Carrie Ann Inaba is a veteran choreographer most recognized as a judge on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as for her work on such popular series as “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
As a child, Inaba explored dance forms, played the piano and violin, and sang in the choir. She found early success as a musical artist overseas in Japan. One of her first jobs was on “In Living Color“ (1990), where she bacame one of the first Asian Americans to perform contemporary dance on national television as one of the Fly Girls, a collection of multi-ethnic dancers who performed during breaks between comedy skits. The Fly Girls were at the forefront of bringing Hip Hop to mainstream television.
On the big screen, Inaba costarred as Fook Yu in New Line Cinemas’ “Austin Powers: Goldmember” and earlier as Felicity Dancer in “Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” She was also featured in “American Virgin” and “Monster Mash,” and as a dancer in “Boys and Girls,” “Flintstones II,” “Showgirls” and “Lord of Illusions.”
On television she has enchanted with her choreography on ABC’s “Dance Wars: Bruno vs Carrie Ann,” “Miss America” pageant, “American Idol,” “American Juniors,” “Dance Fever” -- in which she also served as backstage host -- “The TV Land Awards” and “The Kids Choice Awards.” She was also host of Game Show Network’s “1 VS. 100” and TV Guide’s “Red Carpet Live,” pioneered TV Guide’s “Fashion Wrap with Carrie Ann,” was guest host for “Live! with Regis and Kelly” and “Live with Kelly,” “The View,” guest starred as Hannah Montana’s choreographer, Tina, and was host and presenter of the American Music Awards’ “Red Carpet Exclusive.”
Inaba’s passions are not confined to dance and entertainment: In 2012 she launched The Carrie Ann Inaba Animal Project, collaborating with rescue and animal organizations to create programs that help end the killing of millions of animals. Their annual fundraising gala, “Terps and Tails,” is a celebrity-filled evening of fine dining and dance. In addition Inaba has partnered with the Petsami Network to co-create and executive produce the cat adoption web series “Crib Cats,” and with Lisa Erspamer and The Forum Entertainment Group to develop programing that features and highlights the human-animal bond. In 2009 she appeared in a PETA campaign that taught the ABC’s of animal birth control, and she is a celebrity ambassador for Best Friends Animal Shelter.
Inaba joined the Board of Directors of C.A.P.E, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, in 2011. In addition she is the national spokesperson for Drea’s Dream, a national program that raises funds for dance therapy for pediatric cancer patients.