Paula Abdul (Paula Julie Abdul) (born June 19, 1962) is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, choreographer, actress, and television personality. She began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18 and later became the head choreographer for the Laker Girls, where she was discovered by The Jacksons. After choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson, Abdul became a choreographer at the height of the music video era and soon thereafter she was signed to Virgin Records. Her debut studio album Forever Your Girl (1988) became one of the most successful debut albums at that time, selling 7 million copies in the United States and setting a record for the most number-one singles from a debut album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: “Straight Up”, “Forever Your Girl”, “Cold Hearted”, and “Opposites Attract”. Her six number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 tie her with Diana Ross for seventh among the female solo performers who have topped the chart.
Abdul was one of the original judges on the television series American Idol from 2002 to 2009, and has since appeared as a judge on The X Factor, Live to Dance, and So You Think You Can Dance. Notably, she received choreography credits in numerous films, including Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), The Running Man (1987), Big (1988), Coming to America (1988), Action Jackson (1988), The Doors (1991), Jerry Maguire (1996), and American Beauty (1999). She has received five MTV Video Music Award nominations, winning twice, as well as receiving the Grammy Award for Best Music Video for “Opposites Attract” in 1991. She received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography twice for her work on The Tracey Ullman Show, and her own performance at the American Music Awards in 1990. Abdul was honored with her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is the first entertainer to be honored with the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards’ Hall of Fame Award.
Abdul was born in San Fernando, California to Jewish parents. Abdul’s father, Harry Abdul, was born into the Syrian-Jewish community in Aleppo, Syria, and was raised in Brazil and emigrated to the United States. Her mother, the concert pianist Lorraine M. Rykiss, grew up in one of the two Canadian Jewish families in Minnedosa, Manitoba and has Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors from Ukraine. Abdul has a sister named Wendy. As an avid dancer, Abdul was inspired towards a show business career by Gene Kelly in the film Singin’ in the Rain.
Abdul began taking dance lessons at an early age in ballet, jazz, and tap. She attended Van Nuys High School, where she was a cheerleader and an honor student. At 15, she received a scholarship to a dance camp near Palm Springs, and in 1978 appeared in a low-budget Independent musical film, Junior High School. In 1980, she graduated from Van Nuys High School. Abdul studied broadcasting at the California State University, Northridge. During her freshman year, she was selected from a pool of 700 candidates for the cheerleading squad of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team—the famed Laker Girls. Within a year, she became head choreographer.
1982–1986: Career beginnings
Abdul was discovered by The Jacksons, after a few of the band members had watched her while attending a Los Angeles Lakers game. She was signed to do the choreography for the video to their single “Torture”. Abdul recalled feeling intimidated by having to tell the Jacksons how to dance, stating that she was “not quite sure how got through that.” The success of the choreography in the video led to Abdul’s career as choreographer of music videos, notably Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, “Nasty” and “Control” videos. It was also due to the success of the video that Abdul was chosen to be the choreographer for the Jacksons’ Victory tour. Abdul also choreographed sequences for the giant keyboard scene involving Tom Hanks’s character in Big (1988).
1987–1999: Forever Your Girl, Spellbound and Head over Heels
In 1987, Abdul used her savings to make a singing demo. Soon thereafter, she was signed to the newly formed Virgin Records by Jeff Ayeroff, who had worked in marketing at A&M Records with Janet Jackson. Although she was a skilled dancer and choreographer, Abdul was a relatively untrained singer, and worked with various coaches and record producers to develop her vocal ability, with her vocal range defined as mezzo-soprano. Ayeroff recalled signing Abdul to a recording contract years later, stating: “She said, ‘I can sing, you know. I want to do an album.’ Paula’s in our industry. Here’s someone with a personality and she’s gorgeous, and she can dance. If she can sing, she could be a star. So she went into the studio and cut a demo record and she could sing.” Her debut studio album, Forever Your Girl (1988), would become the most successful debut album in history at that time, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart after 64 weeks (where it would spend 10 weeks at number one), and set a record for the most singles from a debut album to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The album was later certified 7x platinum. A remix album, Shut Up and Dance: Mixes, was also released and reached number seven in the United States, becoming one of the most successful remix albums to date. At the 32nd Grammy Awards, Abdul won her first Grammy for Best Music Video for “Opposites Attract”. She was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Straight Up”, but lost to Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time”. In 1991, singer Yvette Marine filed a lawsuit against Abdul and the Virgin label, alleging that it was her vocals that were used on several tracks from Forever Your Girl, most notably “Opposites Attract”. A jury sided with Abdul and the label two years later in 1993, rejecting Marine’s claim to credit and copyright compensation.
