She was born on Jan. 5, 1968 in Honolulu, HI. Of Chinese, Japanese and Irish descent, Inaba was very much into the arts as a child - she danced the hula, played the piano and violin, and sang in the choir. When she was 16, she and a friend choreographed a dance together, and for their efforts, won a statewide talent competition. During this time, Inaba received an offer to travel to Japan to act and sing, but she waited until she graduated from high school to move abroad. While living in Tokyo, Inaba had a successful career as a pop star, and also hosted radio and television shows. In 1988, Inaba moved to California, where she studied choreography at the University of California, Irvine, before she transferred and graduated with a degree in world arts and cultures from UCLA. One of her first jobs was dancing on the sketch comedy series "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94), before she became a back-up dancer for stars such as Ricky Martin in his music video for the hit single "Shake Your Bon-Bon" (1999) and Madonna on "The Girlie Show" tour in 1993.
Inaba steadily gained a reputation as one of Hollywood's hardest working dancers. She appeared on numerous televised awards shows and in feature films like "Showgirls" (1995), "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999), and "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002). Inaba also had a recurring role as a dancer on the comedy series "Nikki" (The WB, 2000-02) and guest starred as a choreographer on "Hannah Montana" (Disney Channel, 2006- ). After many years of choreographing reality shows like "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) and the "Miss America Pageant," Inaba finally found her place in the spotlight as one of the judges on the hit reality competition series, "Dancing with the Stars," where professional dancers and celebrities paired up to win audience votes and be declared dancing champions. She rounded out the judges' panel, which included Len Goodman, a British professional ballroom dancer, and Italian dancer and choreographer Bruno Tonioli. On the show, Inaba's charm and honest but fair critiques complemented Goodman's stern and unforgiving marks, and Tonioli's flamboyant gestures and outrageous comments. On March 31, 2011, Inaba made headlines apart from the show when she received an unexpected, on-air proposal from her boyfriend of two years Jesse Sloan. He surprised Inaba with a diamond sparkler and a wedding proposal while she was subbing for Kelly Ripa on the morning show "Live with Regis and Kelly" (ABC, 1988- ).