27+ Celebs Who Were Wildly Assumed To Be White but Aren't

By Doron may

Jackie Kennedy Onassis
During her lifetime, Jackie Kennedy Onassis became a style icon, particularly when she stood beside President John F. Kennedy. She stole the nation’s hearts as the charming First Lady thanks to her love of fashion and art.


Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ ancestors were of African-American descent, with one of her relatives becoming the first formally trained black doctor. Her father, Jack Bouvier, was known as ‘Black Jack’ due to his flamboyant lifestyle and dark complexion inherited from his family line.

Darnell Martin

Writer and director Darnell Martin became the first African-American woman to direct a movie right out of a major Hollywood studio. She directed the 1994 comedy-drama ‘I Like It Like That,’ but at that time, not many people knew about Martin’s ancestry.


Darnell Martin was born in New York’s Bronx district to a white Italian mother and a black father who worked as an attorney. In 1992 Martin wrote a short film titled ‘Suspect,’ which detailed how young black people are judged by certain people before they do anything.

Joseph Bologne

Although he might have had a light complexion, the French Revolution-era composer and musician, Joseph Bologne, was of mixed race. His father was George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter in the French colony of Guadeloupe, while his mother was the African slave of George’s wife.


Joseph was brought to mainland France by his father to be educated, and he excelled in pretty much everything he did. Boulogne was known as ‘Black Mozart,’ and while he could lead a symphony, Joseph was also a champion fencer.

King Tutankhamen

King Tutankhamun of ancient Egypt is arguably the most famous pharaoh of all time. When he was around the age of nine, Tutankhamun ascended to the throne, when he then married his half-sister Ankhesenamun. Tutankhamun was known to be fair-skinned, but artifacts found in his tomb had subsequently proven otherwise.


The boy king was actually black African. There was a rumored curse surrounding the tomb and mummified body of Tutankhamun after his burial chamber was officially opened in 1923.

Jennifer Beals

Actor Jennifer Beals became one of the biggest names in Hollywood thanks to her critically acclaimed portrayal of Alex in the 1983 drama ‘Flashdance.’ Before acting, Beals was a teenage model, and more recently, she starred as Bette Porter in the drama series ‘The L Word.’


Beals was born in Chicago in the 1960s to an African-American father and an Irish-American mother. The actor said that her biracial heritage often left her feeling like an outsider and part of neither community that her parents were from.

KJ Apa

KJ Apa has been relatively unknown before he took on the role of Archie Andrews in 2017 in the teen drama Riverdale. The New Zealand-born actor is also an aspiring musician and his debut album Clocks was released in 2021. He's been in a longterm relationship with Clara Berry since 2019 and the two share a child.


Apa may look white, but he is actually of Samoan decent. His father is a matai (chief) of his village in Samoa, and Apa says he grew up in the culture since he was a kid. He is also of Scottish, English, and Irish heritage.

Clark Gable

Clark Gable is known as ‘The King of Hollywood’ after he appeared in one of the biggest movies of all time, ‘Gone with the Wind.’ Gable is of Native American descent, and it’s something the actor never tried to hide.


Although his heritage wasn’t common knowledge, Gable said he would never dismiss someone due to their race. For that reason, he was outraged when he saw segregated bathrooms on the set of ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and he refused to work until everyone was treated the same.

Wentworth Miller

Wentworth Miller was the star of the much-loved drama series ‘Prison Break.’ He played Michael Scofield, an expert structural engineer who gets imprisoned only so he can then break his brother out.


In one of Miller’s earlier acting roles, he portrays Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Human Stain,’ who tried to pass himself off as a black man. Miller actually has a black father and a white mother, so the role might not have been that hard for the actor to relate to.

Chloe Bennet

Chloe Bennet's most famous role to date is that of Daisy Johnson / Quake in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Still, the most interesting thing about her is her race - which is definitely not strictly white. Bennet was actually born Chloe Wang, and is Chinese and white.


After being criticized about changing her last name to Bennet, Chloe said "Hollywood is racist" and wouldn't cast her "with a last name that made them uncomfortable". According to her, she speaks Mandarin, lived in China, and if half Chinese.

Kris Humphries

Although he could have carried on for a while longer, former NBA star Kris Humphries retired from the sport in his early 30s. The player was fortunate enough to play for some of the NBA’s biggest franchises, including the Boston Celtics. Although he is known for playing basketball, Humphries is also known for his short-lived relationship with Kim Kardashian.


