Though her role as the unlikely girlfriend of the eponymous dunderheaded character in Wayne’s World (1992) would propel actress/model/singer Tia Carrere into what was seemingly an overnight success, the multi-talented entertainer had been appearing onscreen and making a name for herself as a vocalist since the mid-’80s.
Althea Janairo was born January 2, 1967, in Honolulu, Hawaii. A mix of Hawaiian, Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino ancestry, young Althea is the eldest of two siblings. We know her today as Tia Carrere since her younger sister Alesaundra had difficulty pronouncing Althea’s name. Now with an easier name — Tia — the aspiring singer changed her last name to Carrera, apparently as a tribute to the actress Barbara Carrera. By the age of 11, Tia Carrere was taking voice lessons to fulfil her dreams of becoming a singer, but fate played its part.
Tia was discovered in true Hollywood fashion. While shopping in a grocery store, she was approached by an elderly couple whose son was about to start shooting a coming-of-age film called “Aloha summer” and needed a young actress for the starring role. Tia landed that role, put the money in her pocket, and headed for Los Angeles with a desire to take her new acting career further.
While there, Tia had also begun to develop a modelling career, while several bit parts came her way. She appeared in popular television shows such as The A-Team, MacGyver, but hit it big when she was cast in the recurring role of nurse Jade Soong Chung, in the daytime soap, General Hospital in 1985. After her two-year stint as a nurse, Tia’s television resume was gradually increasing, and included appearances in Tour of Duty, Anything But Love, Friday the 13th, and Quantum Leap, as well as credits in Made-for-TV movies such as Noble House, The Road Raiders and Fine Gold. Tia Carrere then made the leap to the silver screen with film roles in Showdown in Little Tokyo (where she had a body double appear nude for her) and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, both in 1991.
But it was after she co-starred with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in the comedy Wayne’s World in 1992 (a role she chose over Baywatch), that American audiences really took notice of the Hawaiian beauty. As Wayne’s dream girl, aspiring rock star Cassandra, Tia Carrere made it clear that she’s worthy of a skewing or two. Tia Carrere contributed several songs to the film’s soundtrack, which wasn’t such as stretch for the vocalist. She had musical experience as the former vocalist of a rock band and a jazz orchestra. She even released her debut album, Dream, which didn’t end up doing too dreamily, expect for in the Philippines.
Tia then joined Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes to star in Rising Sun, and reprise her role of Cassandra in the 1993 sequel to the hugely successful Wayne’s World. In 1994, Tia appeared as Juno Skinner in the Schwarzenegger hit True Lies, and appeared in the films Treacherous and Hostile Intentions that same year. By the time she starred in the comedy High School High in 1996, Tia had already completed at least 15 films, and she was on her way to even more film and television roles. In 1997, Tia co-starred with Hercules star Kevin Sorbo in Kull the Conqueror, and provided her voice for Disney’s animated television version of the film Hercules. In 1998, she made a cameo appearance in the film 20 Dates, for which she also served as executive producer.
Tia Carrere can presently be seen as Sydney Fox in the action television series Relic Hunter. The talented “megababe” lives in Los Angeles, where she is an active supporter of charitable organisations such as Planned Parenthood.
Tia and her husband Elie Samaha formed Phoeniciiciian Films, which has produced an astonishing number of projects, some, of which Tia has starred in. Her latest movie called ‘SHI’ is a movie based on the best-selling comic book.
When she’s not filming, Tia enjoys a successful music career. She started up as a singer in a local band that played Black Sabbath and AC/DC covers and in a jazz orchestra. Later she sang on the Wayne’s world 1 album, and after that she released the album DREAM that sold to platinum in the Philippines.