Though the internet has made the minutiae of celebrities’ everyday lives a 24/7 consumable product, there are still a few things you might not know about your favorite stars, like their racial heritage. Beyoncé, Rihanna, Halle Berry, Drake, Mariah Carey, Barack Obama — these are some of the most famous mixed-raced celebrities, but diversity of race, culture, and tradition is prevalent and celebrated around the world now more than at any time in human history. Populations of various colors, ethnicity, and languages can now be found in the most massive metropolis or the smallest town. According to NPR, mixed-race people are one of the "fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population." The swirl is coming!
So who are the multiracial celebs you might have missed? From musical icons and sports stars to legendary superheroes and emerging artists, let’s take a look at some celebrities you didn’t know were biracial.
We highly doubt you listen to Fall Out Boy and instantly thinks "reggae," but bassist Pete Wentz (Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III ) knows all about it. His mother, Dale Wentz, was born in Jamaica, and his black maternal grandfather, Arthur Winston Lewis, served as U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone. "I grew up going [to Jamaica] a lot," he told Altpress. "I didn’t appreciate then that while Bob Marley and the Wailers are cool, it goes much deeper than that."
As if that didn’t blow your mind, the rocker is also related to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Yeah, he’s my great uncle," Pete told Vice in 2013. "I met him around Desert Storm, and at the age, I was at there was a bunch of great propaganda done for it, where there were, like, trading cards and T-shirts and s**t, and you were convinced that was cool. I remember asking him, ‘Oh man! Are you going to be using bazookas?’ I can’t even imagine, like, wow. What a goofy thing to ask."
Born in Washington D.C. to a Mexican-Jewish father and an Irish mother, comedian Louis C.K lived in Mexico until he was 7 and learned Spanish as his first language. Calling himself an "accidental white person" in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2013, C.K. claimed that when his family relocated to Boston, people saw that he was "white with red hair."
"Race doesn’t mean what it used to in America anymore," he said. "It just doesn’t. Obama’s black, but he’s not black the way people used to define that. Is black your experience or the color of your skin? My experience is as a Mexican immigrant, more so than someone like George Lopez. He’s from California. But he’ll be treated as an immigrant. I am an outsider. My abuelita, my grandmother, didn’t speak English. My whole family on my dad’s side is in Mexico. I won’t ever be called that or treated that way, but it was my experience."
Before Gal Gadot donned the uniform of the iconic Amazon warrior princess from Themyscira, Miss World 1972 Lynda Carter played Wonder Woman for three seasons on the cheesy television show with a heart of gold. Little did audiences know at the time, Carter’s mother hailed from Mexico.
According to 55 + Magazine, Carter was born Linda Jean Cordova Carter, and he mother, Juana Cordova, hailed from Chihuahua, Mexico," 55 + Magazine says. Her grandmother reportedly told her "that’s where beautiful women come from." No argument from us there.
In 2016, Carter took on critics who asserted that Wonder Woman’s skin tone and skimpy outfits undermined her feminist power. "Yeah, so? Superman had a skintight outfit that showed every little ripple, didn’t he? Doesn’t he have a great big bulge in his crotch? Hello! So why don’t they complain about that?" she asked The New York Times. "And who says Wonder Woman is "white"? I’m half-Mexican. Gal Gadot is Israeli. The character is an Amazonian princess, not ‘American.’ They’re trying to put her in a box, and she’s not in a box."
Bob Marley brought reggae to the masses and became a musical and cultural icon while adorning dorm room walls across America and beyond. Growing up in abject poverty in the slums of Jamaica, Marley escaped obscurity with his sheer talent and willpower. In a sad bit of irony, this towering legend might have never been born if it weren’t for the British colonial service.
"Nesta Robert Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. His father was a white British naval captain named Norval Sinclair Marley, who was nearly 60 at the time. His mother, Cedella, was a 19-year-old country village girl," reported Biography. "Because of his mixed racial makeup, Bob was bullied and derogatorily nicknamed ‘White Boy’ by his neighbors. However, he later said the experience helped him develop this philosophy: I’m not on the white man’s side, or the black man’s side. I’m on God’s side.’"