Abdul saw continued success with her second studio album Spellbound (1991), which saw two additional number-one singles: “Rush Rush” and “The Promise of a New Day”. A third single “Blowing Kisses in the Wind” reached number six for three consecutive weeks. Spellbound retained the dance-pop sound from Forever Your Girl and introduced elements of R&B, and sold 7 million copies worldwide. The music video for “Rush Rush” featured a Rebel Without a Cause motif, starring Keanu Reeves in the James Dean role. The album’s other singles, “Vibeology” and “Will You Marry Me?”, saw moderate success on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the top 20. In 1991, Abdul starred in a popular Diet Coke commercial in which she danced with a digital image of her idol, a young Gene Kelly. Abdul was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 1991. Abdul promoted Spellbound through the Under My Spell Tour, which was named by an MTV contest for fans. The tour was nearly cancelled due to an accident during rehearsals, but began on schedule in October 1991 and concluded in August 1992.
After her initial period of professional success, Abdul’s career entered a brief hiatus while she sought treatment for personal and physical issues. Her third studio album, Head over Heels (1995), retained both pop and R&B elements and saw moderate commercial success, peaking at number 18 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States and later becoming her lowest-selling release. The lead single from Head over Heels, “My Love Is for Real”, featured a fusion of R&B and traditional Middle Eastern instruments, and was performed with Yemeni-Israeli singer Ofra Haza. Its accompanying Lawrence of Arabia-inspired music video was played in theaters across the world as a prologue to the film Clueless. The single performed well on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, where it reached number one, and peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Crazy Cool” and “Ain’t Never Gonna Give You Up” served as the album’s second and third singles. To date, Head over Heels has sold over 500,000 copies in the United States. In 1995, Abdul released a dance workout video entitled Paula Abdul’s Get Up and Dance! (re-released on DVD in 2003), a fast-paced, hip-hop style workout. In 1997, Abdul co-wrote a song called “Spinning Around” with record producer and composer Kara DioGuardi, which was intended to be her comeback single from a new album, but the plan never materialized and the song was later given to Kylie Minogue. That year, Abdul appeared in the ABC television film Touched By Evil, playing a businesswoman who discovers that her boyfriend is a serial rapist. In 1998, she released a second workout video called Cardio Dance (re-released on DVD in 2000). Thereafter, Abdul served as the choreographer for several film and theater productions, including the 1998 musical Reefer Madness and the cheerleading scenes in American Beauty (1999).
2000–2009: American Idol, Hey Paula and return to music
In 2000, Virgin Records, with whom Abdul was already no longer affiliated, released the first of two compilation albums by Abdul, Paula Abdul: Greatest Hits. Abdul co-produced the 2001 pilot for Skirts, an MTV television series about a high school cheerleading squad; Abdul was also set to appear as the head coach. The pilot never aired. In 2002, she began appearing as one of three judges on the Fox reality competition series American Idol, where she won praise as a sympathetic and compassionate judge and mentor. She seemed especially kind compared to fellow judge Simon Cowell, who was often blunt in his appraisals of the contestants’ performances. When she realized that Cowell’s over-the-top judging style was heartbreaking for many young contestants, Abdul was horrified and she considered leaving the series. Although their differences often resulted in extremely heated on-air exchanges and confrontations, Cowell says he played a major role in convincing Abdul not to leave the series. While serving as a judge on American Idol, Abdul accepted a second assignment as reporter for Entertainment Tonight. In December 2005, Abdul launched a cheerleading/fitness/dance DVD series called Cardio Cheer, which is marketed to children and teenage girls involved with cheerleading and dance. Abdul also choreographed The King’s touchdown celebration, as seen in a string of Burger King television commercials that aired during the 2005–06 NFL season. In 2006, Abdul appeared on the third series of The X Factor UK as a guest judge during the auditions, sitting alongside judges Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh.
A second compilation album, Greatest Hits: Straight Up!, was released in 2007 by the Virgin label, who also made all of Abdul’s releases under their label available for digital download on iTunes. That year, Bravo began airing a reality television series centered around Abdul, Hey Paula, which followed her through her day-to-day life. Abdul’s behavior as depicted on the series was described as “erratic” by comedian Rosie O’Donnell and was criticized by audiences and critics, and Hey Paula was cancelled after a single season.
