“Everything About Me Seemed To Be A Source Of Ridicule To Other Kids”: 27 Multicultural Celebrities Who’ve Opened Up About Their Identity


1. KJ Apa

Multicultural Celebrities

The performer is of European and Samoan ancestry. He revealed to Mr Porter’s The Journal in 2020 that he is half Samoan, but no one knows it as he is white and has red hair. In Samoa, my dad is a chief. Because I had so many Samoan relatives growing up and because I am so closely connected to the Samoan culture, I almost feel like I identify more as a Samoan than as a New Zealander. I regret not pursuing it more and feel embarrassed of myself.”

KJ was given the matai (chief) title Savae in 2022. His post on Instagram following the event read, “My goal is to serve my family and my village (Moata’a).”

2. Olivia Rodrigo

The vocalist is of European and Filipino ancestry. She stated, “When he was just a teenager, my great-grandfather immigrated here from the Philippines,” in a 2018 interview with the Center for Asian American Media. He is the father of my grandma, and my grandpa is also of Filipino descent. My dad was raised in a home where Filipino food was always prepared and his grandfather was fluent in Tagalog. Our generation has inherited all of those customs. Every Thanksgiving, we enjoy lumpia and similar foods.”

She stated, “I sometimes get DMs from little girls saying, ‘I’ve never seen someone who looked like me in your position,'” in a 2021 interview for V Magazine. And I’m going to cry, for real. similar to merely considering it. It seems like I never saw that growing up. It was also always like, ‘Popstar,’ that girl is white.”

3. Naomi Osaka

Multicultural Celebrities

The tennis player is of Japanese and Haitian ancestry. In 2020, she told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m just trying to put a platform out for all the Japanese people that look like me and live in Japan, and when they go to a restaurant, they get handed an English menu, even though it’s just a little microaggression.”

She also remembered a childhood game she had against a Japanese opponent. They were unaware that I was listening to her conversation with the other Japanese girl or that I could speak the language. When her companion inquired who she was playing, she replied that it was Osaka. And her buddy remarks, “Oh, that girl from Africa.” Is this person meant to be Japanese? The female I was playing then said, “I don’t think so.” I specifically recall that because, you know, there are moments when I feel like a lot of people have that opinion of me.”

4. Simone Kessell

The performer is of European and Māori ancestry. She talked to Glamour last year about how difficult it was for her to get gigs early in her career. Since I wasn’t Black or White, I was never a good fit for any character. I never got the roles because the character, if she had brown skin, was Hispanic, and I’m not. ‘Well, you’re having your moment now,’ has been said by everyone on numerous occasions.

I was here all the time. Simply put, parts with brown complexion weren’t written for them, and when they do, they’re very particular. In a cast where both the male and the female are eventually white, it’s typically done to check a diversity box. From there, it usually spreads to the friends of friends. Therefore, I perceive a transition, even though parts like Adult Lottie in Yellowjackets don’t happen very often.”

5. Charles Melton

Multicultural Celebrities

The actor is of English and Korean ancestry. He stated, “To be on both sides, being Caucasian and Asian, how inclusive or exclusive do you want to be when it comes to race, with being Asian? ” in a 2019 interview with Mixed Asian Media. It’s strange when someone says, “I’m Asian,” and tries to gauge how Asian you are. It’s rather severe. “Well, you’re not Asian, but you’re half,” My ethnicity is Asian. I think I’m more “Asian” than you are. In Korea, I was raised. Speaking Korean from an early age, I remember my mother using a rice spoon to spank me.

Then there are many who identify as Asian but are second or third generation Americans. When you’re only half or a quarter Asian, do they think of themselves as more “Asian” than you? When were you raised in Asia? How would one quantify that? You are Asian if you are. You will experience it if it flows through your blood.”

6. Vanessa Hudgens

The performer is descended from Native Americans, Chinese, Filipinos, Spanish, and French people. She stated, “My mom is from the Philippines, and growing up, there weren’t really that many women who looked like me and my mom and my family on screen,” in a 2021 interview with Glamour. Because America, like the rest of the world, is a vast melting pot, it is crucial to tell all the diverse stories. In order for us to be exposed to them and develop greater empathy for other people, there are a plethora of diverse stories that must be recounted.”

