Jennifer Beals

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Jennifer Beals
Jennifer Beals at GLAAD Awards cropped.jpg
Beals at the GLAAD Awards in 2009
Born (1963-12-19) December 19, 1963 (age 51)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation Actress
Model (former)
Years active 1980–present
Spouse(s) Alexandre Rockwell
(m. 1986–1996; divorced)
Ken Dixon
(m. 1998–present; 1 daughter)

Jennifer Beals (born December 19, 1963) 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.

Early life[edit]

Jennifer Beals was born on December 19, 1963 on the South Side of Chicago,[1] the daughter of Jeanne (née Anderson), an elementary school teacher, and Alfred Beals, who owned grocery stores.[2][3] She is bi-racial;[4] her father was African American, and her mother is Irish American.[5] She has two brothers, Bobby and Gregory.[6] Her father died when Beals was ten years old,[7] and her mother married Edward Cohen in 1981.[8] 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".[5] She got her first job at age 13 at an ice cream store, using her height at the time (she is now nearly 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)), to convince her boss she was 16.[7]

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.[9]

Beals graduated from the progressive Francis W. Parker School.[10] She also was chosen to attend the elite Goodman Theatre Young People's Drama Workshop.[11] Beals attended Yale University, receiving a B.A. in American literature in 1987;[12] she deferred a term so she could film Flashdance.[10] While at Yale, Beals was a resident of Morse College.[12]



Beals in Sweden during promotion for Flashdance, July 1983

Beals had a minor role in the 1980 film My Bodyguard,[13] 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.[14]

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,[15] shot during her summer break.[16] She also appeared in the "Cinderella" episode of Faerie Tale Theatre.[13] Beals was asked by Joel Schumacher to do St. Elmo's Fire but turned it down, preferring to stay at Yale.[17]

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 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.[18] 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.[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".[11]

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 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[edit]

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[edit]

Beals was married to Alexandre Rockwell from 1986 to 1996.[5] 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, and is a practicing Buddhist.[37][38]

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."[39] Beals was a Celebrity Grand Marshal at the 2006 San Francisco Pride Parade.[40] 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.[41]

Beals is a photographer, who has had shows of her work under her married name, Dixon.[42] She has a book about her time on The L Word featuring her own photographs.[43] In 1989, she spent some time in Haiti photographing the elections.[44]

She is also a triathlete.[45][46]

In 2010, Beals served as the Grand Marshal of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago,[47] during which she spoke of the two charities important to her, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Pablove Foundation.[48]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 My Bodyguard Clifford's Friend Uncredited
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 aka La Partita
1988 Split Decisions Barbara Uribe
1989 Vampire's Kiss Rachel
1989 Sons Transgender
1990 Dr. M Sonja Vogler
1990 Tinikling ou 'La madonne et le dragon Patty Meredith Television movie
1991 Blood and Concrete Mona
1992 In the Soup Angelica Pena
1992 Day of Atonement Joyce
1992 Indecency Ellie Shaw Television movie
1992 Terror Stalks the Class Reunion (fr) Virginia Television movie
1993 Caro diario Herself
1993 The Thief and the Cobbler Princess YumYum Voice
1993 Night Owl Julia Television movie
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
1997 The Twilight of the Golds Suzanne Stein Television movie
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1998 Body and Soul Gina
1998 The Prophecy II Valerie Rosales
1998 The Last Days of Disco Nina
1998 The Spree Xinia Kelly Television movie
1999 Something More Lisa
1999 Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying Jessica
2000 Militia Julie Sanders
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 Out of Line Parole Officer Jenny Capitanas
2001 The Anniversary Party Gina Taylor
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 13 Moons Suzi
2002 Roger Dodger Sophie
2002 They Shoot Divas, Don't They? Sloan McBride Television movie
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
2007 My Name Is Sarah Sarah Winston Television movie
2009 Queen to Play L'Américaine
2010 The Book of Eli Claudia
2010 A Night for Dying Tigers Melanie
2010 The Night Before the Night Before Christmas Angela Fox Television movie
2013 Cinemanovels Clementine Independent Film
2014 A Wife's Nightmare Liz


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Faerie Tale Theatre Cinderella Episode: "Cinderella"
1992 2000 Malibu Road Perry Quinn 6 episodes
1997 The Outer Limits Robin Dysart Episode: "Bodies of Evidence"
1997–1998 Nothing Sacred Justine Madsen Judd 2 episodes
1999 The Hunger Jane Episode: "And She Laughed"
2004–2009 The L Word Bette Porter 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"
2009–2011 Lie to Me Zoe Landau 6 episodes
2011 The Chicago Code Teresa Colvin 13 episodes
2012 Castle CIA Agent Sophia Turner 2 episodes
2012–2013 Lauren[49] Major Jo Stone 10 episodes
2012–2013 The Mob Doctor Celeste LaPree 4 episodes
2013 Westside Lisa Carver Unsold TV pilot
2014 Motive Sophia Balfur Episode: "They Made Me a Criminal"
2014 Proof Dr. Carolyn Tyler 10 episodes


