These Inspiring Puerto Ricans Are Spreading Their Culture And Light As Far And Wide As They Can
It wasn’t that long ago that there were hardly any Puerto Ricans in the spotlight, but today, we’re everywhere. We could not fit on one page the number of world famous Puerto Ricans and I’m talking about people coming from an island as big as Delaware and Rhode Island combined. When was the last time you heard of any proud Rhode Islander Renaissance Women or Genre Starters?
That’s because, like our mami’s always told us, we’re special. There’s mágico in our veins.
Rita Moreno is the ultimate Boricua icon for every person on this list. Born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Moreno is one of few people in history to become an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winner. In fact, she is the first Latina with this honor.
It almost feels wrong to place J.Lo second to anyone, but we think she’d side with Rita Moreno being No. 1.
J.Lo rose to fame for portraying Selena Quintanilla in “Selena” and es la Reina in acting, music and even has her own production company, Nuyorican Productions.
Marc Anthony and J.Lo were basically the Puerto Rican royal family until their split. To this day, the two are good friends and share twins together.
Marc Anthony is top selling tropical salsa artist in history.
This has been Bad Bunny’s year. Born in Playa Vega Baja, Bad Bunny just released a single with Marc Anthony, “Está Rico.” He’s puro Boricua and has been outspoken in raising awareness for Puerto Rico’s continued state of emergency after Hurricane Maria. His own family is still running on generators.
Born as Peter Hernandez in Hawaii, Bruno Mars is the son of a Puerto Rican Jewish father. Bruno Mars writes all his own songs, and even writes songs for other famous artists. We’re in high demand, what can I say?
If you’re Boricua, you were basically either born in Puerto Rico or New York. Rosario Dawson was born and raised in NYC to a Puerto Rican and Cuban mother. Today, she’s famous for her role in “Rent,” and all five of Netflix’s Marvel series.
She also co-founded Voto Latino, which encourages young Latinos to register to vote.
Okay, so as kids we had Rita Moreno and a baby Ricky Martin to fangirl over when he was in Puerto Rican boy band Menudo. Martin is basically the King of Latin Pop. He’s one of the first Spanish language artists to transition into the English-language field, beginning with his song “Livin’ la Vida Loca.”
Fun fact: Luis Fonsi auditioned for Menudo when he was a kid. Fortunately, his life went exactly as is or else the world would be lost without “Despacito.” Luis Fonsi won four Latin Grammy Awards for that song alone.
Gina Rodriguez is made famous as Jane Villanueva in “Jane the Virgin,” where she plays Rita Moreno’s granddaughter. Apparently, when she was a kid, she asked her mom, “Ma, when did Puerto Ricans come about?” Confused mom said, “What do you mean, Gina?”
“Well I never see us on my favorite TV shows or movies. We must not have existed back then, right?” That’s when her mom introduced her to Rita Moreno and the rest was history. She was in love.
Lin-Manuel Miranda may be on his way to becoming the next EGOT. He’s won a Pulitzer Prize, several Tonys and a Grammy for “Hamilton.” He received an Oscar and Grammy nomination for his composing for “Moana.”
Princess Nokia and Bad Bunny share their SoundCloud fame in common. Born in NYC, Princess Nokia was orphaned at age 2 when her mother died of AIDS. She lived in an abusive foster care system, for which the statistics are against kids from even graduating high school.
Princess Nokia started releasing tracks on SoundCloud and her feminist, anti-colonial rhymes made her go viral. Today, she’s relentlessly fighting to raise funds for Puerto Rico.
M-Rod was born to a Dominican mother and Boricua father. It’s no wonder she’s frequently casted for tough characters.
Baseball is everything for us, and Roberto Clemente is no doubt the most beloved sports star in Puerto Rican history. That’s why you see his jersey number, 21, all over el calle.
Carmelo Anthony is our modern day sports hero. He’s won three Olympic gold medals as part of Team USA, and he regularly goes back to Puerto Rico to help create and maintain sporting facilities for youth.
Laurie Hernandez won Gold for Team USA and silver on the balance beam. At the Olympics that year, she was very excited to represent Latinos and told People Magazine, “When I was a little kid, I don’t remember looking up and seeing so many Hispanic athletes out there. But look at this Olympics.”
Born in San Juan, Daddy Yankee is no question an icon in Puerto Rico. Known as the King of Reggaetón, Daddy Yankee has always been ahead of his time. when he first started rapping for DJ Playero’s mixtapes, the Puerto Rican government actually banned the music.
This marked the beginning of a whole new genre that I can’t imagine life without: Reggaetón.
Fun Fact: Don Omar, born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, actually spent several years delivering sermons at his local Protestant church. He left to launch his music career, Dios nos bendiga.
Born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Farruko is another big name in Reggaeton. His collaboration with J Balvin earned their song “6 AM” a Latin Grammy! He’s still mixing tapes for Marc Anthony & Bad Bunny in their latest single “Está Rico.”
Born in San Juan, Ozuna had a rough go of life. His father was shot and killed when he was just three years old. He started writing songs when he was 12 years old and this year, he won the Billboard Latin Music Award for Artist of the Year!
You might not know Ferrer, but you should. His nephew is George Clooney. Born in San Juan, Ferrer went on to go to Princeton (1933) and become a famous Broadway actor, symphony pianist and actor. He was the first Latino to win an Academy Award (1950).
Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Last, but probably the most important of all, is Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Her parents both left Puerto Rico separately and met in the U.S. after her mother served in the Women’s Army Corps for WWII. That’s right. Sonia had her own mother as a feminist icon and now we have her.