Latinxs (people of Latin American heritage, rather than Spanish) are everywhere in Hollywood, even if their severe underrepresentation on both the small and silver screen doesn’t exactly reflect that. In fact, aside from the obvious Latinx celebrities such as Shakira, Stephanie Beatriz of Brooklyn Nine-Nine fame and the ubiquitous Pitbull, there are plenty more high profile celebrities you had no idea were Latinx. Here’s your guide to the most unexpected celebrities who count themselves among the Latinx diaspora!
The name probably gives this one away, but with her blonde hair, blue eyes and lack of the stereotypically curvaceous Latina figure, it’s easy to see why people would fail to realise Cameron Diaz was actually of Cuban descent on her father’s side. Diaz was born and raised in San Diego, California and also has a blend of English, German and Cherokee ancestry on her mother’s side.
The global acting superstar Lupita Nyong’o may be Kenyan by blood, but she’s Mexican by birth. Born in Mexico City while her father was a visiting lecturer at a university there, she possesses dual Mexican-Kenyan nationality and identifies as Mexican-Kenyan too. If you’re on the ball, her distinctive first name might have given it away; Lupita is a diminutive of the popular Mexican female moniker (and Virgin), Guadalupe.
We know what you’re thinking – ‘Ryan Lochte, the superstar US swimmer? How could he be Latino?’ Though he was born in New York, his mother is actually Cuban and grew up in the capital, La Habana, making him half-Cuban on her side, and Dutch, English and German on that of his father. Now arguably better known for his wild ways and regular media faux pas, that doesn’t change the fact that Lochte is definitely Latino.
Uber-funny comedian Louis CK, known for his pessimistic sense of humour and starring in his namesake show Louie, is actually Mexican through-and-through…on his dad’s side anyway. While his white skin and red hair make this hard to believe, there is more racial diversity in Mexico than many people assume and Louis CK is living proof of that. In fact, he lived in Mexico City until he was seven and speaks fluent Spanish.
Another surprising Latina is Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel, who is Argentine on her father’s side and Mexican on her mother’s, despite being born and bred in Houston, Texas. She too speaks fluent Spanish, although in her case it’s her mother tongue. She has repeatedly said that she didn’t learn English until she started school, although people still think she’s Irish rather than Latina.
Kat Von D, the controversial tattoo artist best known nowadays for her fabulous makeup collection and appearances in the mid-noughties on LA Ink, is actually Mexican. She was born in Nuevo León, a state in northern Mexico, to Argentinean-born parents of German, Italian and Spanish descent, and she lived there until she was four years old. Her real name rather more accurately reflects her German heritage though – Katherine von Drachenberg.
US rapper-turned-actor Kid Cudi was born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, which gives some indication as to his Latino heritage. While his mother is African-American, his father was of mixed African-American and Mexican-American descent, making Kid Cudi part Mexican.
Everyone knows that Nicole Richie’s adopted father is the Is It Me You’re Looking For crooner Lionel Richie, but what many people don’t realise is that her biological father, Peter Escovedo, is actually Mexican. This fun fact has been reiterated many times by his sister and her famously proud-to-be-Mexican aunt Sheila E., only reinforcing the notion that while she may not be culturally Latina, her biology says otherwise.
Bruno Mars is obviously a stage name, but on his birth certificate reveals that he’s known as the very Latino-sounding Peter Gene Hernández – this is the same name as his Puerto Rican/Ashkenazi Jew father. Mars was actually raised in Honolulu and ultimately changed his name to avoid being typecast in the music industry. On his mother’s side, he’s Filipino and Spanish!
Again, Aubrey Plaza is perhaps another Latina you could have guessed by the surname but there are still plenty out there who don’t realise the quirky The To Do List star is Boricua on her father’s side. She’s stated in the past that she feels very Puerto Rican, even though she looks white due to her English-Irish ancestry, and she’s even showed off her Spanish skills on Parks and Recreation before now. Also, would you believe she’s 32?!
Another Cameron Diaz-esque Latina is actress and singer Sara Paxton, who shares similarly blonde hair and blue eyes. Once again, this deviation from ‘what a Latina looks like’ leads people to doubt her claim to being half-Mexican; however, it’s entirely true. Her mother Lucia was born in Monterrey, Mexico and raised in Ciudad Acuña, while Paxton is a California native. It’s likely she gets her looks from her Scottish ancestry.