In January 2009, Abdul hosted “RAH!,” a cheerleading competition on MTV. “RAH!” featured five collegiate squads competing in a series of challenges with Abdul crowning one the winner. In May 2009, Abdul debuted her latest original song to date, “I’m Just Here for the Music” (originally an unreleased song from Kylie Minogue’s ninth album Body Language) on the Ryan Seacrest Radio KIIS-FM show and performed the single on the American Idol. “I’m Just Here for the Music” reached number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Abdul’s fifteenth song to appear on the chart.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in July 2009, Abdul’s manager David Sonenberg told the newspaper that, “Very sadly, it does not appear that she’s going to be back on Idol.” This came about as a result of stalled negotiations between Abdul and the series. In August, after numerous contract negotiations, Abdul confirmed that she would not be returning to Idol for its ninth season. The Times cited reports Abdul had been earning as much as $5 million per season and that she was reportedly seeking as much as $20 million to return. Abdul was replaced by Ellen DeGeneres. Abdul claimed her departure from Idol was not about money, but that she had to stand on principle.
2010–2015: Live to Dance, The X Factor and So You Think You Can Dance
In January 2010, Abdul presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to choreographer Julie McDonald at the 11th Anniversary show of The Carnival: Choreographer’s Ball. In November, Abdul launched and co-founded AuditionBooth.com, a website that allows aspiring talents to connect with casting directors, producers, and managers.
In January 2011, Abdul began appearing on the short-lived CBS reality competition series Live to Dance, where she was also an executive producer. Abdul said that unlike American Idol, Live to Dance is less about “competition” and more about “celebration.” After its first season of seven episodes, it was cancelled by CBS. In May 2011, it was announced that Abdul would rejoin Cowell on the first season of the American edition of The X Factor. In January 2012, Abdul announced that she would not be returning as a judge for the series’ second season. Abdul was replaced by Demi Lovato. In October 2012, Abdul served as a guest judge during week four of the All-Stars version of Dancing with the Stars. In April 2013, Abdul appeared on the Top 5 results show of season 12 of American Idol to compliment contestant Candice Glover on her performance of “Straight Up”.
On July 9, 2013, Abdul was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance (season ten). In October 2013, Abdul was named as a judge on the revamped So You Think You Can Dance Australia, which aired on Australia’s Network Ten from February 9 through May 1, 2014. Abdul was present as a permanent member of the judge’s panel for all episodes of this season. She later became a permanent judge of the American version starting with its twelfth season. In January 2017, Abdul announced that she would not be returning as a judge for its fourteenth season because of her tour schedule.
In April 2014, Abdul was a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, which reunited her with previous Idol contestant Adore Delano. In June 2014, Abdul made a cameo appearance on the Australian soap opera Neighbours and shared scenes with established character Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher). In 2015, Abdul made a guest appearance on the comedy sitcom Real Husbands of Hollywood on its season 4 premiere. She was shown in a comedic scene with Arsenio Hall where she was trying to kick Hall out of her pool house. On November 16, 2015, Abdul along with Charles “Chucky” Klapow, Renee Richie and Nakul Dev Mahajan won the World Choreography Award for Outstanding Choreography Digital Format for the video ‘Check Yourself’. On November 22, 2015, Abdul and Donnie Wahlberg presented Favorite Female Artist – Pop/Rock at the 43rd American Music Awards; the award Abdul won at the 1990 AMAs, presented to her by Wahlberg.
2016–present: Return to performing, Las Vegas residency
On August 6, 2016, Abdul performed a full headline set for the first time in 26 years at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In November 2016, New Kids on the Block announced that Abdul would be touring with them and Boyz II Men on their Total Package Tour in 2017; her first tour in 25 years. The tour began on May 12 in Columbus, Ohio and concluded on July 16, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida, for a total of 47 shows. In an interview with Elle magazine, Abdul stated there were “many reasons” she decided to return to the stage after over two decades, saying: “I took a long break and had sustained some injuries in the past. Then I returned to television with American Idol and that took up a good decade of my life. Then I went out to do some more television, as well. I always wanted to get back on stage, because I missed it. I wanted to get back in close contact with the people who have supported me all throughout my career and be able to see them again. Plus, I was getting asked all the time if I would ever do it again! I finally said, You know what, I want to and I’m going to make it a priority. I’m really passionate about it and it’s fun, and I want to connect with my fans around the country.” In July 2018, Abdul announced that she would embark on a solo headlining tour across North America that fall, entitled Straight Up Paula!, as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of her debut studio album Forever Your Girl. The tour began in Morristown, New Jersey on October 3 and concluded in Indio, California on November 17, 2018, for a total of 27 shows.
