Jennifer Beals is an American actress and a former teen model. She played the role of Alexandra "Alex" Owens in the 1983 film "Flashdance," and appeared as Bette Porter on the Showtime drama series "The L Word." She earned an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Globe Award nomination for the former. She has appeared in more than 50 films. She is multiracial; her father was African American, and her mother is Irish American. 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."
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. Beals attended Yale University, receiving a B.A. in American literature in 1987; she deferred a term so she could film "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.
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," shot during her summer break. Starring opposite Nicolas Cage, the actress portrays a lusty and thirsty vampire in 1989's "Vampire's Kiss."
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 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. 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.
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.
On March 10, 2014, it was announced that Beals would star as Dr. Kathryn Russo 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.
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.
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. She has a book about her time on "The L Word" featuring her own photographs. In 1989, she spent some time in Haiti photographing the elections. She is also a triathlete.
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