Best known for Clueless and her bizarre Oscar rants is veteran actress Stacey Dash, who’s half-Mexican, as well as Bajan and African-American. Although she’s recently come out with some right-wing views against allowing Middle Easterners into the US and believes transgender rights infringe upon her own, Dash can’t deny her own Latina, melting pot heritage.
This one is certainly a shocker, as while most people are aware of Helena Christensen’s Danish roots on her father’s side, they often have no idea that her mother is Peruvian. Best known as one of the 1990s supermodel clique along with Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, Helena Christensen is also firmly Latina.
Otherwise known as Ashley on the Will Smith-helmed, career-reviving sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Tatyana Ali is actually not even African-American. Rather, she herself identifies as Afro-Caribbean on her Indo-Trinidadian father’s side, and black. However, her Afro-Panamanian mother lends her the title of Latina too.
Finally, one of the most up-and-coming stars of the moment, Florida-born Bella Thorne. Lauded in her younger days as the successor the Miley Cyrus’ Disney throne, this Cuban-Italian-American star is rarely viewed as Latina, even though she’s the only one of her six brothers and sisters to be born outside of Cuba to a Cuban father. So, even though she’s pale-skinned, Bella Thorne is definitively Latina.
Does Bella speak Spanish? Yes and no.
In a 2015 interview with Glamour Magazine, Bella spoke about what it was like to be part-Cuban in Hollywood, and how people initially didnt believe she was due to her red hair. She said, “To me, being Latin is about more than your looks—its how youre brought up. I was raised in a very Latin family.”
Bella continued to say, “My first language was Spanish, but I had to drop it when I started school because of my dyslexia. I still understand it, though, especially since my mom uses Spanish to tell me to take out the trash or do the dishes!” Bella also admitted that her red hair wasnt naturally red to begin with, but she liked the color so much she couldnt imagine going back to blonde.
General misconceptions of her part-Cuban heritage came to a head in 2016, when Disney announced their first Latin princess, Elena of Avalor. Bella posted about how excited she was for the Disney show, and some commenters tried to call her out because she didnt “look” like a stereotypical Latina girl. Bellas fans were quick to come to her defense, and in the end, all was mended. Article continues below advertisement
“I could not read in one language, let alone two… Then I went to a learning center. Their recommendation was that I stop speaking Spanish and concentrate in English because I could not read at all. It was very difficult and I could not learn how to read, write and spell until I was around 8 years old, when I was able to write a full page… It took me a really long time of struggling,” she said.
When Thorne isn’t acting, she is working on writing and creating music. She spent most of her 2021 producing music such as her single, ‘Shake It,’ which she describes as a “very fun song, it makes you relax, it makes you feel a little confident in yourself, feeling like a little baddie.” Most of the 23-year-old’s music has a fun, carefree vibe to it, like Thorne herself.
Despite her struggles, Thorne went on to have a successful career as an actress, singer, and writer. The 23-year-old lives life authentically and unapologetically, never being afraid to stir the pot. Some of Thorne’s achievements include co-starring in the comedy film ‘Blended’ alongside Adam Sandler and in the film, ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ in 2014 and ‘The DUFF’ in 2015.
Bella Thorne was a young teen when she became a household name for her role in Disney Channel’s ‘Shake It Up’ but that doesn’t come as a surprise considering she began working as a model at the young age of six weeks old. The 23-year-old was born as Annabella Avery Thorne in October 1997 in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
The idea that someone has to have tan skin or be brunette to be Latina is a widely held misconception, when in reality, Latinas come in all shades. They also dont necessarily speak Spanish either. So just because princess Elena happens to be darker skinned than Bella, doesnt mean Bella cant take pride in her Latina heritage and connect with her character.
Sadly, many fans didnt like Bellas post because they feel Bella isnt Latina enough. Haters flooded the comments of Bellas post, pointing out her white skin tone, red hair, and the fact that she doesnt speak Spanish as reasons why shes not Latina.
When Im not holed up in my room going on a completely unproductive Netflix binge or Tumblr stalking Timothée Chalomet, Im searching for awesome celeb news stories that Seventeen readers will love!
The Disney Channel recently shared a first look at their first Latina princess, Elena. Bella Thorne, who is Cuban on her fathers side, was one of the celebrities who took to Instagram to celebrate the news, posting a picture of Princess Elena with a caption sharing her excitement and pride in her own Latin roots.
What ethnicity is Bella Thorne?