Ten-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony has been a scoring machine since entering the league in 2003, and we assume opponents and fans alike are familiar with the Puerto Rican flag tattooed on the sharpshooter’s right hand. Anthony’s Puerto Rican father died when the small forward was just 2 years old, but his dad’s words are always with him. "[My dad] wrote poetry. I have a book full of poems that he wrote. The book is too heavy to carry around, so I leave it in my office, but I always try to go back and read them," Anthony told ESPN.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the biracial baller (Melo’s mom is African American) used his celebrity status to bring awareness to those suffering in Puerto Rico and even set up a donation page to provide much-needed relief. "I think about my own family in that situation and I can’t even wrap my mind around it. I can’t grasp it," he wrote in the Players’ Tribune.
Best known for her breakout role as April Ludgate, TV’s favorite millennial stereotype on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, actress Aubrey Plaza was born to a white mother and Puerto Rican father. "A lot of people don’t assume I’m Puerto Rican because I’m fair skinned," she told Cosmopolitan. "But I feel very connected to that side of my family."
However, Plaza told Latina magazine that being biracial often puts her in an uncomfortable spot. "I was winning the diversity awards and people were always calling bullshit on me," she said. "I won the Hispanic teenager of the year and I felt terrible. I always felt like I didn’t deserve to win because I was really half [Latino]."
Regardless, Plaza used her platform to help raise funds for the U.S. territory following Hurricane Irma in 2017. "Please join my family to raise funds for Puerto Rico!" she tweeted. "Help rebuild paradise with us! We [heart] Puerto Rico!"
Rapper J. Cole was born to a white mother and black father and raised in the military town of Fayetteville, N.C. The hip-hop artist says his biracial identity offers him a unique perspective because he’s "seen both sides." He told XXL magazine, "I can identify with white people, because I know my mother, her side of the family, who I love. I’ve had white friends … But at the end of the day, I never felt white. I don’t know what that feels like. I can identify. But never have I felt like I’m one of them."
Cole said, "I identify more with what I look like, because that’s how I got treated. Not necessarily in a negative way. But when you get pulled over by the police, I can’t pull out my half-White card. Or if I just meet you on the street, you’re not gonna be like, this guy seems half-white."
Although swimmer Ryan Lochte could be the poster boy for white ‘Merica dude bro culture, his mother was born in Havana, Cuba before emigrating to the United States to escape the Castro regime. She eventually settled in Florida, where Lochte began training to become a 12-time Olympic medalist.
"When he won the gold medal … all I could think about what was my parents went through and how he’s there representing the United States, and my parents wanted us to be there so badly, to be in the United States," his mother, Ileana Lochte, told NBC News. "And to see him up there with the American flag, it was great."
As a swimmer, Ryan consumed 8,000 calories a day. What did that diet consist of when he visited his mom? Lots of Cuban food, of course. "When he comes home, he has picadillo, he has ropa vieja, anything that he wants," Ileana told NBC Latino.
Born in England in 1965, Guns N’ Roses guitar god Slash (real name Saul Hudson) is about as hippie as you can get. His father, Anthony Hudson, was a white Englishman who designed album covers for Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. His mother, Ola Hudson, was a black fashion designer who styled the likes of David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Elton John. Imagine growing up around that.
In a 2011 interview with The Quietus, Slash says "political things" happening in the ’60s were "having a massive influence on youth culture," and in a way, he was born out of protest to the status quo. "Being born in England to an English dad and a black mom is about as 60s as it gets. My grandparents were f***ing floored!"
Slash finds some sublime irony in his biracial heritage. "As a musician, I’ve always been amused that I’m both British and black; particularly because so many American musicians seem to aspire to be British while so many British musicians, in the sixties in particular, went to such great pains to be black," he said (via Voices of East Anglia).
Singer-songwriter Halsey burst onto the international music scene with her debut album, Badlands, and although she looks white, the New Jersey girl is biracial — born to a white mother and a black father – and she wants the world to know that.
"I’m white-passing. I’ve accepted that about myself and have never tried to control anything about black culture that’s not mine," the electro-pop singer explained in a 2017 interview with Playboy (per The Huffington Post). "I look like a white girl, but I don’t feel like one. I’m a black woman. So it’s been weird navigating that. When I was growing up I didn’t know if I was supposed to love TLC or Britney."
Being biracial prompted some unfortunate childhood moments. "When I was little, if someone saw me and my dad walking through, like, a grocery store parking lot, women would come up to us and be like, ‘Sweetie, are you okay?’" she told Vulture. "Because they saw a little white girl walking with a black man."