Vanessa discussed the difficulty in finding parts at a press conference held in Manila the previous year. “I was informed that I couldn’t be cast in the film because I wasn’t Black or Latina during my audition for a role I had long wanted to portray. I exclaim, “I’m ethnic!” In the event that’s what you’re seeking. However, it’s not easy. It is, in fact. In addition, I believe I’m still searching Hollywood for my place.”

7. Avan Jogia

The performer is of European and Indian ancestry. His book of poetry and interviews, Mixed Feelings, which examines mixed identities, was released in 2019. He stated, “I realized the collective mixed experience is so similar,” in a 2019 interview with 34th Street. What those mixed-nesses’ ethnic backgrounds are doesn’t matter. The commonalities of the experience bind us all together.”

“As a mixed person, I am unclassified in all the different groups,” he said to Brown Girl Magazine. Being brown and acting like a brown person, I am unquestionably a person of color; nonetheless, mixed people occupy distinct areas. There is no such thing as a negative or positive; you are simply a “other.”

8. Dinah Jane

The vocalist is Danish, Fijian, Samoan, and Tongan in origin. “It hurt me that [executives] couldn’t really tap in and understand that there is a market for Polynesian people,” she said to Teen Vogue last year. As a Polynesian woman in the mainstream, I feel like I’ve always been in this race, trying to figure it out on my own.

I’m no longer afraid to be myself. And I want everyone to know that I’m making a solid debut. I am this person. I’m a girl from Polynesia, and I don’t mind speaking my mind or hiding it.”

9. H.E.R.

The vocalist is Filipino and Black in ethnicity. She told the Philippine Star, “It’s a big part of who I am, and I come from the Bay Area, where there’s tons of Filipinos,” while she was in the country visiting family. Additionally, I observe that many people are unaware of Filipinos when I travel outside of the Bay Area. They are unaware of our identity. They enquire, “Do you eat with chopsticks?” and such things.”

She revealed in a 2018 interview with WWD that she firmly identifies with both sides. “When we brought our Black side around, my dad would go all out with the soul cuisine. I find Black culture to be really significant, and I relate to young Black women. I take pride in the fact that I speak for young Black women.”

10. Henry Golding

The performer is of Malaysian and English ancestry. “Just because I’m not full Asian by blood doesn’t mean I can’t own my Asianness,” he said in an interview with Bustle in 2018. And I have a lot more in common with my Asian heritage. Although it sounds absurdly British, my birthplace is Sarawak, Malaysia. You can’t get any more Asian than that—I’m from the tribe in the midst of the forest, for example. Due to my past experiences, I have spent more than half of my life in Asia and have been exposed to a wide variety of cultures. I was the only one who could relate to being Asian in an Asian culture.”

11. Jhené Aiko

The vocalist is descended from Native Americans, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Native Americans. “When I started going to auditions, they would put me for roles [as] the Spanish girl, or the Japanese girl, or the Black girl,” she stated in a 2019 interview with Revolt TV. My mother was instructed, “You should really play up one or the other,” when I was either 12 or 13. Her hair should be straightened to make her appear more Asian, or you could let it naturally curly and apply a little bronzer to make her appear more Black.”

12. Dwayne Johnson

The performer is Samoan and Black in ethnicity. The Rock responded to a criticism on Twitter, saying, “I’ll offer you guys some context & reality. Glad I came across this. I recognize myself for what I am, both of them. Just as proud. Samoan and Black.”

13. Shay Mitchell

The performer is Scottish, Irish, and Filipino by heritage. In 2021, she recollected her mother’s hardships in an interview with Women’s Health. “She and my dad’s relationship was despised in Toronto throughout the 1980s when they were dating. She would get the worst glances when riding the bus with my dad. They used to tell me stories about how they would walk into a restaurant and not be served. I seen it firsthand as well. People would make crude comments to my mother, such as, “Are you the cleaning lady?” Are you the caretaker? ‘No, but what is your issue if I was?’ she asked.I experienced bullying at school; I would get inquiries like, “Are you going to go clean the bathrooms?”

Shay now converses in these ways with her own daughters. “We’re studying how to have those suitable talks. The books we read to her, the dolls she plays with, and the toys she owns all have a variety of colors and ethnicities in them.

14. Darren Barnet

The performer is Swedish, German, Cherokee, and Japanese in origin. He stated in an interview with Teen Vogue for 2021, “I felt like I didn’t belong anyplace. I never really considered embracing my Japanese ancestry when I first started acting because I think I’m not Asian enough for it. Additionally, I had the impression that there would be controversy if I were cast as a clearly Asian character.”

