Once again, a movie with a diverse and predominately persons of color cast is proving the power of diversity in entertainment. “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first film to have an all-Asian cast in a quarter century since “The Joy Luck Club,” closed its opening weekend with over $25 million in North American theaters. Oh, and one of the actors has Latino roots. If producers, directors, screenwriters haven’t noticed, audiences want leading stars who look like them and stories that encompass their experiences growing up. After all, representation matters.
To honor the stellar cast, screenwriters and novelist behind “Crazy Rich Asians,” we’re introducing you to nine Asian-Latino entertainers who are making a path in entertainment both in the U.S. and Latin America.
1. Ana Gabriel: Singer and Composer
Known for her unequivocal raspy voice, the “Quién Como Tú” singer has Chinese heritage by way of her maternal grandfather. The Mexican-Chinese singer is one of the greatest voices in Latin America and that’s just a fact.
2. Harry Shum Jr.: Actor
Harry Shum Jr. danced his way into our hearts as Mike Chang on “Glee” and has since appeared in several other films, including the hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” He was born in Costa Rica and relocated with his family to San Francisco when he was 6 years old.
3. Bruno Mars: Singer
Many of us know Bruno Mars has Asian Latino roots—his father is half Puerto Rican, half Ashkenazi Jewish, while his mother was born in the Philippines. But you probably didn’t know Bruno Mars was nicknamed ‘Bruno’ by his father after the wrestler Bruno Sammartino. The singer’s real nombre is Peter Gene Hernandez.
4. Tatyana Ali: Actress
Now this is a story all about how Tatyana Ali (who portrayed Ashley Banks on the emblematic ‘90s show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) has Indo-Trinidadian roots from her father who was born in Trinidad & Tobago, and Panamanian roots via her mother. Apart from her acting career, Ali has been active in politics after graduating from Harvard as a government and African-American studies major.
5. Barbara Mori: Actress
Mori is an actress, model and producer who rose to fame in Mexico. Her paternal grandfather was Japanese, and she grew up moving between Uruguay and Mexico City before settling in Mexico City at the age of 12. One of her most popular telenovela works is “Amor descarado.”
6. Jasmine Villegas : Singer
The 24-year-old singer signed with Sony at the age of 16 and appeared on Justin Bieber’s “Baby” music video. She has both Mexican and Filipino roots. Did you know she even dated the Biebs for a bit? Es-can-da-lo.
7. Daniella Alonso: Actress
Alonso is Puerto Rican on her mother’s side and Peruvian and Japanese on her father’s side. The actress is best know for her roles as Anna Taggarro in “One Tree Hill” and Missy in “The Hills Have Eyes II.”
8. Leonardo Nam: Actor
Nam was born in Buenos Aires and is of Korean descent. After growing up in Australia, the actor moved to New York to pursue his dream of acting. You might recognize him from his role as Lutz in “Westworld.”
9. Akihiro Sato: Model
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Brazil has the largest Asian Latino population in Latin America, and one of the entertainers making up part of that over 2 million regional population is male model Akihiro Sato. The 34-year-old is graced with chiseled abs and cheekbones and is part Japanese by way of his father and Brazilian via his mother.