Humphries is half African-American from his father’s side. It seems as though Humphries inherited his sporty genes from his dad, who played football in college for the University of Minnesota.

Anatole Broyard

During his career, there weren’t many people who truly knew the real heritage of famous writer Anatole Broyard. The well-known New York Times book reviewer was born in New Orleans to black parents, although Broyard had fairly light skin.


He moved to Greenwich Village to become a writer but hid his ethnicity because he didn’t want to be known as a ‘black writer.’ Broyard’s ancestry remained a secret until his daughter wrote a book of her own about her father’s hidden life.

Esther Jones, AKA Betty Boop

Betty Boop might be one of the most famous cartoon characters from years gone by, but the real-life inspiration behind her character was a black woman. Esther Jones served as Betty Boop’s inspiration after she became famous for singing at the Cotton Club.


The singer was known by her stage name ‘Baby Esther’ had an African heritage and would sing her songs in the voice of an infant. Although Betty Boop was inspired by her, Jones was never able to win a lawsuit to own the rights to the character.

Maya Rudolph

Maya Rudolph is a comedian and actress that plenty of us recognize from her stint on SNL, as well as her various movie roles. She’s a super funny woman with a unique acting style, but many people aren’t aware of her racial identity. This ambiguity is coupled with the fact that she has played a number of characters of different races. In actuality, Maya is racially mixed.


Her mother was Minnie Ripperton, a legendary black musician who died young. Her father, Richard Rudolph, is a white music producer.

Pete Wentz

Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz can link his heritage back to Afro-Jamaican roots on his mother’s side. The talented musician’s great-grandparents were Jamaican immigrants, with his grandfather also being the ambassador to Sierra Leone.


Besides his musical talents, Wentz has been using his level of fame to try and make a difference in people’s lives. One of Wentz’s philanthropic adventures is Invisible Children Inc., which is an organization that aims to help refugees and their causes in Uganda.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton’s face is one that is familiar to pretty much anybody in the United States who has ever handled a $10 bill. As one of the founding fathers of the United States, Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, earning himself a place in the history books and on $10 bills.


Hamilton was actually mixed race, but his skin was light enough that he was able to pass as white. His brother’s skin was much darker, which meant he was treated as black.

Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is someone who has usually been behind the scenes working on movies rather than in front of the camera. This changed with his most recent movie, Jojo Rabbit, where he also played a character. Since then, he has directed the award-winning Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian.


He is from New Zealand, and many people assumed that he was white, but he is actually of Maori descent, meaning that he is indigenous to New Zealand. In addition to his Maori blood, he also has some Irish and Russian Jewish heritage.

Michael Fosberg

Although he grew up thinking he was white, Michael Fosberg had an African-American father. The actor would portray white characters in the early stages of his career, and he grew up as one of two white kids on his school’s basketball team.


It wasn’t until he was in his 30s that Fosberg’s mom explained his father’s ethnicity to him. The actor was later given the opportunity to meet his biological father, and Fosberg explained that it was “extremely comforting” to know where he came from.

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones is a beloved actress, known for her roles in popular TV shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, but she's also one of Hollywood's biggest nepo babies - being the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton. Apparently, not many people know she's as mixed as they come.


Jones is of Black and Jewish heritage. In a viral interview from in 2015, Jones's interviewer said she looks really 'tan' and that it suits her. Rashida then confusedly said, "I'm ethnic". The interviewer clearly didn't understand how to handle this situation, proving some people truly believe Jones is white.

Derek Jeter

Many people made the assumption that former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was white. Nobody appeared to think otherwise throughout his career, especially with the baseball star often identifying as coming from white heritage.


The now-Miami Marlins CEO and part owner’s mother is white, while his father is Africa-American. Jeter’s parents actually met while serving in the United States Army when they were both stationed in Germany. Eventually, they returned home, and Jeter was able to embark on an amazing baseball career.

Rosario Dawson

Actress Rosario Dawson made a name for herself in Hollywood thanks to roles in hits like ‘Men in Black II,’ ‘Sin City,’ and ‘Rent.’ She later went on to star in the hugely popular Marvel TV shows ‘The Defenders,’ ‘Daredevil,’ and ‘Luke Cage.’


