best Song. Many of Beals' elaborate dance moves were actually performed by stunt double Marine Jahan.[13]

After she filmed Flashdance, Beals resumed her studies, making only one film during that time: playing the titular character The Bride with singer-actor Sting, a gothic horror film loosely based on the 1935 classic Bride of Frankenstein,[14] shot during her summer break.[15] She also appeared in the "Cinderella" episode of Faerie Tale Theatre.[12] Beals was asked by Joel Schumacher to do St. Elmo's Fire but turned it down, preferring to stay at Yale.[16]

After completing her studies at Yale in 1987, Beals returned to acting as the love interest in the boxing film Kid Gloves opposite Craig Sheffer.[9] Starring opposite Nicolas Cage, she portrayed a lusty and thirsty vampire in 1989's Vampire's Kiss. Jennifer Beals was considered for the role of Catwoman in Tim Burton's 1992 film Batman Returns but she politely declined the role.

In 1995, Beals and Denzel Washington co-starred in Devil in a Blue Dress, a period film based on a Walter Mosley novel featuring L.A. private detective, Easy Rawlins. Beals plays a biracial woman passing for white. That same year she appeared with Tim Roth in two segments of the four-story anthology Four Rooms, one of which was directed by her then-husband, Alexandre Rockwell.

Rockwell had previously directed her in the 1992 independent film In the Soup, which was a Grand Prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival.[17] In 2003, she played one of the sequestered jury members in the film adaptation of Runaway Jury.

She had a leading role in 2006's The Grudge 2, sequel to the hit horror film of two years earlier. In 2010, Beals reunited with Denzel Washington in the post-Apocalyptic action drama, The Book of Eli, where she played a blind woman who is the mother of Mila Kunis' character and a servant of Gary Oldman's.[18]

Beals portrayed UCLA Bruins gymnastics Head Coach, Valorie Kondos Field, in the Full Out movie about Ariana Berlin.[19]


In 1992, she appeared in 2000 Malibu Road as attorney Perry Quinn. It was her first ongoing television series; she said she had been leery as she previously had not "found a character I wanted to live with for several years".[10]

In 2004, Beals made a brief cameo in the final episode of Frasier. In 2007, she appeared in the small TV drama My Name Is Sarah, in which she plays Sarah Winston, a sober woman who joins Alcoholics Anonymous to conduct research for her book but finds herself falling in love with a recovering alcoholic and - as a result - having to deal with her original deception in joining the group.[20]

Beals starred in Showtime Network's The L Word, wherein she played Bette Porter, an Ivy League-educated lesbian. At Beals' request, Bette was made biracial, enabling Pam Grier's Kit Porter character to become Bette's half-sister.[21] Beals' initial research for the part focused more on the woman's profession as an art museum director than on her life as a lesbian;[22] "I was much more obsessed by the work that Bette did, because she was so obsessed by the work that she did."[23] The series ran for six seasons and ended in March 2009.

She also appears alongside Tim Roth in Lie to Me, as Cal Lightman's ex-wife, Zoe Landau, another biracial character.

Beals is the female lead in Fox's TV drama The Chicago Code. Her character Teresa Colvin is Chicago's first female police superintendent.[24] The series was canceled after its first season.[25]

Beals turned down an offer to appear on Dancing with the Stars, saying: "I am not a dancer. They asked me and I said 'no.' You could back up a truck to my door filled with cash and I wouldn't do it."[26]

In 2013, Beals signed on for the main role of the ABC drama pilot Westside produced by McG and developed by Ilene Chaiken.[27]

On March 10, 2014, it was announced that Beals would star as Dr. Kathryn Russo (character's name is Dr. Carolyn Tyler) in Proof, a TNT supernatural medical drama about a hard-nosed surgeon, struggling with the loss of her teenage son, who begins to investigate that there may be life after death. The series will be produced by Kyra Sedgwick.[28]

Web series

Beals is also well known for her support of women's rights and for her strong feminist character. In August 2012, she appeared alongside Troian Bellisario in the web series Lauren on the YouTube channel, WIGS.[29] Its first season is a three episode arc featuring the stories of women in the army being abused, predominantly by more powerful superior. The stories focused on the frequently reported cases on sexual abuse and how and why most of the cases went unreported or unsettled. Beals has also appeared in two interviews, discussing her views in relation to Lauren.[30][31]

In January 2013, Troian Bellisario confirmed on her Twitter and instagram, that she and Beals were filming more Lauren web episodes.[32] Lauren returned on May 3, 2013 and with a second season of 12 episodes.[33][34]

Personal life

Beals was married to Alexandre Rockwell from 1986 to 1996.[4] In 1998, she married Ken Dixon, a Canadian entrepreneur.[35] On October 18, 2005, Beals gave birth to their daughter.[35] Her husband also has two children from a previous marriage.[35]

Beals has described herself as a "spiritual person".[36] She has expressed interest in The Bible and Catholicism, as well as Judaism, which she once considered conversion to, and is a practicing Buddhist.[37][38][39]

She has been a vocal advocate for gay rights saying, "I think after playing Bette Porter on The L Word for six years I felt like an honorary member of the community."[40] Beals was a Celebrity Grand Marshal at the 2006 San Francisco Pride Parade.[41] In October 2012, she received the Human Rights Campaign's Ally For Equality Award, in recognition of her outstanding support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.[42] Jennifer Beals is a practitioner of Kung-Fu, Sanshou, & Kickboxing. She also enjoys Ballet, Salsa dancing & Belly dancing.

