Tia Carrere, up to this point, has enjoyed a nice career. The singer/actress has seen both the highs and lows that Hollywood has to offer, but has persevered, nonetheless. So, what has this once red-hot actress been up to lately?
Tia Carrere got her first acting gig on the TV series Airwolf following that up with a turn on the long-running soap opera General Hospital. Early on she was also seen in TV series such as The Insiders, Tour of Duty, MacGyver, Quantum Leap, and Married…With Children.
Tia Carrere was also stepping out onto the feature film side of the business as she found roles in Aloha Summer, Fine Gold, Enemy, Showdown in Little Tokyo, and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.
When Tia Carrere took on the role as Cassandra Wong in the 1993 Mike Myers and Dana Carvey-led Wayne’s World, she had just about every male across the nation “schwing’ing.” As Wong, she was the rock singing love interest of Myers’ Wayne. The talented actress performed all of her own songs in the film, and she is also featured in the Wayne’s World soundtrack.
Tia Carrere would follow up the hit comedy film with its sequel, Wayne’s World 2, the very next year. While the movie was not as successful as its predecessor, it continued to push Carrere into the bright lights of Hollywood.
BIGGER AND BIGGER
Tia Carrere’s career was in full, uh, “schwing” at this point. She was in the Michael Crichton hit Rising Sun, starring opposite the late screen legend Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes, before grabbing a role in James Cameron’s hit and Arnold Schwarzenegger-led True Lies. Carrere went back to comedy (if one can actually call it that) in Pauly Shore’s Jury Duty and wildly uneven and only sporadically funny High School High.
After a series of somewhat forgettable films like Kull the Conqueror, Top of the World, Scar City, Five Aces, and Merlin: The Return, Tia Carrere found herself back on the small screen in Relic Hunter. For Carrere, the series was a hit, lasting three seasons. In it, she played Sydney Fox a black belt university professor who is also a globe-trotting relic hunter, much in the vein of Indiana Jones. The series followed Sydney with her loyal linguistic assistant Nigel as they searched out ancient artifacts in order to return them to their rightful owners or museums.
Relic Hunter would eventually lead Carrere to the House of Mouse aka the Walt Disney Company.
DISNEY CALLS, TIA CARRERE ANSWERS
Perhaps Tia Carrere’s most famous role is a role where you don’t even see her. In 2002, Carrere was tabbed to voice Lilo’s older sister Nani and she simply ran with the part. Carrere, who is of Hawaiian descent, along with co-voice Jason Scott Lee, made significant contributions to the script to help give the dialogue the proper colloquial dialect as well as adding some well-known Hawaiian slang terms.
Initially, Stitch creator Chris Sanders had set the story in Kansas, as it needed a remote, non-urban location to bring Stitch’s story to life. But the decision to move the setting to Hawaii was pure gold and gave the story the bright, colorful life it needed. It was the first time an animated feature film took place in the Hawaiian Islands.
“Animation has been set so much in ancient, medieval Europe,” Sanders says via Hana Hou. “So many fairy tales find their roots there, that to place it in Hawaiʻi was kind of a big leap. But that choice went to color the entire movie and rewrite the story for us.”
Lilo & Stitch would not be the last time Tia Carrere would voice the role of Nani. The actress would revisit Nani in three more Disney films (Stitch! The Movie, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, Leroy & Stitch) as well as voicing Nani for the Disney series Lilo & Stitch: The Series, which totaled 18 episodes.
THEN TIA CARRERE POSED FOR PLAYBOY
“Schwing” went into overdrive for many when Tia Carrere decided to pose for Playboy in 2003. Obviously, Disney didn’t object to Carrere baring it all for Mr. Bunny Ears as they brought her back time and again to voice Nani.
Her Playboy pictorial was a hit but that didn’t really translate to the big screen.
YES, TIA CARRERE SINGS
Tia Carrere cut her first studio album, Dream, in 1993. As previously mentioned, she performed her own vocals in Wayne’s World while also lending her vocal talents to Lilo & Stitch. Her singing career brought her four more albums, Hawaiiana in 2007, ‘Ikena in 2008, He Nani in 2009, and Huana Ke Aloha in 2010.
While her albums may not sound like much, they actually are. Tia Carrere won a Grammy for her third album, He Nani and then in 2011, took home her second Grammy for Best Hawaiian Music Album for Huana Ke Aloha.
MORE VOCAL WORK
Her vocal work in the movies wasn’t only relegated to Lilo & Stitch. In fact, Tia Carrere has carved out a nice career doing vocal work on many other projects. She has been a large part of a number of animated TV series such as Johnny Bravo, American Dragon: Jake Long, Duck Dodgers, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and Stretch Armstrong & the Flex Fighters. Carrere has even gone back to her Disney roots on Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures.
Tia Carrere has also been part of the video game world as she has lent her voice on the 1995 game The Daedalus Encounter, then again in 2006 with Saints Row. She was also set to return in Saints Row IV, but her content was cut from the game.
Over the past few years, Tia Carrere has continued to do vocal work on TV. She has also found time on a few TV series (Blue Bloods, Dollface, The Potwins). Her biggest claim to fame lately, though, has been on the Netflix series AJ and the Queen starring as Lady Danger. The series follows a down-on-her-luck drag queen, played by RuPaul, who travels across America in her rundown 1986 RV with a very unlikely sidekick, a 10-year-old orphaned runaway.
If that series doesn’t work for you, fear not. Tia Carrere does have a couple more projects lined up. Of course, you can always go back into her catalog for more of her popular films. Wayne’s World is always a great place to start. Schwing.