Abdul performed a medley of her greatest hits at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, closing out the show. On May 1, 2019, Abdul announced her first Las Vegas residency, Paula Abdul: Forever Your Girl. The residency’s first leg began August 13, the first of 20 dates, ending January 2020. On June 7, 2019, Abdul opened LA Pride.
Abdul also performed at the fourteenth series finale of America’s Got Talent with Light Balance Kids, Brian King Joseph, and Tyler Butler-Figueroa to surprise Cowell.
Abdul was married to Emilio Estevez from 1992 to 1994. In 1994, Abdul sought treatment for bulimia nervosa, which she revealed years later she first developed as a teenager and only intensified after she became a pop star, explaining: “Battling bulimia has been like war on my body. Me and my body have been on two separate sides. We’ve never, until recently, been on the same side. I learned at a very early age I didn’t fit in physically. I learned through years of rejections from auditions. I would ask myself, ‘Why can’t I be tall and skinny like the other dancers?’ I felt nervous and out of control, and all I could think about was food. Food numbed the fear and anxiety. I’d eat and then run to the bathroom. I thought, ‘God I’m not perfect. I’m going to disappoint people. That’s what I thought. It became a living hell for me. I wanted to get help. I want to be free from weighing myself on the scales. Whether I was sticking my head in the toilet or exercising for hours a day, I was spitting out the food – and the feelings.” Abdul married clothing designer Brad Beckerman in 1996, at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. They divorced in 1998, after 17 months of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences.
Abdul is observant in her Jewish faith, and is proud of her heritage. She once stated, “My father is a Syrian Jew whose family immigrated to Brazil. My mother is Canadian with Jewish roots. My dream is to go to Israel for a real holiday.” In November 2006, when Israeli Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog invited her to Israel, Abdul responded with a hug, adding, “I will come; you have helped me make a dream come true.” In 2013, at the age of 51, Abdul had her bat mitzvah in Safed, Israel, at a Kabbalah center. In 2003, Abdul was reported as a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation.
In December 2004, Abdul was driving her Mercedes-Benz on a Los Angeles-area freeway when she changed lanes and hit another vehicle. The driver and passenger took a photograph with a cell phone camera and wrote down the license plate number of the car, which was traced to Abdul. In March 2005, Abdul was fined US$900 and given 24 months of informal probation after pleading nolo contendere (no contest) to misdemeanor hit-and-run driving. She was ordered to pay US$775 for damage to the other car.
In April 2005, Abdul said that she suffers from a neurological disorder, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, that causes chronic pain. This disorder is also known as CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome).
In April 2006, Abdul filed a report at a Hollywood police station claiming she had been a victim of battery at a private party at about 1 am on April 2, according to LAPD spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon. “According to Abdul, the man at the party argued with her, grabbed her by the arm and threw her against a wall,” Vernon said. “She said she had sustained a concussion and spinal injuries.”
In November 11, 2008, a 30-year-old woman named Paula Goodspeed was found dead in her car outside of Abdul’s Los Angeles home in Sherman Oaks, California. The death was ruled a suicide by drug overdose, and she was found surrounded by prescription pills, along with photos and CDs of Abdul. Goodspeed was an obsessive fan of Abdul, having legally changed her name to Paula, drawn many pictures of her, sent her flowers and auditioned for Abdul on season 5 of American Idol in 2005 at a stop in Austin, Texas, before being dismissed from the show. Goodspeed had been accused in the press of being a celebrity stalker but her relatives disputed the claim.
Abdul is a dog lover who raised awareness about National Guide Dog Month in May 2009, and she teamed up with Dick Van Patten to help people with blindness to have more independence through the help of guide dogs. She does not wear real fur.
