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"I Should Not Have To Prove My Ethnicity To Anyone": 28 Multicultural Latino Celebs Who've Spoken About Their Identity

1.Jenna Ortega

Close-up of Jenna at a media event
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for the Met Museum/Vogue

The actor is Mexican and Puerto Rican. She told Deadline, "Being Latina has always been really, really lovely for me. It’s something that I’m very proud of. I grew up in a community [Coachella Valley, California] surrounded by all kinds of Hispanics, which was really wonderful because I never grew up with any sort of shame or any sort of fear of my culture."

Close-up of Jenna at a media event

She continued, "I do want to open the doors for as many Latin people as possible, just because we’re a beautiful community and we should be celebrated. The Latin community only take up 3% of all representation shown across television and film media. The TV world, the film world, should reflect what the real world looks like."

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

2.Zoe Saldaña

Close-up of Zoe smiling at a media event
ABC / ABC via Getty Images

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."

Close-up of Zoe smiling

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."

Joe Maher / Getty Images

3.Jordana Brewster

Close-up of Jordana smiling
Paul Archuleta / Getty Images

The actor is of Brazilian and European descent. She told HuffPost, "My mom is Brazilian, and I lived in Brazil from the age of 6 to 10. I consider it a huge part of myself, because those were formative years growing up. And as a kid, it was funny, because when I came to New York at the age of 10, I always felt very Brazilian, and then in Brazil, I always felt very American. So I always felt a little bit out of place."

Close-up of Jordana at a media event

She added, "[A] huge difference — from going from Brazil to an all-girls Catholic school in New York — was our lunches were completely different! My mom would pack this pasta with a side of apricots and rice with beans. There was no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ever! I remember being embarrassed, but now looking back I'm like, 'Well, actually that was, like, really, really healthy!'"

Axelle / FilmMagic / Getty Images

4.Freddie Prinze Jr.

Close-up of Freddie smiling at a media event
Vincent Sandoval / Getty Images

The actor is of Puerto Rican and European descent. Despite his pride in his Puerto Rican roots, he's struggled to land Latino roles in Hollywood. "I’ve received nothing but love from Latino taxi drivers to business owners, talking about being inspired by seeing a Latino who’s not running from the cops or dealing drugs," he told Yahoo Entertainment. “But within the industry, I’ve always been met with a ton of resistance by directors wanting to check my Latino heritage and see just how much I know."

Close-up of Freddie smiling and wearing a hat

"Every Latino you've seen me play [before Christmas With You] was always an after-the-fact thing. The role would be named Mike Smith and they'd say, 'Oh, we hired Freddie so we can show people how diverse we are.' And all of a sudden, his name is Miguel Ramirez. And that doesn't count, man! That does not count."

Steve Granitz / FilmMagic / Getty Images

5.Francia Raisa

Close-up of Francia smiling at a media event
Steve Granitz / FilmMagic / Getty Images

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."

Close-up of Francia smiling at a media event
Araya Doheny / Getty Images for Poderistas

6.Rosario Dawson

Close-up of Rosario smiling at a media event
Axelle / FilmMagic / Getty Images

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."

Close-up of Rosario smiling at a media event
Axelle / FilmMagic

7.Jessica Alba

Close-up of Jessica smiling  and wearing a strapless outfit
Cindy Ord / Getty Images for Vanity Fair

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.

Close-up of Jessica smiling at a media event

"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!"

Phillip Faraone / Getty Images for Baby2Baby

8.Aubrey Plaza

Close-up of Aubrey smiling at a media event
Gilbert Flores / Variety via Getty Images

The actor is Irish and Puerto Rican. When asked how she identifies on the Highly Relevant podcast, she replied, "The first thing I usually say is I'm half Puerto Rican. The Puerto Rican part is usually the thing I lead with because, just culturally, that's how I grew up. I identify with my Puerto Rican family probably more than anything else. ... The Puerto Rican side of my family, that was just home to me."

Close-up of Aubrey smiling at a media event

She continued, "April Ludgate on Parks and Rec. I was very adamant about going like, 'Look, maybe she's half Cuban. Maybe her mom's Cuban.' And they were like, 'Great idea!' Obviously, it wasn't about that, but in my own way, I feel like I try to portray Hispanic characters that aren't the stereotypes because that's one thing I think we're really up against. Especially Latina women. There's such a stereotype there, and there are so many different kinds of Hispanic women and people that we just don't even see. They're not represented on film or on television. It's just the same archetypes over and over again."

Robert Smith / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

9.Q'orianka Kilcher

Close-up of Q'orianka smiling at a media event
Rodin Eckenroth / FilmMagic / Getty Images

The actor told Time magazine that she "was born in Germany, raised in Hawai'i, and my father is from Peru. I’m Quechua-Huachipaeri from the jungles and highlands of South America, and Swiss, Alaskan, and French. ... I’m very proud of all of my roots." However, her mixed background made it difficult to land roles in Hollywood. "It’s been disheartening at times. I’m never Native enough, and I’m never white enough."

Close-up of Q'orianka smiling at a media event
Todd Williamson / E! Entertainment / NBC via Getty Images

10.Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars performing
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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."

Bruno performing onstage

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."

John Esparza / via Getty Images

11.Christina Aguilera

Close-up of Christina at a media event
Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images for Billboard

The singer is Ecuadorean and Irish. During an interview with Latina magazine, she addressed the criticism that she is not "Latina enough." She said, "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."

Close-up of Christina at a media event

"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."

