First captivating audiences, specifically her family, sometime after her fifth birthday playing piano by ear, Irene soon moved into serious studies of music, acting, and dance.
As a child, she began working professionally singing and dancing on spanish television. As a pre-teenager, she starred in the title role of her debut motion picture Aaron Loves Angela which lead to the title role in the cult-classic musical drama Sparkle.
Cara is one of the select group of mega-talented performers who have successfully made the transition from theater-to television, -to records, -to feature films, having combined the latter with a recording career. Television brought Irene international acclaim for serious dramatic roles in two outstanding mini series, Roots: The Story of Jim Jones. However, it was the box office smash Fame, in , which catapulted Irene to stardom. She went on to make Academy Award history that year when, for the first time, two songs from one film were nominated in the same category.
It would be Fame that would go on to win the coveted award that year. This was a pivotal moment in Oscar history being that Miss Cara was the first African American female to win the coveted award since Hattie McDaniel "Gone With The Wind" - , the first Hispanic female since Rita Moreno "West Side Story" - and the first bi-racial female ever to win in any category pre-dating Halle Berry by nearly twenty years.
Cara co-wrote the movie's theme song sung by the legendary jazz vocalist Joe Williams. She has toured throughout Asia and Europe and made major appearances in Atlantic City and on all the top television shows in Europe, Latin America and Japan. The new version was a major hit throughout Europe and reached 1 in 7 countries.
She has been honored with three lifetime achievement awards since the new millenium. The first was the Prestige Award in , the second was an Honorary Acknowledgement for excellence in the arts by the Ft. Lauderdale Film Institute in In she was given an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution in the African-American community by the Columbus Times of Georgia, which is the oldest black newspaper in the country.
Besides songwriting and producing, Irene has been writing several movie scripts in developement for her to star in. In May of she was inducted to the "Bronx Walk of Fame". She had the distinguished honor of having a street named after her at the Grand Concourse in the New York Borough of the Bronx.
Several online sources state Miss Cara's date of birth as March 18th, Miss Cara disputes this and claims her correct birthdate is March 18th,