In May 2005, ABC’s news magazine Primetime Live reported claims by season 2 American Idol contestant Corey Clark that he and Abdul had had an affair during that season, and she had coached him on how to succeed in the competition. That Clark came forward at a time when he was marketing a CD and trying to get a book deal was seen as suspicious by some, but Clark maintains that his career was being prejudiced because of his relationship with Abdul, and that is why he came forward with the information to clear his name. For the most part, Abdul refused to comment on Clark’s allegations. Simon Cowell came to Abdul’s defense, calling Corey Clark a creep and stating, “It was just somebody using her to get a lot of publicity for an appalling record, full stop.” At the height of the debacle, Abdul appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit, making light of the situation. While Fox launched an investigation, Abdul received numerous calls of support from celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Kelly Ripa; Barbara Walters addressed the camera during an episode of ABC’s The View to say she was sad to be part of an operation that would report Clark’s flimsy tabloid claims under the guise of a news story. In August 2005, the Fox network confirmed that Abdul would be returning to the show, as the investigation had found “insufficient evidence that the communications between Mr. Clark and Ms. Abdul in any way aided his performance.”
Substance abuse allegations arose as the result of what some described as “erratic behavior” by Abdul during episodes of American Idol. After reading these allegations on message boards, Abdul told People in April 2005 that she had suffered from chronic pain for years following a “cheerleading accident” at age 17 and was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) in November 2004. Abdul says she is now pain-free following treatment, including the anti-inflammatory medication Enbrel. Allegations arose again in January 2007 when videos circulated on the Internet of Abdul appearing to sway in her chair and slur her speech during a set of interviews. Abdul’s publicist attributed this to fatigue and technical difficulties during the recording of the interviews. It was revealed on the Bravo show Hey Paula, which had followed Abdul with a video camera prior to the interviews, that Abdul had not been sleeping, perhaps suffering from some mild form of insomnia. In February 2007, Abdul told Us Weekly that she had never been drunk or used illegal drugs, and called the allegations “lies”. In a March 2007 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, Abdul joked that her scrutinized behavior was caused by her being “abducted by aliens”. In several interviews given in the late 2000s, Abdul said she had been left in debilitating pain after a 1992 car accident and a 1993 plane crash that required 15 spinal surgeries and which left her dependent on pain medication for years.
In May 2009, Ladies’ Home Journal posted an article on its website that said that Abdul told them she stayed at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California for three days the previous year to recover from physical dependence on prescription pain medications. The medications, prescribed due to injuries and her RSD diagnosis, included a pain patch, nerve medication, and a muscle relaxant. According to the article, Abdul said the medications made her “get weird” at times and that she suffered from physical withdrawal symptoms during her recovery. Later that same week, in an interview with Detroit radio station WKQI, Abdul rejected the article’s accuracy. She told the radio station she never checked into a rehab clinic and never had a drug abuse problem.
Film and Television
|1978||Junior High School||Sherry|
|1987||Can’t Buy Me Love||Dancer|
|1997||Touched By Evil||Ellen Collier||TV movie|
|1997||Muppets Tonight||Herself||Episode 2.6|
|1998||The Waiting Game||Amy Fuentes||TV movie|
|1999||The Wayans Bros.||Sasha||Episode: “Dream Girl”|
|1999||Sabrina, the Teenage Witch||Herself||Episode: “Aging, Not So Gracefully”|
|1999||Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Alan Freed Story||Denise Walton||TV movie|
|2013/16||American Idol||Herself/Judge||Regular: seasons 1–8|
|3 guest appearances|
|2004||That’s So Raven||Undercover Judge||Episode: “The Road to Audition”|
|2005||Romy and Michele: In the Beginning||Herself||TV movie|
|2005||Less Than Perfect||Kathleen||Episode: “Distractions”|
|2005, 2007||Family Guy||Herself||2 episodes|
|2006||The X Factor (UK)||Guest judge||3 episodes|
|2007||Hey Paula||Herself||7 episodes; also executive producer|
|2008||Hotel Babylon||Herself||Episode 3.1|
|2009||RAH! Paula Abdul’s Cheerleading Bowl||Herself||Host|
|2009–2014||Drop Dead Diva||Herself||4 episodes|
