(born December 19
) is an American film actress
and former teen model
. She is known for her roles as Alexandra "Alex" Owens in the 1983 film Flashdance
and as Bette Porter
on the lesbian
-themed drama series The L Word
. She has appeared in more than 50 movies.
Beals was born in Chicago
, the daughter of Jeanne, an elementary school teacher, and Alfred Beals, who owned a grocery store. Her father was African-American
and her mother was Jewish
and Irish American
. She has two brothers, Bobby and Gregory. Her father died when Beals was ten years old and her mother re-married to Edward Cohen. Beals stated that her biracial
heritage had some impact on her, as she "always lived sort-of on the outside", with an idea "of being the other in society". She graduated from the Francis W. Parker School
and Yale University
, receiving a B.A.
in American Literature, 1987.
Beals had a minor role in the 1980 film My Bodyguard
, then came to fame with her starring part in Flashdance
. The third-highest grossing U.S. film of 1983, it was the story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and exotic dancer by night, whose dream is to someday be accepted 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.
After its release, it was revealed that many of Beals' elaborate dance moves were actually performed by double Marine Jahan.
A number of interesting roles came Beals' way following that breakout performance. She and singer-actor Sting were cast as the leads in 1985's The Bride, a gothic horror film loosely based on the 1935 classic Bride of Frankenstein. Beals was cast as Eva, quite literally a beautiful creature, brought to life by Dr. Frankenstein to be a mate for his monster.
Starring opposite Nicolas Cage, the actress portrayed a lusty and thirsty vampire who may or may not be a figment of a man's imagination 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 played a biracial woman passing for white. She has played similar roles throughout her career. That same year she appeared with Tim Roth in a segment of the four-story anthology Four Rooms 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.
Recently, she had a leading role in 2006's The Grudge 2, sequel to the hit horror film of two years earlier.
In 2007. Little TV drama -My Name Is Sarah- in which she plays Sarah Winston. Sober woman who joins Alcoholics Anonymous to be with a man she loves.The interplay between Sarah and her 'love' was sweet throughout,and it was beautiful to see a couple's relationship grow slowly rather than race to a quick end.
Beals currently stars in Showtime Network's The L Word, where she plays Bette Porter, an Ivy League educated lesbian.
Beals was married to Alexandre Rockwell
from 1986 to 1996. In 1998, she married Ken Dixon, a Canadian entrepreneur. She and Dixon had a daughter in October 2005, and Dixon has two children from a previous marriage. Beals has described herself as a "spiritual person".
Beals is a close friend of Quentin Tarantino and has been best friends with actress Marlee Matlin, who currently stars as Jodi Lerner on The L Word, since they met in an airport in the 1980s.
Beals was a Celebrity Grand Marshall at the 2006 San Francisco Pride Parade.