Not only is Dawson a talented actor, but the star is also known for producing, singing, political activism, and comic book writing. Her mother is of Afro-Caribbean and Puerto Rican heritage, which might explain why Dawson is often cast in Latino or African-American roles.


Slash became one of the most famous guitarists in the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s thanks to being in the rock band Guns N’ Roses. He is considered to be one of the greatest guitarists in the history of music, but he’s also known for his unique style.


Slash has a lot of hair that sticks out from underneath his trademark top hat. There aren’t a ton of African-American heavy metal stars, but Slash is among them thanks to his mother’s black heritage.

Jessica Szohr

‘Gossip Girl’ star Jessica Szohr is pretty much the definition of what it is to be multicultural. Her father is of European and African-American descent, while her mom has roots steeped in Hungary, Ireland, England, and Germany.


Szohr made her breakthrough in Hollywood thanks to roles in TV shows like, ‘CSI: Miami,’ ‘Joan of Arcadia,’ and ‘My Wife and Kids.’ She would establish herself as a star, though, when she landed the role of Vanessa Abrams in the teen drama series ‘Gossip Girl’ in 2007.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

For over two decades, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has been entertaining his millions, and millions, of fans. The star began life as a pro football player before moving into the world of professional wrestling, where his natural charisma shone brightly.


He made the transition to acting and has gone on to become the highest-grossing box office star in Hollywood. Many people didn’t know that Johnson’s mother is of Samoan descent, while his father is a Black Nova Scotian.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Mark-Paul Gosselaar was busy breaking hearts during the 1980s and ‘90s when he portrayed Zac Morris in the teen comedy ‘Saved by the Bell.’ His blonde locks may have won over millions of fans around the world, but did you know that he actually dyed his hair to complete the look?


The famed actor is actually part Indonesian on his mother’s side. She hails from Bali, and Gosselaar has recently spoken out about his pride in his mother’s ancestry.

Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne shot to fame through her role as CeCe Jones on the Disney Channel sitcom ‘Shake It Up’ from 2010 to 2013. Since then, she has forged a career as a model, as well as starring in over 30 movies in her short career.


Not everybody knows that Thorne is Italian on her mother’s side and Cuban on her father’s. Thorne explained to Glamour magazine that she grew up speaking Spanish and that it was her first language.

Darren Criss

Darren Criss became a household name after starring in the musical drama series ‘Glee.’ That show was the platform that helped launch Criss’ career, and later in life, he would win a Golden Globe for his role in the crime series ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace.’


In winning the Golden Globe Criss became the first Filipino-American to be given the honor. Criss’ mother was born in the Philippines, while his father is of German, Irish, and English descent.

Aubrey Plaza

Most people know Aubrey Plaza from her time on the hit sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation.’ The actor once told Cosmopolitan that people make assumptions about her ethnicity based on her fair skin. Plaza explained to the magazine that people don’t assume she’s Puerto Rican.


The actress’s father is from Puerto Rico, while her mother is of European-American descent. Since starring in ‘Parks and Recreation,’ Plaza has gone on to appear in the hit Fx comic book series ‘Legion.’

Vanessa Hudgens

Although Vanessa Hudgens made her acting debut in the movie ‘Thirteen,’ she broke out in the hit Disney film series ‘High School Musical.’ Hudgens portrayed Gabriella Montez alongside Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale. The actress and singer is another of Hollywood’s stars to come from a mixed background.


Her father is of Native American and Irish descent, while Hudgens’ mom calls the Philippines her native home. After becoming a star on our screens, Hudgens moved to Broadway, where she had broken out in ‘Grease: Live’ and ‘Rent: Live.’

Olivia Munn

When Olivia Munn began her career in the media, she started as a TV journalist before moving into the acting world. Munn went from bringing the news to viewers at home to helping bring millions of people to the box office in hits like ‘X-Men: Apocalypse.’


Some people do not know that Munn is actually part Vietnamese after her mother was brought up in the Asian country. Munn’s father, on the other hand, is of Irish, German, and English heritage.

