Irene Cara's Film Career

Irene Cara as James Earl Jones’ estranged daughter in the short-lived series “Gabriel’s Fire”. Miss Cara counts Mr. Jones as one of the finest and most professional actors she has ever had the privilege of working with. This particular episode was directed by the talented actor/director Mario Van Peebles, son of legendary director Melvin Van Peebles.

Welcome to the newest special feature of, Irene Cara’s Movie Homepage.

Throughout her career, Irene Cara has worked with some of the finest actors on both the large and small screens. Her biography is full of films that have achieved critical acclaim and box office success. But that’s only part of the story.

Here on her TV and Movie page, Irene Cara shares personal tidbits about her relationships with these actors, her characters and other related items, that you won’t find anywhere else.

James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones

Here is a bit of trivia for you Irene Cara fans: Miss Cara played Mr. Jones mother as an adolescent years earlier in the ground breaking television mini series “Roots, The Next Generation.” Mr. Jones played the famous author Alex Haley. Miss Cara played Bertha Haley. Irony would have it that she would play his daughter over a decade later!

Cara opposite the veteran screen star George Segal in a Canadian film production shot in New York City and Montreal. Miss Cara enjoyed his playfulness, generosity, and youthful sense of humor. The movie was originally named “The Man in Apartment 5A” but the title was later changed to “Killing Him Softly.” The movie co-starred the prominent Canadian actor, Nicolas Campbell.

George Segal
Irene Cara in a dramatic moment

A tense dramatic moment from Irene’s character
who suspects Segal of framing her boyfriend.

A classic moment from the career making picture “Fame.” Here, Irene in the role of “Coco” is singing her heart out at the piano. The song was the Academy Award nominated “Out Here On My Own.”

Irene as Coco in Fame!
Irene as Coco in Fame!

Although the piano part was recorded by a professional pianist, Irene learned the music and was actually playing as well as singing the song for the shoot.

Lee Curreri’s character, Bruno, is smitten with Coco in this quiet moment after she finishes the classic ballad. Although their underlying attraction is never fully explored in the storyline, their collaboration and affection for each other comes through in the film. Their characters would also go on to produce the song “Fame” in the movie which was the other Oscar nominated song that eventually ended up winning in the Best Original Song category.

Lee Curreri’s character, Bruno, is smitten with Coco
Irene Cara portrays a speak-easy night club singer in City Heat!

Cara portrays a speak-easy night club singer during Prohibition. The movie “City Heat” starred Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds and Richard Roundtree.

Yet again, Cara’s range as an actress/singer excels as she effortlessly tackles such standards as “Embraceable You.”
She then went on to co-write the film’s theme song, “City
Heat” which was sung by the legendary Joe Williams.

Irene Cara portrays a speak-easy night club singer in City Heat!
Cara portrays a speak-easy night club singer in City Heat!

Her remarkable range of age is again displayed in that here
in the mid-eighties, she plays Richard Roundtree’s girlfriend.
In the early nineties, she would be cast as his daughter for
an Aaron Spelling Television pilot!

Although the film would be categorized as a comedy, Irene’s role as “Ginny Lee” is the most dramatic in the story-line. This scene with Mr. Reynolds was one of her most memorable moments.

Burt Reynolds and Irene as “Ginny Lee”
Burt Reynolds

Miss Cara was thrilled to be working with such an array of brilliant movie stars which included Jane Alexander and Madeline Kahn.

Irene, opposite Dorian Harewood in the Emmy Award winning television series, “Roots, the Next Generation.” This was the sequel to the original “Roots” acclaimed mini-series. Always the classic ingénue, Cara received great notices for her performances in three out of the seven episodes she appeared in.

Dorian Harewood & Irene in the Emmy Award winning television series, “Roots, the Next Generation”
Dorian Harewood & Irene Cara
The role of Bertha Haley would be a new challenge for Irene being that this was her first time portraying a southern bell as well as an historical figure. The sequel carried on where the original left off and included such luminary stars as Henry Fonda, Ozzie Davis, Ruby Dee, Olivia de Havilland and Marlon Brando. James Earl Jones portrayed the author Alex Haley. Haley’s life story and family ancestry was also the basis for his bestselling book.
Cara and Philip Michael Thomas are pictured here in the cult classic movie “Sparkle.” It was Irene’s first Holly wood venture and a major opportunity being that she starred in the title role. It has been considered by many fans over decades to be one of the finest “African American” films of its time and a true milestone in Black Cinema.
Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas in "Sparkle"