Tia Carrere (born Althea Rae Janairo on January 2, 1967) is an American actress,and Grammy award-winning singer, perhaps most widely known for her role as Cassandra Wong in the feature films Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 and as Sydney Fox in the TV series Relic Hunter.
Carrere was born Althea Rae Janairo in Honolulu, Hawaii, the daughter of Audrey Linda Janairo, a computer supervisor, and Alexander Janairo, a banker. Carrere attended Sacred Hearts Academy, an all girls school. Carrere longed to be a singer as a child until she was spotted by the parents of a film producer while shopping at a Waikiki grocery store and was cast in the movie Aloha Summer.
Film and television career
Following this initial success, Carrere moved to Los Angeles and, after working several months as a model, landed her first major break in the daytime drama General Hospital. She played the role of Jade Soong from 1985 to 1987. She also had a guest appearance on The A-Team, which was supposed to lead to her joining the cast. Unfortunately, her General Hospital obligations prevented her from joining the team. Her character on the A-Team, also named Tia, was in the season finale but never returned for the subsequent and final season of the series. She also made guest appearances on the shows MacGyver ("The Wish Child") as a sexy karate instructor as well as a different assassin character in a later episode ("Murderer's Sky"), on Anything But Love as the adopted daughter of Marty Gold (Richard Lewis), and Married... with Children as Piper Bauman, a rival of Kelly Bundy's who attempted to steal a modeling job from her.
After appearing in the 1991 action films Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and Showdown in Little Tokyo, she emerged into the public spotlight when cast as Cassandra, a rock singer and love interest of Mike Myers' character Wayne in Wayne's World (1992)—a role she reprised the next year in Wayne's World 2. A trained singer, Carrere performed all of her own songs in the two films, and the Wayne's World soundtrack features her vocals. Fortunate then that she had stonewalled a role in Baywatch to play out the audition process for Wayne's World. In 1992 People magazine named her to its annual "50 most beautiful people" list.
In 1992, Carrere married Lebanese-American producer Elie Samaha, and unfortunately appeared in several of his straight-to-dvd films. Other roles in prominent films during this time include the parts of art smuggler Juno Skinner in True Lies (a 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger action film), an African-Japanese computer expert in "Rising Sun" (a thriller written by Michael Crichton starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes), and school secretary Victoria Chappell in High School High (a 1996 parody). She also starred as Ari, a space marine-turned pirate in the 1995 computer game The Daedalus Encounter. She also starred as the evil witch/queen in the 1997 Universal Films picture Kull the Conqueror, co-starring with Kevin Sorbo.
After divorcing Samaha, from 1999 to 2002, Carrere starred as archeology professor Sydney Fox in Relic Hunter, a syndicated action-adventure series strongly reminiscent of the Indiana Jones films. At this time, Carrere was featured in the men's magazines Maxim , Stuff, Loaded Relic Hunter lasted for a total of three 22 episode seasons, though it continues to play regularly in several countries around the world. Carrere then provided the voice of Lilo's sister "Nani" in the animated film Lilo and Stitch (2002) "Lilo & Stitch 2" (2004) and its DVD spinoffs and TV series, as well as the voice of Queen Tyr'ahnee from the 2003 Duck Dodgers animated series among others.
She participated as a contestant in season 2 of the hugely popular reality show Dancing with the Stars but was eliminated halfway through probably due in no small part to having just had a baby the month before starting the show.
Carrere used a body double for her love scenes in Showdown in Little Tokyo and "My Teacher's Wife" and expressed an aversion to on-screen nudity, but chose to pose for the January 2003 issue of Playboy magazine, citing her more European sensibilities toward body image and a desire to express a more 'natural' beauty in the magazine's pages. It was the top selling Playboy of 2003. The photos were re-published in the German December 2006 issue of the magazine.
Since her first dreams of singing, Carrere has continued to nurture her musical career. The multi-platinum Wayne's World soundtracks set the stage for her first solo album, Dream, which was released in 1993 on Warner Brother's Records. During that year, she was featured on the soundtrack of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, performing the ending theme, "I Never Even Told You". The music video for the song was directed by film director Marcus Nispel. In June 2007, Carrere returns to her roots on the album "hawaiiana" with four-time Grammy Award winning record producer and childhood friend Daniel Ho accompanying her on classic solo slack-key guitar and ukulele. The album was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award under the category Best Hawaiian Music Album.
She won a Grammy Award in 2009 for her third album 'ikena, also produced by Ho, and was again a nominee at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010 for He Nani, the third album she had recorded with Ho as her producer. At the 51st and 52nd Grammy Awards Tia also served as a performer and co-host for the pre-telecast awards show.
On December 31, 2002 she married journalist and photographer Simon Wakelin. They have a daughter born September 25, 2005. They separated in January 2010. April 2, 2010, Carrere filed for divorce at Los Angeles Superior Court. According to court documents she cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce and asks for sole physical custody of their daughter. Their divorce was finalized in August 2010.
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