They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t judge a person by their skin color either; looks can be deceiving, after all. Sometimes, it is impossible to tell a person’s race by his or her skin color, or a person’s skin color violates our assumptions.
You might assume that all Latinos have bronzed complexions. However, this is a far cry from reality. Latinos come in all shades and sizes, and from many more places across the globe than just Mexico. They are as diverse as all of the different countries and continents that they come from. In fact, not all Latinos even speak Spanish. Brazil, one of the largest Latino countries and South America’s largest country, for instance, speaks Portuguese.
Here are some well-known names that hide their Hispanic heritage well or at least could easily pass as a member of another race. Either way, you might want to give these stars a second glance.
10. Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza is a fair-skinned Latina who is actually half Puerto Rican. Even though people don’t often believe the Parks and Recreation star’s cultural background, she says that she feels very connected and proud of her heritage now, but growing up, it wasn’t as easy. She was often winning diversity awards, and she often felt she wasn’t deserving since she was only half Latina and light-skinned.
Although she doesn’t necessarily look the part of the token Latina, she is happy to be a small part of increasing diversity in Hollywood and has appeared on the front cover of Latina magazine.
9. David Gallagher
The Camdens are just one of many white families who have graced television screens, but the Seventh Heaven family actually had a Latino member. Don’t be deceived by his blue eyes and blonde locks; David Gallagher is actually half Cuban.
Gallagher played the role of Simon Camden on the hit television series. His mother is of Cuban ancestry. Despite his Latino status, Gallagher has never played one on television.
8. David Blaine
You can’t believe everything you see – especially when it concerns magic. David Blaine, the daredevil magician, is actually Latino: he is half Puerto Rican from his father’s side. His mother is Russian-Jewish, giving him some interesting cards in his cultural hand.
Blaine is known for doing seemingly life-endangering magic tricks. He has drowned himself alive, frozen himself into a huge block of ice in Times Square in New York for 61 hours and performed levitation for the camera. For his work, he has his name listed next to a number of world records.
7. Tatyana Ali
Ali, who identifies as Afro-Caribbean and black, has a mother who comes from Panama and a father from Trinidad. She says that it is hard for her to convince others that you can “be more than one thing” when it comes to culture and race.
6. Harry Shum, Jr.
You would probably never guess by looking at him, but Glee star Harry Shum, Jr. speaks Spanish as his first language. He was born in Costa Rica and raised in San Francisco. His parents are of Chinese descent – his mom from Hong Kong and his dad from mainland China.
Shum is about as multicultural as it gets. He speaks Cantonese, Spanish, Mandarin and English, and he considers his mixed cultural identity to be an asset, both on the set and in life. One of his most recent roles in Revenge of the Green Dragons actually required him to speak Chinese. Now that his secret Latino identity is out, maybe he will land some Spanish-speaking roles as well.
5. Sara Paxton
Sara Paxton is a blue-eyed, blonde haired girl with Mexican heritage. When she journeyed to Mexico in 2012, she was excited to connect with her heritage and the homeland of her mom’s family. She spent her 24th birthday with her mother’s family, a first for the young actress.
Her movie, I Brake For Gringos, which was filmed in Puerta Vallerta, gave her an opportunity to embrace her Mexican ancestry, even if she doesn’t look much like a stereotypical Mexican. They may call her a gringa (Spanish slang for “white girl”), but she knows that her family’s legacy south of the border is a large part of who she is.
4. Louis C.K.
Louis C.K.’s American experience was the opposite of what you might expect by looking at him. Although he was born in Washington D.C., he lived in Mexico, his father’s home country, until he was seven. His grandmother didn’t speak any English, and his father’s family is all English-speaking.
Although the comedian feels like he more or less immigrated to the United States, his skin tone, which he claims makes him “an accidental white person,” means that he doesn’t get treated as an immigrant. His comedic style and background have given him a platform to talk about race and immigration in the United States.
3. Bella Thorne
Bella Thorne has a fair complexion that looks nothing like a Latina’s. So when the Disney Channel star of Shake It Up tells people that her father is of Cuban descent, the majority of people think she is messing with them.
Her ancestry doesn’t lie though. Her father was one of six to be born in the United States, making Bella a second-generation American citizen. The other half of her ancestry is Italian and Irish though, it seems like her Irish roots show the most in her looks. Regardless of what she looks like to the outside world, Thorne is proud to be part Cuban.
2. Bruno Mars
Mars moved to Los Angeles when he was 17, and his biggest obstacle was finding a way to perform the music he wanted to play instead of the music that people assumed he should. Bruno is actually his childhood nickname, and he just liked the cultural neutrality of Mars. His parents are actually a Filipino dancer and Puerto Rican percussionist. He was raised in Hawaii, where he started doing Elvis impersonations at age four.
1. Alexis Bledel
Alexis Bledel is best known for starring in Gilmore Girls as Rory Gilmore. Even though people often assume that she is Irish or at least of European descent, she was actually raised in a home in Texas where Spanish was the first language.
Her parents are Argentinian (though her mom was raised in Mexico). She actually didn’t learn English until she entered elementary school, though nobody would have guessed watching her on television, where she seemed as typically American as you can get. She even had to pretend that she didn’t speak Spanish on one episode. You may think she has the luck of the Irish, but she is most certainly Latina.