A songstress possessing a remarkable eight-octave vocal range who in the early '90s excelled to become one of the top female vocalists of the decade, Mariah Carey's rocky transition from musician to actress played a key role in fueling a much-publicized nervous breakdown in late 2001. And though her turn in Glitter (2001) may have not been quite the crossover success the aspiring actress had hoped for, as a remarkably talented vocalist Carey continues to maintain her supportive fan base as a result of her dynamic voice and exceptional songwriting abilities. Born the daughter of a former opera singer and vocal coach in Long Island, NY, in 1970, and named after the song "They Call the Wind Maria" from the popular Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon (1969), Carey began singing at the age of four, and writing her own songs by the time she was attending Oldfield Middle School. Moving to New York to pursue a career as a vocalist a day after her graduation from Greenlawn's Harborfields High School, the ambitious singer soon teamed with keyboardist Ben Margulies and landed a job as a backup singer for Brenda K. Starr. Aided by Starr in ensuring her demo tape found its way into the hands of Columbia Records head Tommy Matola (the man whom Carey would later wed and eventually divorce) at a party, Carey was soon signed to the label and with the release of her massively successful eponymous debut in 1990, achieved overnight success. With strong follow-up efforts establishing Carey as one of the premier vocalists of the decade (she had a number one single each year of the 1990s, her songs spending more time at the Billboard top spot than any recording artist in history) it was only a matter of time before the established singer attempted to expand her career.
After making her big-screen debut with a supporting turn in The Bachelor in 1999, Carey set her sights on a personal project for her first starring role. However, after suffering a physical and emotional breakdown months before the release of her big-screen debut in Glitter, Carey's "lambs" (her slang term for her loyal fans) rallied to her side in support upon the release of numerous scathing reviews. Inspired by such musical dramas as Fame (1980) and Purple Rain (1984), the semi-autobiographical retro tale of a young singer rising to fame despite the odds stacked against her was dismissed as cliché and laughably bad, with reviews specifically targeting the vulnerable singer's sub-par performance and the films unintentionally campy tone. Public appearances in which her behavior grew increasingly bizarre coupled with distressing messages on her website and fan phone line underscored the onetime pop diva's increasing mental collapse, making her admission into a Connecticut mental hospital seem almost inevitable to all who bore witness to her multiple public meltdowns. Following the failure of the accompanying album of the same name, Virgin Records bought out her 100-million-dollar contract for a mere 28 million dollars, and it appeared as if the one-time megastar had reached her nadir. Her career would see a boost along with her personal life, however, when she married pop star and TV personality Nick Cannon in 2008, later giving birth to twins.
In 2009, she returned to acting in Precious, directed by Lee Daniels, playing a social worker in an unglamorous, dressed-down role. She later reunited with Daniels in 2013 to play a supporting role in The Butler. IN 2015, Carey made her directorial debut with the TV movie A Christmas Melody, in which she also co-starred.