Axelle / FilmMagic

12.Tessa Thompson

Close-up of Tessa at a media event in a strapless outfit
Momodu Mansaray / WireImage / Getty Images

The actor is of Afro-Panamanian, Mexican, and European descent. During an interview with Remezcla, she said, "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."

Close-up of Tessa at a media event in a shiny strapless dress

"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. ... Those stories are beautiful and interesting. They are the kind of stories I would love to see more of."

Michael Buckner / Variety via Getty Images

13.Selena Gomez

Close-up of Selena wearing a choker
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for WarnerMedia

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."

Close-up of Selena smiling at a media event

"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."

Emma Mcintyre / FilmMagic / Getty Images

14.Michaela Jaé Rodriguez

Close-up of Michaela onstage
Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images

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 individuals. 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."

Close-up of Michaela at the Golden Globe Awards

"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."

Matt Winkelmeyer / FilmMagic / Getty Images

15.Tyler Posey

Close-up of Tyler at a media event
Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Paramount+

The actor is Mexican and Irish. "I'm proud to be Latino," he said in a "Ones to Watch" video. He recalled a moment when 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."

Close-up of Tyler smiling at a media event
Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Paramount+

16.Cardi B

Close-up of Cardi smiling at a media event
Arturo Holmes / Getty Images for Whipshots

The rapper 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."

Cardi B at the Met Gala in a bejeweled halter-top outfit

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."

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for the Met Museum/Vogue

17.Alexa PenaVega

Close-up of Alexa smiling
Paul Archuleta / Getty Images

The actor is Colombian, French, and Cherokee. When discussing the difficulty of growing up mixed, she told Glamour magazine, "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 whitewashed.' 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."

Close-up of Alexa smiling

"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.'"

Paul Archuleta / Getty Images

18.Lee Rodriguez

Close-up of Lee at a media event
Steve Granitz / FilmMagic

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."

Close-up of Lee at a media event

"Everyone says this a lot, but it's so true: It feels good to see someone who looks like you onscreen. 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."

Leon Bennett / WireImage / Getty Images

19.Victoria Justice

Close-up of Victoria smiling at a media event
Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images for La Maison De Makoto

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."

Close-up of Victoria at a media event

"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."

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images


Close-up of Miguel smiling at a media event
Amy Sussman / Getty Images

The singer is Black and Mexican. During an interview with Remezcla, he recalled that the music industry struggled to understand his intersectionality at 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."

Close-up of Miguel onstage with a microphone

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."

Kevin Winter / Getty Images for iHeartMedia

21.Tori Kelly

Close-up of Tori smiling at a media event
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

The singer is Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and Irish. During an 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."

Close-up of Tori at a media event

"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."

Kayla Oaddams / FilmMagic

22.Bella Thorne

Close-up of Bella at a media event
Corey Nickols / Getty Images for IMDb

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 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."

Close-up of Bella at a media event
Stefania D'alessandro / WireImage / Getty Images

23.Oscar Isaac

Close-up of Oscar
Roy Rochlin / WireImage / Getty Images

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."

Close-up of Oscar at a media event

After winning a Golden Globe, he said, "[A lack of diversity 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."

Tommaso Boddi / WireImage / Getty Images

24.Amirah Vann

Close-up of Amirah smiling at a media event
Leon Bennett / Getty Images for Ebony Media Group

The actor is Black and Puerto Rican. She told Refinery29 Somos, "I’m fully Puerto Rican, and I’m fully African American." Amirah visited Puerto Rico in her early 20s and saw herself reflected in other Afro-Boricuas. "I’ll never forget the peace that came over me. 'Wow, no me tengo que cambiar. I’m not the outlier.' I never felt that until I got there and found peace on the other side of it."

Close-up of Amirah at a media event
Jim Spellman / WireImage / Getty Images

25.Michelle Rodriguez

Close-up of Michelle smiling at a media event
Toni Anne Barson / WireImage

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."

Close-up of Michelle smiling at a media event
Axelle / FilmMagic

26.Natalia Bryant

Close-up of Natalia smiling
Axelle / FilmMagic / Getty Images

The model and college student is Black and Mexican. "I’m biracial," she told Teen Vogue. "When I was younger, I didn’t really understand ... how I’m both. As I got older, I was able to understand."

Close-up of Natalia smiling at a media event in a strapless velvet dress
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27.Lela Loren

Close-up of Lela smiling at a media event
Michael Kovac / Getty Images for Starz

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."

Close-up of Lela smiling at a media event
Mark Sagliocco / FilmMagic / Getty Images

28.And finally: Colman Domingo

Close-up of Colman at a media event
Pool / Getty Images

The actor is Black and Guatemalan. He told EW how much he appreciates people recognizing his Afro-Latino identity. "For a lot of times, it's just gone by the wayside. I was like, 'Yeah, I'm a Black guy from Philadelphia, and my dad and his whole family, they're from Central America. They're absolutely Afro-Latino people [with] culture and the way they live, community, you name it.' So it's been really refreshing actually to say that, 'Oh, I can be all of those things.'"

Close-up of Colman at a media event in a brocade suit

"I've noticed that people have been laying claim to me a bit more in a wonderful way, 'Oh, that's ours, too. We see ourselves in that,' and don't diminish it. Because you rarely see Afro-Latinos in the press as well. I feel like there's been a dim light on that, so I feel proud that I get to represent both."

Trae Patton / NBC via Getty Images

Join BuzzFeed in celebrating Latine Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

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