Jennifer Beals was inspired to become an actress during a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof, as well as a stint volunteering at Chicago's Steppenwolfe Theatre. She took up American literature at Yale University.
During her time at Yale, Beals had her breakout role, appearing in the 1983 film Flashdance; it earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She then resumed her studies, only returning to full-time acting after her graduation in 1987. She has since appeared in films such as Vampire's Kiss, Devil in a Blue Dress, Four Rooms, Runaway Jury, The Grudge 2 and The Book of Eli.
Beals made her regular television debut in the short-lived soap 2000 Malibu Road. However, her best-known TV role was in the Showtime drama The L Word, where she played Ivy League lesbian Bette Porter. She recently starred in the acclaimed but short-lived Fox series The Chicago Code, and also appeared in several episodes of Lie to Me.
Beals was married twice, and is currently married to Canadian entrepreneur Ken Dixon. They have one child together.
- While Jennifer Beals played the lead in Flashdance, her stunt double -- Marine Jahan -- actually performed many of her dances.
- Image Award, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture, 1984 (for Flashdance)
- Satellite Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, 1998 (for The Twilight of the Golds)
- Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, Maverick Tribute Award, 1999
- GLAAD Media Award, Golden Gate Award, 2005
- Flashdance (1983)
- The Bride (1985)
- The Gamble (1988)
- Vampire's Kiss (1988)
- Split Decisions (1988)
- Dr. M (1990)
- Sons (1990)
- Blood and Concrete (1991)
- In the Soup (1992)
- Le Grand Pardon II (1992)
- The Princess and the Cobbler (voice, 1993)
- Dead on Sight (1994)
- Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994)
- The Search for the One-Eye Jimmy (1994)
- Four Rooms (1995)
- Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
- Let It Be Me (1995)
- The Twilight of the Golds (1996)
- The Last Days of Disco (1998)
- Wishful Thinking (1999)
- Something More (1999)
- Fear of Flying (1999)
- Body and Soul (2000)
- Militia (2000)
- Out of Line (2001)
- The Anniversary Party (2001)
- 13 Moons (2002)
- Roger Dodger (2002)
- Runaway Jury (2003)
- Catch That Kid (2004)
- Break a Leg (2005)
- Desolation Sound (2005)
- The Grudge 2 (2006)
- Troubled Waters (2006)
- Joueuse (2009)
- The Book of Eli (2010)
- A Night for Dying Tigers (2010)
- 2000 Malibu Road (recurring, 1992)
- The L Word (regular, 2004-2009)
- The Chicago Code (regular, 2011)
"It's been perfect. I can still ride a subway and work with great people. I can't imagine being Julia Roberts. I don't have the fortitude to withstand that kind of attention." - when asked by People Magazine about her standing in Hollywood today.
"I'm always shocked that gay marriage is such a big deal. You have to realize how precious human life is, when there are tsunamis and mudslides, when there are armies and terrorists - at any moment, you could be gone, and potentially in the most brutal fashion. And then you have to realize that love is truly one of the most extraordinary things you can experience in your life. To begrudge someone else their love of another person because of gender seems to be absolutely absurd. It's based in fear, fear of the other, fear of what is not like you. But when you are able to see lives on a day-to-day basis, rather than reducing it to politics, then it humanizes a whole community of people that were otherwise invisible."