Xuenou > Celebrity > Selena Gomez, Oscar Isaac, And 19 Other Multicultural Latine Celebs Who’ve Opened Up About Their Identity
Selena Gomez, Oscar Isaac, And 19 Other Multicultural Latine Celebs Who’ve Opened Up About Their Identity
"I think being Latina is about having pride in your heritage," Rosario Dawson said. "Although I am not a fluent Spanish speaker, and I can’t make every dish without a recipe, I am 100% Boricua, and I am proud of that."

Selena Gomez, Oscar Isaac, And 19 Other Multicultural Latine Celebs Who’ve Opened Up About Their Identity

1. Aubrey Plaza

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“In Hollywood, I don’t think there’s enough real representation and nuance in that space. I see a lot of incredible Afro Latinas working, but I’m not sure that there are enough stories told that speak to that particular experience. I’m really interested in telling stories like my grandmother’s.”

“My grandmother came from Panama — from Colón — to the United States for an education when she was a young woman in her 20s. She met my grandfather, who’s a Black man from Oklahoma. They had my aunt, and then, they had my father. Then, she lived essentially as a Black woman in the United States — because, well, that’s who people assumed that she was, but her first language was Spanish. She didn’t learn English until she was in her 20s and already in the US. She had a rich cultural experience that was really full but was erased in some ways, because she came to this country and needed to assimilate.”

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“Those stories are fascinating! My grandmother died when I was 16, and she had Alzheimer’s. I didn’t get to speak to her about what her experience was — of being inside her skin, and then leaving her home, and then being in America, and then having to also deal with race here. Those stories are beautiful and interesting. They are the kind of stories I would love to see more of,” she concluded.

3. Jessica Alba

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The actor is Mexican, Danish, English, French, and German. “Growing up in California in my grandmother’s house, surrounded by tías, tíos, and all my cousins, I always felt a deep connection to my Mexican-American roots,” she wrote in an article for Pop Sugar. She recalled her family’s history, from her great-grandparents’ immigration to the US to the segregation they faced to their love for the performing arts.

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“Most people say I look like my abuela Isabel Martinez, but the truth is that I inherited a lot from her,” Jessica wrote. “She did more than what was expected of women of her generation; she got her GED, ran a business, helped support the family while her husband went to school, and raised generations of family in their home. She’s my icon of resourcefulness, determination, and drive. Basically, she’s the ultimate boss.”

“I always thought our ancestors were Spanish, but I learned through genetic testing that they were Native American, with roots that may go back as far as the Mayan civilization. We’ve been here from the beginning!”

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4. Cardi B

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The singer is Trinidadian and Dominican. “I always feel I am representing the Dominican Republic because I love Dominican people, I love being Dominican,” she said during an Instagram Live. “The fire of my heart as I act is because that is how we are.”

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During an interview for CR Fashion Book, she said, “One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people. And a lot of people be attacking me because they feel like I don’t be saying that I’m Black. Some people want to decide if you’re Black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture. I don’t got to tell you that I’m Black. I expect you to know it.”

5. Christina Aguilera

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The singer is Ecuadorian and Irish. During an interview with Latina Magazine, she addressed the criticism that she is not “Latina enough.” “I’ve dealt with that my whole life. I don’t speak the language fluently. And I’m split right down the middle, half Irish and half Ecuadorean. I should not have to prove my ethnicity to anyone. I know who I am.”

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“I wouldn’t be questioned [about my heritage] if I looked more stereotypically Latina,” she continued. “Whatever that is. All I know is no one can tell me I’m not a proud Latina woman.”

6. Francia Raisa

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The actor is Mexican and Honduran. During an interview with Latina Style Magazine, she said, “I am half Mexican, half Hondureña, first-generation American. Being Latin is my life. I didn’t realize I was American until maybe I was in high school, but I also didn’t know anything else until I was 3 or 4 years old. I spoke one language at home. I ate one type of food. I listened to one kind of music, and then I went to school, and all of a sudden, it was a whole other language, and they were giving me food without tortillas. So, navigating both worlds has been my life, and I still do it until this day.”

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She told Complex, “Honestly, I can’t even believe that I’ve worked as much as I have in this business, considering that I am Latina. I’m happy to have been a part of the movement to break down that door for us. I didn’t even realize that I was a part of it until Diane Guerrero (from Orange Is The New Black) actually brought it to my attention. Because it is tough auditioning and not seeing roles that are specifically for you. I remember a time when I would go to an audition and just see everyone blonde, and then it was me. So, I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get the part.’ 

