Irene Cara (born Irene Escalera on March 18, 1959 in The Bronx, New York City) is an American singer and actress.
Her career started on Spanish-language television as a child, professionally singing and dancing. From there, Cara appeared in on- and off-Broadway theatrical shows including the musical The Me Knowbody Knows, which won an Obie, and Maggie Flynn, opposite Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. By age 8, Cara recorded a Latin-market Spanish-language record; an English Christmas album soon followed.
Her first national exposure was in the educational series The Electric Company, playing a member of the band The Short Circus.
Her first jobs as a teen came on television, getting a role on the soap Love of Life and the classic kids' show The Electric Company.
She is best remembered for singing the themes from Fame and Flashdance. She played Coco Hernandez in Fame, Sparkle in Sparkle, and Angela in romance thriller classic Aaron Loves Angela.
She won both the 1983 Academy Award for Best Song and the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Flashdance (What A Feeling)", from Flashdance.
Along with her successful career in acting, Cara released two albums in the 1980s: Anyone Can See in 1982, and What A Feelin' in 1983.
In June 2005, Irene won the third round of NBC television series Hit Me Baby One More Time, performing "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" and covered Anastacia's hit "I'm Outta Love" with her current band, Hot Caramel.