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Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka: How a singing diva fell in love with her backup dancer in 'soap-opera style'

Mariah Carey and her boyfriend Bryan Tanaka's love story is nothing short of a 'soap opera' story, according to her ex-husband Nick Cannon
Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka (Getty Images )
Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka (Getty Images )

On Saturday, April 11, Mariah Carey took to her Instagram to post a picture of herself baking a birthday cake for her beau, Bryan Tanaka. The 50-year-old songstress wished her 37-year-old boyfriend by not just baking a sweet homemade cake, but also posting a picture of them together. Can you believe it’s already been almost three years since the couple announced their relationship to the world!
So, how did a backup dancer from one of Mariah’s tours end up becoming her boyfriend? Their love story is nothing short of a “soap opera” story as described by her ex-husband Nick Cannon. Like mentioned earlier, Tanaka met Mariah when he was roped in as a backup dancer for her ‘Adventures of Mimi’ tour in 2006.
In an interview, Tanaka described their first meeting as “sweaty mess”. He explained, “The first time we met we were actually in a rehearsal setting, a huge sound stage at Sony studios back in LA. And she walked in with a beautiful entourage and I was on stage already." “Our first introduction was kind of a sweaty mess, because I was on stage sweating…she came out all looking gorgeous and everything. But it was great we said 'Hi' real quick and we got back to work,” adds Tanaka.
The dancer described himself as a “young buck” when he met his lady love for the first time. But in a decade between their first meeting and them making their relationship public in 2017, a lot of things transpired in both their lives. Tanaka’s career took off and he became a back-up dancer for several huge A-list stars like Beyonce, Rihanna, and Usher amongst many. Mariah, on the other hand, got married to Cannon, had two children with him and then the couple eventually called quits. Following this, she began dating Australian billionaire, James Packer and soon got engaged to him.

Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka perform in Concert - New York, New York at Madison Square Garden on August 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for imPRint)

The songstress’s budding romance with Tanaka began while she was still with Packer. In Mariah’s reality show ‘Mariah’s World’, the singer can be seen giving a lap dance to Tanaka during her South Africa tour. This didn’t sit well with her billionaire fiancé. Packer got very jealous when Tanaka went to visit Mariah during one of her performances in Las Vegas. According to reports, Packer was so unhappy that he pulled some strings and got Tanaka banned from entering Caesar’s Palace casino.
Soon after the incident, Packer and Mariah broke up. In 2017, Mariah announced to the world that she was seeing Tanaka. Her ex-husband Cannon commented on the whole situation with Packer, Tanaka and his ex-wife as a “soap opera”. He said, “That sh*t is like a soap opera, like, ‘The billionaire doesn’t know, and here’s the handsome young dancer.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for Tanaka and Mariah after they made their relationship official. The couple briefly split in April 2017. A source reportedly told Entertainment Tonight that the split was due to Tanaka’s jealousy of Mariah’s close friendship with Cannon. Thankfully, the couple managed to work out their differences and got back together in June 2017 and have been inseparable ever since.