Carrie Ann Inaba
Written By: Michelle Emmick
There’s nothing better than meeting someone who is wise, authentic, and presents themselves right away with an open heart. That was my experience being introduced to Carrie Ann Inaba. While she has held many professional titles, Carrie Ann is most recognized as an Emmy-nominated television host and as a judge on the Emmy-award winning series “Dancing With The Stars.”
Outside of her job, Carrie Ann is anything but judgmental, believing whole-heartedly in kindness. This sentiment was evident to me throughout our interview and was echoed by a close friend of hers with whom I spoke just a few days later. “I live by a code of honesty,” shares Carrie Ann, “and with that comes a real opinion. It is weird to be a judge, and sometimes I struggle with that internally. But at the same time, I know it’s coming from a place of kindness, and I believe the ability to provide and receive constructive feedback is important for all of us.”
Carrie Ann’s personal and professional life has taken her on an incredible journey. This journey has taught her about life and brought her to a place of acceptance, a place where she is able to fully express herself and embrace all aspects of her life. At 54 years old, Carrie Ann says she’s learned, in her own pursuits, that acceptance is much bigger and plays a much larger role in wellness than she realized. “I always thought I was striving toward something, and I took pride in myself for working so hard, but I learned there’s a peace in accepting all sides of who we are. Whether it’s the wellness seeker, the dancer, the glamour girl, the boss, or any other side, everything has led me on a long, amazing journey and provided me with beautiful conversations to share.”
Born and raised in Hawaii, Carrie Ann is deeply rooted in an internal process of discovery. Her truth-seeking started at the age of 11, as she often found herself pondering profound questions as they related to beauty and wellness.
“As an Asian American young woman growing up in Hawaii, our beauty standards were all about natural beauty. The focus was not visual; it was about what your energy says about you. There is so much heritage and different culture, that there was no ‘one’ standard of beauty. In Hawaii, we would look at each other with wonder and excitement.”
Carrie Ann grew up dancing and performing, and at age 18, moved to Japan, where she quickly became a recording artist and pop sensation. It was there that she encountered a vastly different standard. “Beauty there was like a mathematical equation. The culture had completely different standards because it’s a nation of one nationality. It was the opposite of where I came from, where we celebrate all. That was a struggle because I’m not just one thing. I had insecurity for the first time in my life. I had the fortune of not growing up with a measuring stick, and suddenly I felt measured.”
Carrie Ann shared that while she learned a lot during that time and had some great experiences, she knew her life’s journey was heading toward a different path. Just two years later, Carrie Ann returned to the US and quickly landed one of the coolest jobs of the ‘90s, a Fly Girl on the Emmy award-winning hit television show “In Living Color.” Now, for girls like me in small town America who loved to dance, this was the pinnacle. Every outfit, every dance move – we tried to emulate it all.
It was so influential that in college, my friends and I created our own little sorority, and we were known as The Fly Girls (I didn’t share this with Carrie Ann). She had an impact on me, and didn’t even know it. What made the girls so cool was that they brought hip hop and dance to the mainstream. “That was so much fun,” says Carrie Ann. “What I loved was that it was five women of various backgrounds. We were inclusive before ‘inclusive’ had to be a word that people were enforcing, and I attribute that to Keenan Ivory Wayans. He had a great vision and created a show that looked like the world outside – different skin colors and diverse backgrounds, and the humor was daring. Humor is such a big part of wellness.”
After her time as a Fly Girl, Carrie Ann continued to trailblaze her path of performance and her greatest love, dance. Her journey eventually led her to one of her favorite jobs as a dancer, touring in Madonna’s Girlie Show.
“It was such an honor, and it was hard work. Madonna is nothing short of someone who pushes boundaries. It was bold and daring, and I loved it.”
Carrie Ann’s passion for dance and strong work ethic gave her the opportunity to collaborate with numerous big-name artists and appear in film and television shows. Through the years, her achievements and titles have come to include Host, Producer, Choreographer, Wellness Advocate, and Philanthropist. She’s racked up miles and made impressive stops along the way, and what’s beautiful about Carrie Ann – and I’m not sure if she even realizes it – is that she dances in everything she does. Even the way she speaks and communicates radiates a beautiful energy that I noticed right away; it’s expressive, real, full of emotion, and inspiring.
With an incredible career that has spanned over 35 years, Carrie Ann shared the growth from the early days of who and what she wanted to be to now reaching the part of her journey that has made her realize what’s missing. “There are definitely parts of my life that I haven’t cared enough about, and now in my 50s, it’s about embracing all of who I am and making myself a priority.” Carrie Ann has been upfront and courageous, sharing her personal struggles with depression, ADHD, anxiety, and chronic illness. “I now focus on wellness, and every day I check in on myself. It’s not easy to stay on a path of wellness; however, in many ways, the last three years have helped me shift inward in a better way.”
Carrie Ann used that time to connect with others who share similar life challenges and to use her resources to educate and empower herself. In 2019, she founded Carrie Ann Conversations Digital Series and wellness lifestyle site www.carrieannconversations.com.
“My platform has afforded me the opportunity to be coached by some of the greatest wellness minds, from the likes of Jane Massengill, The Medical Medium, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. John Amaral, to name just a few. Every one of them has helped me. It’s made an impact on my life, and I want to help educate and empower others by sharing everything I’ve learned. It doesn’t matter if it’s scientific or spiritual; it’s important to get information and then define it for yourself.”
(Are we soulmates, Carrie Ann?)
Carrie Ann Conversations delivers content to inspire and educate people to make better choices. “I want people to live a life of joy, and the website, podcast, and digital video series are based on my belief that conversations ignite possibilities. We all need outside input. I don’t always agree, yet I can still learn and make choices because I have more knowledge and choices. That’s what I’m trying to offer – TRUTH. I don’t want people to feel alone. I’ve personally felt alone, and I want a place where anyone can reach out for help.”
There were so many notable moments from my conversation with Carrie Ann that I feel like this is a ‘To be Continued’ piece. One sentiment that stuck out to me was that of understanding your place and sense of self – something that has significantly grown out of social media as we become so hyper-focused on ourselves and accomplishments, always trying to exceed those things. “When your sense of self is too large, that’s when you start to think of yourself as too important. That becomes immense pressure. What I’ve learned when you are seeking wellness is that everything else fades to the background. It’s about knowing who you are and keeping life simple and focused. It becomes much easier.”
Wise words, my friend. And as each one of us continues to travel on our own wellness journey, we will be following yours and being part of your conversations. Thank you for shining such a guiding light.
Carrie Ann’s Favorite Inspirational Quote
“Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.”– Max Ehrmann (from the poem “Desiderata”)
Carrie Ann’s Definition of Beauty- Beauty is wellness, peace, and joy.
- Photography + Hair @glennutley
- Written by: @theplasticsurgerycoach
- Makeup: @marylinmakeup
- Styling: @julie_kozak
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