|2011||Live to Dance||Judge|
|2011||The X Factor (US)||Judge|
|2012||Dancing with the Stars||Guest judge||Week 4|
|2015–2016||So You Think You Can Dance||Judge||Guest: season 10|
|Permanent: seasons 12-13|
|2013||X Factor Around the World||Judge|
|2014||So You Think You Can Dance Australia||Judge|
|2014||RuPaul’s Drag Race (season 6)||Guest judge||Episode: “Drag Queens of Talk”|
|2015||Real Husbands of Hollywood||Herself||Season 4, episode 1|
|2016||Lip Sync Battle||Herself – backup singer||Episode: “Channing Tatum vs. Jenna Dewan-Tatum”|
|2016||Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life||Herself||Episode: “How to Survive Insufficient Funds”|
|2017||Fresh Off the Boat||Holly||Episode: Do You Hear What I Hear?|
|2018||A Sister’s Secret||Detective Tupper||TV movie|
|2020||Impractical Jokers: The Movie||Herself|
|2020||Celebrity Ghost Stories||Herself||Episode: “Paula Abdul”|
|1984||Victory Tour (The Jacksons tour)||The Jacksons (tour)|
|Torture (The Jacksons song)||The Jacksons (music video)|
|1986||A Smoky Mountain Christmas||Movie|
|What Have You Done for Me Lately||Janet Jackson (music video)|
|Nasty||Janet Jackson (Music Video).|
|When I Think of You||Janet Jackson (music video)|
|Control||Janet Jackson (music video)|
|Velcro Fly||ZZ Top (music video)|
|1987||The Tracey Ullman Show||(television) Won an Emmy Award|
|Dragnet (1987 film)||Movie|
|Shake Your Love||Debbie Gibson (music video)|
|Can’t Buy Me Love||Movie|
|The Running Man||Movie|
|Faith Tour||George Michael (tour)|
|Coming To America||Movie|
|1989||She’s Out of Control||Movie|
|Dance to Win||Movie|
|The Karate Kid Part III||Movie|
|1990||17th American Music Awards||(award show) Won an Emmy for her own performance, “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me”|
|1990||62nd Academy Awards||Under the Sea from ‘The Little Mermaid’ and “Best Costume Design” category|
|1991||The Doors||(movie) Val Kilmer’s choreographer|
|2002||The Master of Disguise||Movie|
|2003||Zoe’s Dance Moves||Direct-to-Video|
|2009||American Idol||Season 8-Disco Week (Results Show)|
|2014||Avon||Check Yourself (music video)|
|Awards and honors|
|1987||Nasty (Janet Jackson)||MTV Video Music Awards||Best Choreography in a Video||Won|
|When I Think of You (Janet Jackson)||Best Choreography in a Video||Nominated|
|1989||The Tracey Ullman Show||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Choreography||Shared|
|Herself||People’s Choice Awards||Favorite Female Musical Performer||Won|
|Straight Up||MTV Video Music Awards||Best Choreography in a Video||Won|
|Best Editing in a Video||Won|
|Best Female Video||Won|
|Best Dance Video||Won|
|Best New Artist||Nominated|
|1990||Soul Train Music Awards||Best R&B/Soul Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|Juno Awards||International Single of the Year||Nominated|
|Forever Your Girl||International Album of the Year||Nominated|
|American Music Awards||Favorite Pop/Rock Album||Nominated|
|Herself||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Nominated|
|Favorite Dance Artist||Won|
|Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist||Won|
|Brit Awards||International Breakthrough||Nominated|
|People’s Choice Awards||Favorite Female Musical Performer||Won|
|17th American Music Awards||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Choreography||Shared|
|1991||Opposites Attract||MTV Video Music Awards||Breakthrough Video||Nominated|
|Best Dance Video||Nominated|
|Best Direction in a Video||Nominated|
|Best Choreography in a Video||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects in a Video||Nominated|
|Best Female Video||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Short Form Music Video||Shared|
|Rush Rush||MTV Video Music Awards||Best Female Video||Nominated|
|Herself||Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards||Hall of Fame||Honored|
|Hollywood Walk of Fame||Phonograph Record Star||Honored|
|1992||American Music Awards||Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist||Won|
|Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist||Nominated|
|Spellbound||Favorite Adult Contemporary Album||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Recording Package||Won|
|1995||My Love Is for Real||MTV Video Music Awards||Best Dance Video||Nominated|
|Best Choreography in a Video||Nominated|
|2003||Herself||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Reality Babe||Won|
|2007||Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Woman of the Year||Woman of the Year||Honored|
|2008||Tremaine National Gala 2008||Entertainer of the Year||Honored|
|2013||The Carnival: Choreographer’s Ball||Lifetime Achievement Award||Honored|
|2017||The Music Business Association (Music Biz)||Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award||Honored|