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Tia Carrere Biography

Home > Actresses > C > Carrere, Tia > Biography

Birth Name: Tia Carrere
Born: 01/02/1967
Birth Place: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Born Althea Rae Duhinio Janairo on Jan. 2, 1967 in Honolulu, HI, Carrere would become known simply as "Tia" due to her younger sister's inability to pronounce her given name. Her banker father, Alexander, and her computer supervisor mother, Audrey, would pass along the combined traits of their Chinese, Spanish and Filipino ethnicities to their eldest daughter, imbuing her with an undeniably exotic beauty. Shortly after graduating from Sacred Hearts Academy, Carrere made the journey to Los Angeles in pursuit of a singing career. In 1985, she was a contestant on "Ed McMahon's Star Search" (syndicated, 1983-1995), and although eliminated in the first round, she remained determined enough that she was soon landing local modeling jobs. Later that year, Carrere made a brief appearance on the television series "Cover Up" (CBS, 1984-85) as a beauty contestant, and landed a more substantial part on CBS' action series, "Airwolf" (1983-86). It was a busy year for the young Carrere, when she also joined the cast of the daytime soap "General Hospital" (ABC, 1962- ). The job turned out to be a mixed blessing when, after guesting on an episode of "The A-Team" (NBC, 1982-87) in 1986, Carrere was unable to accept an offer to join the fabled cast fulltime due to her commitment with the soap opera.

Carrere's television work did not prevent her from landing her first feature film role, a bit part in the 1986 schlockfest, "Zombie Nightmare." Not long afterwards she would have a much more significant role in "Aloha Summer" (1988), filmed in her home state of Hawaii. After a string of appearances in various series such as "MacGyver" (ABC, 1985-1992), she was cast in two more features. Unfortunately, the futuristic shoot-em-up "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man" (1991), starring fading heartthrobs Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson, was an unmitigated train wreck. The other, "Showdown in Little Tokyo" (1991), headlined by strongman Dolph Lundgren and the son of the legendary Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, barely registered at the box office. In each of these forgettable films Carrere's parts amounted to little more than cinematic eye candy. With her next role, however, the actress turned that stereotype on its head as the funny, butt-kicking rocker in the smash comedy, "Wayne's World" (1992), a feature take on a popular "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) skit. As the ultimate "babe" in Aurora, IL, Carrere's Cassandra aptly supported the rock-n-roll wannabes Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) as the slacker best friends who broadcast their cable access program from Wayne's basement before becoming involved in local music and TV scene shenanigans. In order to audition for the part, Carrere had turned down an offer to join the cast of the syndicated series "Baywatch" (1989-1999). It proved to be a wise decision, as the film with the tagline, "You'll Laugh! You'll Cry! You'll Hurl!" became a monster hit, garnering Carrere major recognition, as well as a chance to display her singing talents; most notably as she rocked out to "Ballroom Blitz."

The following year, Carrere parlayed her "Wayne's World" success into a role alongside some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters in "Rising Sun" (1993). The thriller starred Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes, and allowed Carrere to portray a character possessing an equal measure of brains and beauty as computer expert Jingo Asakuma. The same year, Carrere reprised her role as Wayne Campbell's improbable soul mate, Cassandra, in "Wayne's World 2" (1993), and was once again provided the opportunity to sing onscreen. She also performed the closing song for the animated feature "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (1993). Carrere's star was definitely on the rise and would reach its apex in director James Cameron's massively successful action-comedy, "True Lies" (1994), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a seemingly normal husband and father who covertly works as a government agent within a counter-terrorism task force. In the blockbuster, Carrere played the delectable, yet deadly, Juno Skinner with unmistakable relish. One of the film's widely acknowledged highlights was the hilariously vicious brawl between Carrere and co-star Jamie Lee Curtis in the back of an out-of-control limousine.

Post-"True Lies," Carrere's upward trajectory began to level out. What followed were a series of roles in lesser films, such as the deplorable comedies "Jury Duty" (1995), with Pauley Shore, as well as the John Lovitz vehicle, "High School High" (1996). Her appearance as the evil Akivasha in the cringe-inducing sword and sandal fantasy adventure "Kull the Conqueror" (1997) only underscored the actress' career trend. Carrere's husband at the time, former restaurateur-turned-producer Elie Samaha, had been working on developing projects for her, one of them being the mockumentary "20 Dates" (1999), but none of the ventures proved fruitful. In 1999, Carrere took the lead role on the syndicated series "Relic Hunter" (1999-2002), a blatant imitator of the successful "Tomb Raider" franchise, playing globe-trotting adventurer Sydney Fox. About the time that series was winding down, a welcome windfall arrived in the form of providing the voice of Lilo's older sister, Nani, in Disney's animated feature "Lilo & Stitch" (2002). Juxtaposing this kid-friendly turn was Carrere inexplicably posing nude in Playboy magazine in 2003. This move was surprising, considering she had previously required a body double for a nude scene in "Showdown in Little Tokyo" and had professed an aversion toward doing any kind of nudity earlier in her career.

The work on "Lilo & Stitch" led to more voice work for Carrere, including reprising the role of Nani on "Lilo & Stitch: The Series" (The Disney Channel, 2003-06), and in several episodes of Cartoon Network's "Duck Dodgers" (2003-05). In 2006, Carrere joined the celebrity cast for the second season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" (2005- ) and performed admirably, although not enough to prevent being voted off mid-competition with a sixth place finish. Carrere closed out the decade with recurring guest spots on several episodic series, including Larry David's improvisational comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ), on which she played Richard Lewis' girlfriend; "Warehouse 13" (SyFy, 2008- ); and the Canadian medical drama, "Combat Hospital" (Global, 2011- ). She next joined the cast of "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ), appearing alongside the likes of Clay Aiken, Lou "Hulk" Ferrigno and Arsenio Hall.