His role as Paxton Hall-Yoshida on Never Have I Ever encouraged him to go further into his family history in line with the character’s footsteps. “When I was younger, I remember seeing my bachan, who used to smoke, crouching on our balcony. She did this, I would later learn, because during the war, everyone had to stoop down and turn off their lights if they were outside in order to avoid being seen by planes. I wish I could ask her so many questions about her life right now.”

15. Kimora Lee Simmons

The fashion designer is Black, Japanese, and Korean by heritage. “I was a mixed-race girl with an African-American father and a Korean-Japanese mother, and none of the other kids at my school were like me,” she said in an interview with Working Mother in 2009. By the time I was eleven years old, I was about six feet tall. Other kids seemed to make fun of everything about me, including my height, face, hair texture, and body type.

I’m teaching my own girls to be tolerant of others’ differences in culture, religion, and even appearance, just like my mother did for me. I also make an effort to establish limits, communicate expectations, and provide them with space to grow and change.”

16. Auli’i Cravalho

The actor is of Portuguese, Chinese, Irish, Native Hawaiian, and Puerto Rican ancestry. In a 2024 StyleCaster interview, she discussed how tough it was to get gigs after Moana. When casting saw my face, they would comment, ‘You’re racially ambiguous,’ since they didn’t know who I was. I say, ‘That’s a novel phrase. Since I’ve always identified as Hawaiian, I was even more perplexed inwardly when I heard that one for the first time.

‘Well, you’re white-passing, but you’re also racially ambiguous, so you can play Latinx, you can play Asian, you can play all of these various things,’ these statements were suddenly thrown at me. I said to myself, “I want to play smart women.” There is a bar.

17. Jordan Fisher

The performer is of Italian, Greek, Tahitian, English, Cambodian, Nigerian, and Scandinavian ancestry. He stated to Mixed Asian Media in 2022 that “Being mixed has affected every role I’ve had because it affects my day-to-day life.” We naturally want to classify everything, which makes it difficult. We just do it that way. That is not a cause for shame. The ability to take a look at anything and decide to categorize and store it in our minds is consoling, isn’t it? While I don’t take offense to that, I must admit that, up until the birth of my younger brother and sister, I was the only person of color at my school, the only mixed kid in my town, and the only dark kid in my family.”

18. Saweetie

The rapper is Black and Filipino by origin. “I definitely felt out of place at times because the cultures that I was raised around were completely night and day,” she said to HelloGiggles in 2018. However, I think that kind of internal conflict makes me a better person because it makes me realize that no two people are the same. For example, I may be sensitive to the customs of other people because my dad is Black and my mother is Filipino. because it’s possible that occasionally others won’t be able to convey or comprehend what I do. Even though I might not comprehend what someone else is doing, I can always recognize that people have diverse backgrounds and perspectives.”

19. Jemaine Clement

The performer is of European and Māori ancestry. He said to Stuff in 2015, “I’m not simply white; I’m part white. Furthermore, I don’t consider myself to be white because I wasn’t raised that way. When people refer to Taika [Waititi] and me as “white guys,” they have entirely different ideas about who we are and how we live. They are fantasizing a luxury that we were not granted.”

He started crying during a Te Ao episode with Moana as he thought back to the suffering his grandma had to go through. “My granny was not fluent in Māori. She belonged to the generation that if she [said it] in class, she would face consequences. Although it was her native tongue, they would be struck if they spoke Te Reo.

20. Joy Crookes

The vocalist is Irish and from Bangladesh. She stated on Facebook in 2018: “I’m a musician from South London who is Irish and Bangladeshi. The entertainment sector isn’t considered a “real” job by many in our culture, especially for women. As many of my fellow South Asians would attest—there aren’t many of us in it—so f**ck that. Proceed as you please. Despite these limitations, I honor MY culture in the Don’t Let Me Down music video and hope that other young Desi girls will take up their guitars, paintbrushes, and voices and go after what they feel is right.”

Joy stated to the BBC in 2021 that her cultural exploration predated her career as a musician. “It got underway considerably sooner. As I developed into this brown woman, I sensed a gap that needed to be addressed. Having being half Irish and partly Bangladeshi, both cultures are master storytellers. The Bengali language is very good in narrating stories, setting a mood, and occasionally exaggerating the plot. especially the way that aunts narrate stories.”

