The Racial Diversity of Latino Celebrities

Hispanics may be the largest minority group in the United States, but questions about Latino identity abound. Members of the public remain especially confused about what Latinos look like or which racial groups they belong to. In fact, the U.S. government does not consider Latinos to be a racial group. Just as a diverse group of people makes up the United States, a diverse group of people makes up Latin America. Yet, a number of Americans don’t realize this, believing that all Hispanics have dark hair and eyes and tan or olive skin.

In reality, not all Hispanics are mestizo, a mix of European and indigenous American. A number of entertainers and athletes demonstrate this fact. Celebrities from Salma Hayek to Alexis Bledel reveal the amount of diversity that exists in Hispanic America.

Zoe Saldana

Actress Zoe Saldana
Ernest Aguayo/

Zoe Saldana is arguably the most famous Afro-Latina actress in the nation. The star of blockbuster films such as “Avatar” and “Star Trek,” Saldana challenges the stereotype that all Hispanics are olive skinned. Born to a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican father, Zoe Saldana has often played African American characters. In films such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Colombiana,” however, Zoe Saldana has played Latinas. By doing so, she’s broadened the public’s perceptions of what a Latina is supposed to look like. Zoe Saldana is one of many faces of Hispanic America

George Lopez

Actor George Lopez
New Mexico Independent/

Mexican-American comedian George Lopez has often made his cultural background the focal point of his standup routines. George Lopez not only makes fun of the Chicanos in his life but celebrates his heritage. While hosting his late night talk show “Lopez Tonight,” the comedian took a DNA test and shared the results with the public.  Lopez discovered that he was 55 percent European, 32 percent Native American, 9 percent East Asian and 4 percent sub-Saharan African. Given that George Lopez has heritage from a wide swath of ethnic groups, he embodies the idea that Latinos are a "cosmic race" made up of people from the world's major racial groups.

Alexis Bledel

Actress Alexis Bledel
Gordon Correll/

“Gilmore Girls” star Alexis Bledel had red hair as a baby. Though her mane eventually darkened to brown, her bright blue eyes and pale skin are not what typically comes to mind when one hears the word “Latina.” Yet, Alexis Bledel was born to an Argentinean father and a white American mother raised in Mexico. Bledel has posed on the cover of Latina magazine and commented that she learned Spanish before learning English.

“Most people think I’m Irish,” Alexis Bledel told Latina. The Houston native went on to say that her parents raised her in the cultural context familiar to them.

Salma Hayek

Actress Salma Hayek
Gage Skidmore/

A Mexican film and television star when she entered the Hollywood scene in the early 1990s, Salma Hayek is one of the most recognized actresses in the world. She starred as Mexican icon Frida Kahlo in “Frida” and in a number of films, such as “Fools Rush In,” in which her ethnicity was a focal point. Despite such roles, Salma Hayek is not a mixture of Spanish and Indian, as many Mexicans are. Instead, she’s of Spanish and Lebanese descent. In fact, Salma Hayek's first name is of Arabic origin.

Manny Ramirez

Baseball player Manny Ramirez
Minda Haas/

With his long dreadlocks and caramel colored skin, outfielder Manny Ramirez stands out on the baseball field. Born in the Dominican Republic, a country where residents typically have a mix of Spanish, African and indigenous heritage, Manny Ramirez exemplifies how Hispanics can be a mix of many different racial groups—black as well as European and Indian. As a teen, Manny Ramirez moved from the Dominican Republic to New York City.