We’ve all done it. You meet someone new, take one good look at them and ask (almost rhetorically): “So, where are you from?” Often we expect faces to match exotic countries around the world, but frequently the response, complemented with a puzzled expression, is something like: “Oh, umm Michigan…”
But Latinos come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, We can be white and blonde gueros, we can be black, and every color in between. We are gay, Muslim, Asian, Jewish, Indigenous, and so much more.
Here are 32 Latino celebrities that you probably didn’t know are, in fact, Latino.
1. Nicole Richie
You likely know Nicole Richie as Lionel Richie’s daughter and from “The Simple Life” with bestie Paris Hilton. Nicole was actually adopted by Lionel and her biological family has Mexican ancestry.
I mean people really didn’t know…
Like it was a serious shock apparently to many across social media.
2. Aubrey Plaza
The Parks and Recreation star is boricua pa’que lo sepas, but in several interviews, she said that people never think she’s Puerto Rican. “I’m very fair-skinned, but I feel really connected to that side of my family.”
3. Alexis Bedel
Yep, it’s true! The actress, best known for her role as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, was born to Argentinian parents (her mom grew up in Mexico) and raised in a Spanish-speaking household. She’s told Latina that she’s often assumed to be Irish.
4. Bruno Mars
Born Peter Hernandez to Puerto Rican and Filipino parents, Mars changed his name to avoid being stereotyped in the music industry, he told GQ.com. “People would say, ‘Your last name’s Hernandez, maybe you should do Latin music … Enrique Iglesias is so hot right now!'”
5. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made a name for herself as the (very tan) of New Jersey’s Italian-Americans. But she was actually born in Chile and adopted by an Italian-American family when she was just six months old.
6. Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz’s father is of Cuban descent, born and raised in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City. The bubbly blonde actress told Vogue magazine she spent part of her summers as a child in Tampa with her over-protective grandmother, “playing cards, eating steak and rice and beans and drinking RC Cola and watching soap operas.”
7. Jessica Alba
Actress Jessica Alba’s father is Mexican-American, and she says she takes pride in being Latina, despite rumors to the contrary.
8. Sara Paxton
WIth roles on “Good Girls” and “Last House on the Left”, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Sara says people are often surprised to learn she’s half Mexican.
“People never believe me,”she told The Huffington Post. “I think it’s because they have this stereotype of what a Latina’s supposed to look like, and I don’t fit that typical look.”
9. Hulk Hogan
Considered by some as the greatest professional wrestler ever, Hulk Hogan, born in Georgia. But did you know that he has Panamanian roots?
10. Kid Cudi
Kid Cudi’s real name is Scott Ramon Seguro. His father is a proud Mexican-American.
11. Frankie Muniz
Everyone knew of Frankie Muniz while growing up thanks to “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Agent Cody Banks.”
While Frankie is his stage name, his real name is Francisco, probably thanks to his Puerto Rican father.
12. Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch’s apellido is Tejada. The soap opera star changed her name while trying to make it in Hollywood, but her father was born in La Paz, Bolivia.
13. Uma Thurman
You probably know Uma Thurman from her role in “Pulp Fiction” but did you know she has Mexican roots? Her mother, a fashion model named Nena von Schlebrügge, was born in Mexico City before moving to New York to be a model.
14. Vanna White
You know her as the legendary hostess of Wheel of Fortune, but White – whose very last name hints that she’s Caucasian— is actually part-Latina!
You see, “White” is not Vanna’s real apellido—it’s the name she took from her stepfather Herbert Stackley WhiteJr., a former real estate agent in North Myrtle Beach. Not much is known about Vanna’s real father whose name is Miguel Angel Rosich, except that he was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and abandoned the family when she was a child.
15. Mark Ballas
Professional ballroom dancer Mark Ballas (Dancing With the Stars) is half-Greek, and half-Mexican. Ballas’ paternal grandmother was named Maria Luisa Marulanda Ballas — and while she is not Latina herself — Ballas’ mother, Shirley Ballas is an award-winning dancer who won the 1995 International Latin American Dance Championship, earning the nickname “The Queen of Latin.”
16. James Roday
The last name trips people up, James says, but the Psych star, who’s half Mexican, changed it from Rodriguez to Roday when he launched his career for two reasons: There was already another James Rodriguez registered in the Screen Actors Guild, and an agent at the network where he landed his first job worried that they would look like they were skirting around issues of diversity by casting a white Latino.
Fergie was everywhere in the early 2000s as part of the musical group The Black Eyed Peas. But, now you know that she has Mexican ancestry in her family line.
Rep. Ilan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, is receiving criticism from both sides of the aisle after she tweeted that Latinos wouldn’t benefit from a merit-based immigration plan.
Many on the left are upset with her for seemingly have implied that the Latino community wouldn’t qualify based on merit. While many on the right are just hungry for more misinformation and drama surrounding the freshman Congresswoman.
In a now-deleted tweet, the Congresswoman was appearing to question the real reasoning behind a merit-based immigration policy.
Often times, the Trump administration has used this coded term to refer to a system of stopping immigration from brown and black countries, or shithole countries as he once referred to many of them.
She clearly stated that immigration policies should be humane, legal, and fair. And welcome people of all sorts of backgrounds.
The Trump administration’s recently released immigration plan doubles down on a merit-based policy, one that research shows is inherently racist.
Currently, only 12% of immigrants to the US qualify based on skills and very few Latinos are ever awarded visas of this type.
However, many on the left, including Latinos, are very upset with the Congresswoman’s choice of words.
Some on Twitter did come to the Congresswoman’s defense and noted that a merit-based system would likely work against Latinos. The problem is, she didn’t exactly get the wording right.
With the rhetoric from the Trump administration, it’s safe to say this policy wouldn’t be applied equally.
But overwhelmingly, Latinos on Twitter were just sick and tired of being underestimated.
All too often, Latinos of all backgrounds are thought of as impoverished, undereducated, or underskilled immigrants. We are often described as migrant workers or refugees, all of us lumped into the same category.
Yes, there are communities in urgent need of relief from persecution in their home countries, including refugees. But it’s simply not true that they couldn’t qualify under a merit-based system.
Many immigrants from all over Latin America are doctors, engineers, lawyers, with so much to offer the US. This is the point that was lost on many across social media.
And, of course, Sen. Ted Cruz had to chime in and offer his two cents.
Though many were quick to point out that Cruz’s family emigrated to Canada before arriving in the US. And that he himself was born in Canada, making it a lot easier to gain legal status in the US.
All of this just shows how important it is to choose your words very carefully unless you want to invite a firestorm from both sides.