Jennifer Beals is an American actress who launched to stardom with the lead role in the 1983 hit "Flashdance." She also starred on "The L Word."

Who Is Jennifer Beals?

Actress Jennifer Beals had just one small part in a film before she shot to stardom as Alex Owens in the 1983 hit Flashdance. After two decades performing in both independent and major motion pictures, alongside such actors as Nicolas Cage and Denzel Washington, Beals landed a leading role on The L Word, which aired from 2004 to 2009. She continues to act in films and on TV.

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Early Life

Beals was born on December 19, 1963, in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother is an Irish American and her father is an African American and Beals has said that she's always felt "other," or that she's lived outside the norm.


Beals became interested in pursuing a career in acting after performing in her high school's production of Fiddler on the Roof and studied at the Goodman Theater in Chicago before attending Yale University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature in 1987.

Movies and Television Roles

'Flashdance'

After just one minor role in the 1980 flick My Bodyguard, Beals landed the lead in 1983's Flashdance while studying at Yale. The role earned her a Golden Globe nomination and shot her to stardom. Many of the complicated dance scenes were performed by a double, and four different doubles appear in her audition scene, including one male dancer who donned a wig.


When Flashdance wrapped, Beals returned to college. She made one film during her summer break, The Bride, an interpretation of Bride of Frankenstein, starring alongside singer Sting of The Police. However, she turned down other acting opportunities, including a part in St. Elmo's Fire.

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Beals' next major motion picture appearance was alongside Nicolas Cage in the 1989 dark comedy Vampire Kiss. In 1992 she starred in the TV show 2000 Malibu Road, which was canceled after one season. She then acted primarily in smaller, independent movies for several years, before making Devil in Blue Dress with Denzel Washington in 1995. She continued to work regularly throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, in indie films, as well as in non-leading roles in films like The Last Days of Disco, with Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale; The Anniversary Party, with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming; and Runaway Jury, with John Cusack and Gene Hackman.