Jennifer Beals is a popular American actress as well as a former teen model. She achieved stardom with her role in the 1983 American romantic drama 'Flashdance'. After she earned both a NAACP Image Award as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination for her role, her amazing acting skills and gorgeous looks earned her roles in several other films such as 'The Gamble', 'Vampire's Kiss', 'Devil in a Blue Dress', and 'The Anniversary Party.' She later was cast in a lead role in the American Canadian television drama series 'The L Word', which earned her much popularity and appreciation. Other than acting, she is also known for her human rights works. She is a strong advocate for gay rights. She is also a skilled photographer, and has hosted several shows of her works as well. She wrote a book which focuses about her time on the show 'The L Word', where her photographs are featured. She has also served as the Grand Marshal of the McDonald's Thanksgiving parade in the year 2010. It is an annual parade produced and presented by the Chicago Holiday Association. Her latest significant role can be seen in the TV series 'Taken', which is based on the 'Taken’ film trilogy, a series of action thriller films. The series, where Beals plays the role of a character named Christina Hart, started airing from February 2017 on the NBC television network.
Childhood & Early Life
Jennifer Beals was born in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, on 19 December 1963. Her father was Alfred Beals, a grocery store owner, while her mother is Jeanne, a school teacher. She lost her father while she was only ten, after which her mother got married again to a man named Edward Cohen. Jennifer is bi-racial.
It was during her high school days that she was inspired to become an actress while she was working on a play named 'Fiddler on the Roof'.
After finishing her education from Francis W. Parker School, she attended the Yale University from where she graduated with a degree in American literature in 1987.
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Jennifer Beals started appearing in films while she was still pursuing her education at Yale. Her first appearance on screen was in a minor role in the 1980 American comedy drama 'My Bodyguard'.
In 1983, she appeared in the romantic drama 'Flashdance'. Playing a character named Alex Owens, her brilliant performance brought her to fame, and earned her a NAACP Image Award as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Two years later, she appeared in 'The Bride,' a horror movie which was loosely based on the famous novel 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley. The film failed to do well and earned her a nomination for the 'Razzie Award' for Worst Actress.
In 1987, after she also finally finished her studies at Yale, she appeared in the film 'Split Decisions', a movie about boxing. The film, which was directed by David Drury, starred her as the love interest of the main character.
In 1989, she gained much appreciation for the portrayal of a bloodthirsty vampire in the movie ‘Vampire’s Kiss'. The film, which was directed by Robert Bierman, was about a mentally-ill man, who feels he got bitten by a vampire, which ends up worsening his condition. Despite being a commercial failure, the film went on to have a cult status.
Throughout the years, Jennifer Beals appeared in several other films such as ‘Dr. M’ (1990), ‘In the Soup’ (1992), ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’ (1993), ‘The Search for One-Eye Jimmy’ (1994), and ‘Four Rooms’ (1995). She was also considered for the role of Catwoman in the 1992 film 'Batman Returns', though she declined it.
In 1995, she earned a nomination for the NAACP Image Award for her role in the American mystery movie 'Devil in Blue Dress'. The film was directed by Carl Franklin, and was based on a novel of the same name by Walter Mosley. She continued to appear in several other movies such as 'Wishful Thinking' (1997), 'Militia' (2000), 'Troubled Waters' (2006), and 'The Book of Eli' (2010).
Meanwhile she also appeared in television in several shows and TV movies such as '2000 Malibu Road', 'Indecency', and 'The Outer Limits'. For her role in the 1997 TV movie 'The Twilight of the Golds' she won the 'Satellite Award' for Best Actress.
Her most significant role in television was in the TV series named 'The L Word' a drama series focusing on a few lesbians, their friends, and their lives. The show ran on the Showtime TV network for five years (2004-2009). Her performance was loved by the audience and it earned her two award nominations.
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Her success in 'The L Word' earned her significant roles in other TV shows such as 'The Chicago Code', an American crime drama TV series, and 'Proof', another American drama TV series. Her latest role on TV is in the action thriller drama series named 'Taken', which started airing from 2017.
Some of her most recent films are 'Manhattan Night', a 2016 American crime film, which was directed by DeCubellis, and 'Before I Fall', a 2017 American drama film, directed by Ry Russo-Young.
'Flashdance,' a 1983 American romantic musical drama film, was the first significant work in Beals' career. Though the film had initially received negative reviews from critics, it became a hit at the box office, and also became the third highest grossing film of the year. Beals appears in the film in the role of an eighteen-year-old girl named Alexandra, who works as a welder at a mill, but has great aspirations to become a dancer.
'Devil in a Blue Dress' was another significant work in Beals' career. Directed by Carl Franklin, the film is based on a novel of the same name by Walter Mosley. The film received mixed reviews. For her role, Beals received a nomination for the NAACP Image Award' for Best Actress.
One of Jennifer Beals' recent significant works is the 2016 American crime film 'Manhattan Night'. The film is based on a 1996 novel 'Manhattan Nocturne' by Colin Harrison. Starring several well-known actors such as Adrien Broy, Yvonne Strahovki, and Campbell Scott, the film premiered on May 20, 2016.
'The L Word,' a television drama series about the lives of a few lesbians, can be regarded as Beals' most significant work on television. The show began airing in 2004 on Showtime TV Network and ran for five years till 2009. The show was a huge hit worldwide. It also earned Beals two award nominations.
'The Chicago Code', an American crime drama series was another one among the major works in Beals' career. The series started airing from February 2011, but got cancelled due to a few reasons in May. The show earned mostly favorable reviews from critics. Despite the fact that it aired for a very short time, it did manage to gain some popularity, and was even aired in Canada as well as the UK.
Awards & Achievements
Jennifer Beals received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress, for her brilliant performance in the movie 'Flashdance' in 1983.
She won the Satellite Award for Best Actress for her outstanding acting in the 1997 TV movie 'The Twilight of the Golds'.
Personal Life & Legacy
Jennifer Beals’ first husband was Alexandre Rockwell, an American film director, whom she married in 1986. They divorced in 1996.
She married Ken Dixon, a Canadian entrepreneur in 1998. In October 2005, she gave birth to their daughter.
She is known as a strong advocate for gay rights.
She practices kung-fu, shanshou as well as kick-boxing, and has an interest in ballet, salsa as well as belly dancing.