At age three, Irene Cara was one of five finalists for the Little Miss America Pageant. From there, Irene captivated her first musical audience - her family - sometime after her fifth birthday by playing piano by ear. She began her professional life as a child, singing and dancing on Spanish television. She went on to appear in various theater shows such as The Me Knowbody Knows and Maggie Flynn, starring Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy.
From theater, Irene moved into television, garnering a stint on the Electric Company, where she played a member of the rock group, The Short Circus. During this time, she recorded her first record for the Latino market at age eight and a Christmas LP in English shortly thereafter. While she also starred in two mini series, Roots: The Next Generation and The Guyanna Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones, she made her first huge hit in 1980 as Coco Hernandez in the box office smash, Fame.
Fame brought Irene her 1980 Grammy nominations for "Best New Female Artist" and "Best New Pop Artist" as well as a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical." From her fan site:
In 1982 she received the Image Award for Best Actress when she co-starred with Diahann Carroll and Rosalind Cash in the NBC Movie of the Week, Sisters . Further demonstrating her diversity, Irene portrayed Myrlie Evers in the PBS movie about Civil Rights Leader Medger Evers.The film called For Us the Living, cast Irene opposite Howard Rollins of A Soldier's Story fame in which Miss Cara received an NAACP Image Award Best Actress nomination for her portrayal as Mylie Evers.
In 1983, for her success with Flashdance, She was presented with five major awards, including "Top Female Vocalist-Pop Singles,""Black Contemporary Female Vocalist-Pop Singles,""Top Pop Crossover Artist-Black Contemporary Singles," and "Pop Single of the Year." As a songwriter Irene’s talent earned her an Academy Award, two Grammy’s, a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award for Flashdance…What a Feeling.
Irene now is concentrating on songwriting and production and writing several movie scripts for her to star. In 2006 she was given an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution in the African-American community by the Columbus Times of Georgia, which is the oldest black newspaper in the country. Cara lives in Florida and works with her band Hot Caramel. She appeared in season 2 of CMT's reality show Gone Country, but left the show realizing she "was not cut out for reality television." Other online sources have stated her date of birth as 1959. Miss Cara disputes this and claims her correct date of birth is March 18, 1962.