  1. ^ Mike Thomas (2010-10-24). "'Ride-along' creator, cast case life on street with cops". Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  2. ^ Jennifer Beals Biography (1963–)
  3. ^ "Article on Beals" March 1990, Ebony
  4. ^ Gregg Shapiro (2003-05-21). "Television: The L Word's Jennifer Beals Flashdance Star in Town for HRC Gala". Windy City Times. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  5. ^ a b c Sarah Warn (December 2003). "Jennifer Beals Tackles Issues of Race, Sexuality on The L Word". AfterEllen. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  6. ^ Jennifer Beals Biography |
  7. ^ a b Nancy Mills (2011-02-31). "Jennifer Beals relies on her masculine side for new series". Retrieved 2011-02-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ "With Some Fancy Footwork—not All Her Own—yale Freshman Jennifer Beals Gets Top Marks for Flashdance" May 16, 1983, People Magazine
  9. ^ Andrew Ryan (2011-02-22). "Jennifer Beals: Bringing it all back home". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  10. ^ a b Bob Thomas (1987-06-19). "Actress-Yale Grad returns to films". The Day (New London). Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  11. ^ a b Jerry Buck (1992-08-23). "Character lured Beals to TV role". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  12. ^ a b Mitchell Hoffman (2004-01-23). "TV show may increase lesbian awareness at 'Gay Ivy'". Yale Herald. Archived from the original on 2004-02-15. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  13. ^ a b James Brady (1987-11-29). "In Step With: Jennifer Beals". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  14. ^ Mandi Bierly (2007-10-01). "Maniac on the Floor". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  15. ^ "Flashdancer Jennifer Beals off to meet Frankenstein". Edmonton Journal. 1984-06-11. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  16. ^ James Ryan (1995-10-03). "Jennifer Beals dons blue dress". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  17. ^ Wendy Wallace (1992-08-21). "Four women rebuild their lives and dreams on "2000 Malibu Road"". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  18. ^ Susan King (1992-08-23). "Jennifer Beals Slow Dances To Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  19. ^ "Jennifer Beals Joins Eli". 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  20. ^ "My Name is Sarah". Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Jennifer Beals returns with ‘The L Word'". MSNBC. 2005-02-15. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  22. ^ "Live with Regis and Kelly". Live with Regis and Kelly. 2004-03-31. 
  23. ^ "Fresh Air". Fresh Air. 2004-04-06. National Public Radio. 
  24. ^ Nellie Andreeva (2010-10-14). "Jennifer Beals lands role in Fox drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  25. ^ "Chicago Code Canceled: Fox Scraps Crime Drama After One Season" May 11, 2011, Huffington Post
  26. ^ Monica Rizzo (2011-02-17). "Dancing with the Stars Season 12 Cast - Jennifer Beals Says No". People. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  27. ^ Lynette Rice (February 12, 2013). "ABC drama pilot stages 'L Word' reunion". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  28. ^ Nellie Andreeva (2014-03-09). "Jennifer Beals To Topline TNT Pilot ‘Proof’ Executive Produced By Kyra Sedgwick". Deadline Hollywood Daily. Retrieved 2014-03-09. 
  29. ^ "Lauren". 13 August 2012. 
  30. ^ "Jennifer Beals - Interview - Huffington Post Live (August 15, 2012)". 16 August 2012. 
  31. ^ "Jennifer Beals on the Melissa Harris-Perry show". 19 August 2012. 
  32. ^ "She's back!". 
  33. ^ "I gave you a sneak peek yesterday but now it's official! S2 of #Lauren with @jenniferbeals returns to @wigs on 5/3!". Twitter. Retrieved April 19, 2013. 
  34. ^ ""Lauren" will return in mid-April". 
  35. ^ a b c Alison Gee (2005-11-17). "Jennifer Beals Has a Baby Girl". People. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  36. ^ Chauncé Hayden (2004-04-07). "Jennifer Beals Interview". Steppin' Out. Archived from the original on 2004-04-07. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  37. ^ "Actress speaks on Buddhism and the Dalai Lama" July 18, 2011. Chicago Sin-Times
  38. ^ "Jennifer Beals on QTV". YouTube. 2011-04-18. Retrieved 2013-01-03. 
  39. ^ Jerry Nunn (2011-02-02). "Windy City Times - Jennifer Beals cracks the 'Code' - 2655". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  40. ^ "Grand Marshals". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  41. ^ "Jennifer Beals receives Ally for Equality Award" October 22, 2012,
  42. ^ "DIVA Lesbian Magazine - The B Word: Jennifer Beals". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  43. ^ "Jennifer Beals’ Photography Book Preview is Only Highlight of L Word S6 DVD". 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  44. ^ Novid Parsi (2011-02-02). "Area Code: Jennifer Beals returns to 312 in Fox's new series". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  45. ^ "I'm a Runner: Jennifer Beals from". 
  46. ^ "NY Times Talk Panel: Jennifer Beals is a Perfect Human and Ilene Chaiken Talks A Lot". 
  47. ^ "77th McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade" November 28, 2010. ABC News
  48. ^ "Jennifer Beals represents Pablove in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade" November 25, 2010, Pablove web site
  49. ^ "WIGS". YouTube. 2005-11-29. Retrieved 2013-01-03. 

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