“But it’s definitely changing. It’s getting better, but it’s not there yet. I can’t wait until we get the opportunity to be leads in any type of project, and not just specifically Latinx films or television. There are still roles that are far and few between, but I am so honored that I have had such a great career and aspire to just keep going, and I have my hopes and dreams, too. So, I hope I’m able to accomplish and break down even more barriers.”

7. Bruno Mars

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The singer is Puerto Rican, Ashkenazi Jewish, Filipino, and Spanish. He told Latina Magazine, “There are a lot of people who have this mixed background that are in this gray zone. A lot of people think, ‘This is awesome. You’re in this gray zone, so you can pass for whatever the hell you want.’ But it’s not like that at all. It’s actually the exact opposite. What we’re trying to do is educate people to know what that feels like so they’ll never make someone feel like that ever again. Which is a hard thing to do. Because no one can see what we see, and no one can grow up with what we grew up with.”

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After he was accused of changing his stage name to hide his Puerto Rican heritage, Bruno said, “I never once said I changed my last name to hide the fact that I’m Puerto Rican. Why would I fucking say that? Who are you fooling? And why would anyone say that? That’s so insulting to me, to my family. That’s ridiculous. My last name is Hernandez.”

8. Selena Gomez

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The singer is Mexican and Italian. During an interview with Dazed, she said, “I’m always very vocal about my background, as far as me talking about immigration, and my grandparents having to come across the border illegally. I wouldn’t have been born (otherwise). I have such an appreciation for my last name.”

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“I’ve rereleased a lot of music in Spanish as well, and that’s something that’s gonna happen a bit more. So, there’s a lot more I would love to do because I don’t take it lightly. I’m very honored.”

9. Michaela Jaé Rodriguez

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The actor is Black and Puerto Rican. In an essay penned for the Emmys website, she wrote, “I grew up under a roof of driven inpiduals. My mother is an African-American woman, my father is a half Puerto Rican, half African-American man, and my stepfather an African-American man. At a very young age, I knew that being a young Afro Latina, there were going to be some uphill climbs for me.”

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“My mother noticed the areas in which I excelled as an actress and as a singer,” she continued. “She nurtured and facilitated those dreams as best as she could and put me into art programs from the age of 7 all the way up until I was 18 years old. She also prepared me for the obstacles ahead, knowing that as a person who is part of three different minority communities, how much harder I would have to work compared to my white peers. The fight for identity, existence, and liberation for myself and others like me would be long and challenging.”

“There’s just not enough being done within the Black and Latino communities as far as representation is concerned, behind and in front of the cameras. Diversity has always been pushed in my household so not seeing it fully exhibited and embraced breaks my heart. I do feel like there’s a lot of exposure around our identities as people of color, but there’s still much that needs to be done.”

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10. Tyler Posey

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The actor is Mexican and Irish. “I’m proud to be Latino,” he said in a Ones to Watch video. He recalled a moment where a fan told him how much it meant to see a Latino lead on a show like Teen Wolf. “It really stuck with me and struck me. I have moments of it bursting out of me in ways I wouldn’t really expect. And I love it.”

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11. Rosario Dawson

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The actor is Puerto Rican, Afro Cuban, Irish, and Native American. She told Latina Magazine, “I think being Latina is about having pride in your heritage. Although I am not a fluent Spanish speaker, and I can’t make every dish without a recipe, I am 100% Boricua, and I am proud of that.”

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12. Victoria Justice

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The actor is of Puerto Rican, English, German, and Irish descent. “I am half Puerto Rican. The entire side of my mom’s family is full Puerto Rican,” she said in a Teen Nick video. “Being Hispanic-American, to me, means being able to be a role model for kids, someone on TV that can represent who they are.”

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“I feel like if you’re Latin, you love to eat. I know everyone in my family loves eating. It’s just a great way to talk, bond, have fun, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company.”

13. Alexa PenaVega

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The actor is Colombian, French, and Cherokee. When discussing the difficulty of growing up mixed, she told Glamour, “My issue [was that] I looked white, but I come from a Colombian family. I think my struggle was trying to convince people that I was Hispanic. In my own culture, I had trouble fitting in because I wanted to be that Colombian girl, but instead, they’re like, ‘You’re so white-washed.’ It’s like, ‘Well, I live in the states!’ But that is my culture, that’s who I am. We’re all about the food and the family and the love.”