Beals is a photographer, who has had shows of her work under her married name, Dixon.[43] She has a book about her time on The L Word featuring her own photographs.[44] In 1989, she spent some time in Haiti photographing the elections.[45]

She is also a triathlete.[46][47]

In 2010, Beals served as the Grand Marshal of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago,[48] during which she spoke of the two charities important to her, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Pablove Foundation.[49]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 My Bodyguard Clifford's Friend Uncredited[12]
1983 Flashdance Alex Owens NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1985 The Bride Eva Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Actress
1988 The Gamble Lady Olivia Candioni a.k.a. La Partita
1988 Split Decisions Barbara Uribe
1989 Vampire's Kiss Rachel
1989 Sons Transgender
1990 Dr. M Sonja Vogler
1991 Blood and Concrete Mona
1992 In the Soup Angelica Pena
1992 Day of Atonement Joyce
1993 Caro diario Herself
1993 The Thief and the Cobbler Princess YumYum Voice
1994 Dead on Sight Rebecca Darcy
1994 Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Gertrude Benchley
1994 The Search for One-eye Jimmy Ellen
1995 Four Rooms Angela
1995 Let It Be Me Emily Taylor
1995 Devil in a Blue Dress Daphne Monet Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
1997 Wishful Thinking Elizabeth
1998 Body and Soul Gina
1998 The Prophecy II Valerie Rosales
1998 The Last Days of Disco Nina
1999 Something More Lisa
1999 Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying Jessica
2000 Militia Julie Sanders
2001 Out of Line Parole Officer Jenny Capitanas
2001 The Anniversary Party Gina Taylor
2002 13 Moons Suzi
2002 Roger Dodger Sophie
2003 Runaway Jury Vanessa Lembeck
2004 Catch That Kid Molly
2005 Break a Leg Juliet
2005 Desolation Sound Elizabeth Storey
2006 The Grudge 2 Trish
2006 Troubled Waters Special Agent Jennifer Beck
2009 Queen to Play L'Américaine
2010 The Book of Eli Claudia
2010 A Night for Dying Tigers Melanie
2013 Cinemanovels Clementine Independent film
2015 Full Out Coach Val
2016 Before I Fall Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Faerie Tale Theatre Cinderella Episode: "Cinderella"
1990 Tinikling ou 'La madonne et le dragon Patty Meredith Television movie
1992 2000 Malibu Road Perry Quinn Main role, 6 episodes
1992 Indecency Ellie Shaw Television movie
1992 fr (Terror Stalks the Class Reunion; Terror Stalks the Class Reunion) Virginia Television movie
1993 Night Owl Julia Television movie
1997 The Outer Limits Robin Dysart Episode: "Bodies of Evidence"
1997 The Twilight of the Golds Suzanne Stein Television movie
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1997–98 Nothing Sacred Justine Madsen Judd 2 episodes
1998 The Spree Xinia Kelly Television movie
1999 The Hunger Jane Episode: "And She Laughed"
2000 Without Malice Samantha Wilkes Television movie
2000 A House Divided Amanda Dickson Television movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2001 The Big House Lorraine Brewster Television movie
2001 After the Storm Mrs. Gavotte Television movie
2001 The Feast of All Saints Dolly Rose Television movie
2002 They Shoot Divas, Don't They? Sloan McBride Television movie
2004–09 The L Word Bette Porter Main role, 70 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (2007–08)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
2004 Frasier Dr. Anne Ranberg 2 episodes
2007 Law & Order Sofia Archer Episode: "Charity Case"
2007 My Name Is Sarah Sarah Winston Television movie
2009–11 Lie to Me Zoe Landau Recurring role, 6 episodes
2010 The Night Before the Night Before Christmas Angela Fox Television movie
2011 The Chicago Code Teresa Colvin Main role, 13 episodes
2012 Castle CIA Agent Sophia Turner 2 episodes
2012–13 Lauren[50] Major Jo Stone Main cast, 10 episodes
2012–13 The Mob Doctor Celeste LaPree Recurring cast, 4 episodes
2013 Westside Lisa Carver Unsold TV pilot
2014 Motive Sophia Balfur Episode: "They Made Me a Criminal"
2014 A Wife's Nightmare Liz Television movie
2015 Proof Dr. Carolyn Tyler Lead role


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External links