21. Nicole Scherzinger

The vocalist is descended from Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Ukrainians. She stated to Modern Luxury Hawai’i in 2019 that she was born in Honolulu, but she had only spent her early years there. We moved away when I was very small, yet I still connect those early memories to family. It used to make me laugh to remember how difficult it was to get all 17 of my brothers and sisters into a family portrait when we got together for one! I try to see my family as much as I can since they are all still in Hawaii. I feel a connection to the ‘aina and the spirit of Hawai’i because I was born there and am aware that I am mostly Hawaiian.”

In a 2017 Inquirer interview, she declared, “It’s Filipino pride! I really think that some of the best voices in the world are Filipino voices, so I’m incredibly thrilled to be able to represent my people in Hawaii and the Philippines. My grandmother, who is Hawaiian, is also the source of my voice.”

22. Zayn Malik

The vocalist is Irish and Pakistani in origin. He stated, “That was confusing for people, they didn’t really understand,” in a 2018 interview with Vogue. “Who is the person of color?” Which is it—your father or your mother? Other than discovering these facts, nobody was at fault for that. It is organic. There are now more persons of mixed races in the area.”

In response to the recurring characterization of him as “Britain’s most famous Muslim,” Zayn stated that he has never claimed to be a Muslim and does not identify as one. “My parents were always there to teach us; I studied Islam and attended mosques, but they also allowed us the freedom to make our own decisions. Every faith has its lovely aspects, no doubt.”

23. Darren Criss

The performer is of European and Filipino ancestry. He said to People in 2020, “My entire life, I’ve been half-Filipino. Still, nobody ever inquired about it. This concept of “white-passing” is difficult. I had never even heard of the term before the last two years. It causes you to reevaluate your balance when strangers have an influence on who you are. something you’ve struggled with all of your life. In America, this cocktail can be tricky. I’ve always been pleased to be Filipino and to be of Filipino descent. It doesn’t seem any less genuine to me just because some people can’t see it.”

24. Naomi Scott

The performer is of English and Indian ancestry. “There were moments growing up where you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t really feel Indian enough,'” she said to Teen Vogue in 2019. However, I’m now at a point where I’m thinking, “You know what? It’s alright. It doesn’t lessen my Indian or half-Indian identity. My two favorite dinners are roast dinner and my mother’s curry. And that’s pretty much who I am.

Someone once said something like, “She’s not Latina, she’s not Black, she’s not White—what is she?” Undoubtedly, I pursued a few leads where I believe that in the end, I was the “other,” the “exotic,” or the “other.”

25. Ross Butler

The performer is of Dutch, English, and Chinese ancestry. He stated, “I felt like I didn’t really know who I was growing up,” in a 2021 interview with Men’s Fashion Post. I was mixed-race, so I wasn’t sure who I was. I was constantly trying to modify who I was in an effort to figure out who I truly was because I didn’t fit in with my Asian friends or my white friends. However, since an actor is essentially given a persona and lines to say, I find it extremely intriguing to experience and learn about another person’s life. I adore how it’s an escape.”

26. Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi at an event, wearing a light suit with a bow tie and a small metallic pin on his lapel, smiling at the camera

The director is a Russian Jewish and Māori person. He stated to CBC Radio in 2019 that “We have historically always been viewed through a white lens.” In movies where we talk to trees, smudge constantly, ride whales, and converse with the ghosts of our ancestors—well, maybe for some of us, but not for me—we play the role of the Native presence. I’m simply your average guy. He underlined that Indigenous people should play a variety of roles, not only those that are exclusive to their culture or experience. “I prefer it when someone presents our experience in a style that seems typical. Audiences can relate to it better.”

27. Olivia Munn

The performer is of European and Chinese descent. She stated in a 2015 interview with Prestige Hong Kong, “I would attend a ton of auditions for everything. “You’re too Asian,” or “You’re too white,” would then be said to me. “Don’t feel bad,” someone once told me. They will stop attempting to pair you up with people one day. They’ll just hire you for yourself. So it’s inevitable that you’ll become frustrated. It’s all a part of that.

She stated to HuffPost in 2019 that her mother “always taught me that I mattered.” I mattered, regardless of what others believed. My mother has always given me this strength. But all Asians have this trait in that we have a strong sense of self that no one else can take away from us.”

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Aria Skylark


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