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“It was so interesting growing up and trying to find that balance of [feeling] like I was never really one or the other. I wanted to live both, and I think I did that well. However, people want you to pick one. You’re either white or Hispanic. You can’t be both. Even when you fill out paperwork, they don’t let you fill out white and Hispanic. It’s either you’re Hispanic or you’re white, pick one. But I was like, ‘That’s not who I am, that’s not fair.'”

14. Zoe Saldaña

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The actor is Afro Latina (Dominican and Puerto Rican). “There’s something really beautiful about being first-generation,” she told Glam Belleza Latina. “You’re in the middle, and you have to bring your parents and your grandparents to the other side. Yet, once you’re on the other side, you want to maintain the beauty of tradition. I feel like I was raised in a very balanced way. My mom wanted us to always be who we are, but she told us fables and stories of where we come from.”

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When asked how being a Black Latina informs her identity, Zoe replied, “I am proud to be Latina. I will not accept [anyone] telling me that I’m less or whatever, because to me, that is just hysterical.”

15. Bella Thorne

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The actor is Cuban, Italian, and Irish. In an Instagram post, she wrote, “Honestly, I wish I looked more Latin so I could feel more Latin so I could feel closer to my father and be prouder of my heritage…to wear my heritage on my skin. It’s just hard sometimes when no one thinks u are who u are…and everyone wants u to be something else :/ I LOVE MY CUBAN HERITAGE.”

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16. Miguel

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The singer is Black and Mexican. During an interview with Remezcla, he recalled that the music industry struggled to understand his intersectionality in the beginning of his career. “It was definitely a point of, ‘Huh? We don’t really get it.’ A lot of my audience didn’t know I was Mexican.”

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During an interview with Viceland, he said, “Most people think of me solely as a Black artist, but there’s a reason why my name is Miguel.”

17. Lela Loren

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The actor is of Mexican and European descent. “I learned to speak Spanish later in life. I learned after the age of 10,” she told the Source. “I have family from Mexico, and I wanted to be able to communicate with them, and my father’s Caucasian, so we never spoke it in the home. And then, in some ways, it was a really great skill because actually now with television spanning the range that it spans, it’s a good skill set.”

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18. Michelle Rodriguez

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The actor is Dominican and Puerto Rican. Throughout her career, she has been mindful of the roles she plays because she doesn’t want to contribute to the typical Latine stereotypes in film. She once said, “I steer away from sexually subversive content because it is the most exploited facet of filmmaking and television for Latina women.”

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19. Tori Kelly

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The singer is Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and Irish. During a 2021 interview with People Chica, she said, “My grandmother on my dad’s side was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She is still there now. My dad never picked up Spanish, and he never taught it to me, and I want to learn. I haven’t been in Puerto Rico since I was 16, but it’s a huge part of my childhood. I remember her coming over and cooking plátanos for us.”

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“My dad is half Puerto Rican and half Jamaican, and I’m very proud of that Caribbean side of me. I’m inspired by gospel, pop music, R&B, rock, and I want to get into some reggae. Maybe I’ll do a Caribbean album at some point,” she concluded.

20. Lee Rodriguez

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The actor is Black and Mexican. During an interview with Refinery 29, she shared that she grew up inspired by Afro Latina actors like Tessa Thompson and Zoe Saldaña. Now, young girls look up to her. “It’s such an honor to be a part of [Never Have I Ever], let alone be that representation. It has really opened my eyes a lot and has really humbled and inspired me so much.”

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“Everyone says this a lot, but it’s so true: It feels good to see someone who looks like you on screen. It genuinely gives a sense of inspiration. It gives a sense of like, ‘Oh, I can do that, too,’ or ‘I can be in this space and be myself’…I really love that. I really love when people feel like they can see themselves through Fabiola and feel represented. It’s truly an honor.”

21. And finally, Oscar Isaac

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The actor is Guatemalan and Cuban. He told NBC News, “I was born in Guatemala, and I have a Cuban father, but left when I was a young baby, an infant. We moved to Baltimore, then lived a little bit in Louisiana, then settled in South Florida. I actually just got back from Guatemala, which was a lot of fun. I got to travel around to Lake Atitlán and Antigua.”

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After winning a Golden Globe, he said, “[A lack of persity in Hollywood] is still happening. There’s not a lot of us. And it’s difficult for people that look not like the status quo in this country to get great roles. And it’s happening a little bit more, and I feel humbled and honored and blessed to have the opportunity to do that. And hopefully, that’ll happen more — the people that cast films and TV shows, hopefully they’ll be able to see past their limited ideas of what ethnicity is.”

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