The summer before Jennifer Beals was to begin high school, a friend informed her that the drama teacher was looking for her. The drama teacher informed Beals that the director of “My Bodyguard,” Tony Bell, was looking for extras for his movie. Beals filled out the application and went to the hotel where the interviews were being held. When Jennifer met with Bell, they hit it off so well that he put her in the movie as an extra. After the film, he helped her get an agent.
Beals went to New York to audition and screen-tested in Los Angeles for the role of Alex Owens in the 1980s film “Flashdance.” After the audition, Beals went back to Chicago to pack up her car and headed to Yale University, where she had been accepted. A week or so after school started, she received word that she got the part in “Flashdance.” She asked her dean for permission to defer a semester to do the movie, and he agreed. After returning to Yale, Beals took another term off to film “The Bride,” co-starring with the pop icon, Sting. After graduating from Yale with a degree in American Studies/American Literature, Jennifer began filming “Split Decision.” Over the years Beals has done a number of films including “The Spree,” “Mrs. Parker,” “Vicious Circle,” and an adaptation of Walter Moseley’s mystery novel “Devil in a Blue Dress” which co-starred Denzel Washington. Her TV credits include “Frasier” and “Outer Limits.”
“I wouldn’t say (acting) came by accident,” said Beals, via telephone. “It was something that I love to do, but never dreamed that anyone would pay me to do. It’s not entirely an accident because the desire was there, but I can’t say I was driven to succeed.”
In 2004, Beals returned to television, notably cable, in Showtime’s original series “The L Word” playing the part of Bette Porter. The head of Showtime recommended her for the part. “I met with Ilene Chaiken along with two other people,” said Beals. “I felt there was a lot of room for the show to grow and she signed up for the show.”
The L Word takes a look at the lives of seven lesbians and their lovers in West Hollywood. The show explores more than just their sexuality, it explorers their professional and family lives as well as their friendship with one another. Not only does the show spotlight Beals, but it also stars seventies icon Pam Grier, who portrays Beals’ half-sister, Kit Porter. When describing Grier, Beals said: “Pam is a delightful human being and I learn a lot from her.”
Beals was recently presented with the Golden Gate Award at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Award honors members of the media and entertainment community for outstanding contributions in combating homophobia.
Beals’ next major role will be mother¬hood; she is due to give birth to her first child in November.