Tia Carrere (born Althea Rae Janairo on January 2, 1967) is an American actress, model, voice artist, and singer who obtained her first big break being a regular on the daytime soap opera General Hospital.
She is most widely known for her roles as Cassandra Wong in the feature films Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2, Nani in Lilo & Stitch its sequel films and Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Queen Tyr'ahnee in Duck Dodgers, as Sydney Fox in the syndicated television series Relic Hunter, and her participation as a contestant in the second season of the US Dancing with the Stars.
Carrere was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the daughter of Filipino parents, Audrey Duhinio Janairo, a computer supervisor, and Alexander Janairo, a banker. Carrere identifies herself as being of "Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese descent... raised on Hawaii." Carrere attended Sacred Hearts Academy, an all-girls school. Carrere longed to be a singer as a child. Although she was eliminated during the first round of her 1985 Star Search appearance at the age of 17, she was spotted by a local producer while shopping at a Waikiki grocery store and was cast in the movie Aloha Summer, which he produced and had a cameo in.
Following this initial success, Carrere returned to Los Angeles and, after working several months as a model, landed a first ever role in the U.S. TV series Airwolf in early 1985. Her first major breakthough was in the daytime soap opera General Hospital. She played the role of Jade Soong Chung from 1985 to 1987. She also had a guest appearance on Tour of Duty and The A-Team, which was supposed to lead to her joining the cast. Unfortunately, her General Hospital obligations prevented her from joining the team. Her character was dropped after one episode, and was never mentioned again. She also made guest appearances on the shows MacGyver ("The Wish Child") as a sexy karate instructor, as well as a different assassin character in a later episode ("Murderer's Sky"), on Anything But Love as the adopted daughter of Marty Gold (Richard Lewis), and Married... with Children as Piper Bauman, a rival of Kelly Bundy, who attempted to steal a modeling job from her.
After appearing in the 1991 action films Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and Showdown in Little Tokyo, she emerged into the public spotlight when cast as Cassandra, a rock singer and love interest of Mike Myers' character Wayne in Wayne's World (1992)—a role she reprised the next year in Wayne's World 2. A trained singer, Carrere performed all of her own songs in the two films, and the Wayne's World soundtrack features her vocals. She turned down a role in Baywatch to audition for Wayne's World. In 1992, People magazine named her to its annual "50 most beautiful people" list.
In 1992, Carrere married Lebanese-American producer Elie Samaha, and appeared in several of his films. Other roles in prominent films include the parts of smuggler Juno Skinner in True Lies (a 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger action film), a mixed African-Japanese computer expert in Rising Sun (a thriller written by Michael Crichton starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes), robber Gina Walker in The Immortals (1995), and secretary Victoria Chappell in High School High (a 1996 parody). She also starred as Ari, a space marine-turned pirate in the 1995 adventure/puzzle game The Daedalus Encounter. She also starred as the evil witch/queen in the 1997 Universal Films picture Kull the Conqueror, co-starring with Kevin Sorbo.
Carrere at the premiere for Up in May 2009
From 1999 to 2002, Carrere starred as archeology professor Sydney Fox in Relic Hunter, a syndicated action-adventure series strongly reminiscent of the Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider films and video games. At this time, Carrere was featured in men's magazine Maxim. Relic Hunter lasted for a total of three contracted television seasons. Carrere then provided the voice of Lilo's sister "Nani" in the animated film Lilo and Stitch (2002) and its spinoffs, as well as the voice of Queen Tyr'ahnee from the 2003 Duck Dodgers animated series.
She participated as a contestant on the popular reality show Dancing with the Stars, but was eliminated, placing sixth overall. Carrere later participated in the fifth season of The Celebrity Apprentice and was axed in the fifth week of the show.
Carrere posed nude for the January 2003 issue of Playboy magazine. It was the top-selling Playboy of 2003. The photos were republished in the German December 2006 issue of the magazine. Recently, she has appeared as a guest star on a number of television shows, including Back to You, Nip/Tuck, and Warehouse 13. She has also appeared in several episodes of season 6 of Curb Your Enthusiasm as Richard Lewis's girlfriend.