Hailee Steinfeld

Although she had already featured in several short films, when Hailee Steinfeld was cast in the 2010 Western ‘True Grit,’ she became a superstar. Steinfeld was 13 years old when she was cast in ‘True Grit,’ and her performance earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


Since then, she has appeared in hit movies like ‘Ender’s Game’ and ‘Begin Again’ before standing out in the ‘Pitch Perfect’ movie series. Steinfeld’s father is of Russian and Romanian descent, while her mother’s ancestors have roots in the Philippines and Africa.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle’s life might appear like a fairy tale after she married Prince Harry. She is the Duchess of Sussex, but before marrying into royalty, Markle was best known as Rachel Zane in the hit legal TV series ‘Suits.’


Markle decided to enlighten everyone about her heritage in 2015 when she explained that her father is caucasian, and her mother is African-American. Since finding true love with Prince Harry, Markle hit the headlines, but she and her husband have since taken a step back from public life.

Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen was a much-loved Saturday Night Live sketch artist for over a decade before leaving the hit show in 2013. The actor, comedian, and writer explained that his mother’s ethnicity helped him out whenever he was required to portray a character with a Spanish accent.


Armisen explained that his mother is from Venezuela, and she always spoke to him with a Spanish accent. Being around his mom and her side of the family helped Armisen’s tongue understand the nuances of speaking English as a native Spanish speaker.

Troian Bellisario

Actress Troian Bellisario might have played a white Anglo-Saxon character on the teen mystery series ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ but that’s not strictly her ethnicity. The actor is actually from a mixed background, with her mother being of African-American and French descent.


Her dad is Italian and Serbian, and together her parents were hugely successful producers for shows like ‘NCIS’ and ‘Magnum P.I.’ With so many cultural influences from all around her, it seems as though Bellisario has plenty of experience to draw upon in her acting career.


Pop sensation Halsey has enjoyed an amazing five years, which has seen her rise to the top of the charts. The singer seems to be on the rise still, and there’s no telling how far she’s going to go. Although she might have a light complexion, Halsey, whose real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, is actually of mixed descent.


Her father is African-American, with some Irish ancestry thrown in, while her mom can trace her roots back to Hungary, Ireland, and Italy.

Vin Diesel

Thanks to his involvement in both the ‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ franchises, Vin Diesel is one of the biggest names in Hollywood. He plays none other than Dominic Toretto in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, while he is the legendary voice of Groot in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’


Born Mark Sinclair, Diesel has described himself as someone of “ambiguous ethnicity.” The star’s mother is of Scottish and German descent, and despite never meeting his father, Diesel's dad reportedly identifies as a person of color.

Angelina Jolie

For about two decades, Angelina Jolie was one of the most famous faces in the world. She’s still undeniably an A-list star today, although we might see less of her than we used to. The star is the daughter of legendary actor Jon Voight, who is of German and Slovak descent.


Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, also has a rich history, with some of her ancestors being German, Dutch, and French Canadian. Bertrand also has links to the Iroquis, who were a powerful Native American confederacy.

Amber Rose

If you love following celebrities, then the name Amber Rose probably won’t have escaped your attention. The star was in a high-profile relationship with Kanye West before he married Kim, and she was also briefly married to rapper Whiz Khalifa.


Rose is now one of the most influential people on social media. When you delve into her background, you realize that she is from a fascinating mixture of cultures. Her mother is Scottish and Cape Verdean, while her father is of Italian and Irish descent.


While some celebrities choose to keep their ethnicity and background as private as possible, others are more than happy to share their history. One person who isn’t shy in coming forward with their ethnicity is the rapper Logic, who used his mixed-race background as inspiration for lyrics.


Logic’s mother is caucasian while his father is of African-American descent. The rapper found himself growing up in both communities and even discovered that rapping about his experiences helped to rekindle his relationship with his dad.

Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke was part of one of the biggest TV shows of all time thanks to her role in ‘Game of Thrones.’ Appearing on the fantasy series helped Clarke to become a household name, but it wasn’t until 2018 that the star revealed some information about her heritage.


Clarke’s maternal grandmother was actually the child of a secret love affair, with her father being of Indian origins. The actress explained that her grandmother used to hide the color of her skin using makeup to try and blend into the background.

George Bridgetower

We may think of classical musicians from the past to largely be of white descent, given that many of them hailed from Europe. George Bridgetower was born in Poland in 1778, and then he moved to the United Kingdom, where he became known as a virtuoso violinist.


By the age of 10, Bridgetower had already made a name for himself on the streets of London. Bridgetower mixed with the wealthy elite, but both of his parents were servants, with his father being of West Indian heritage.

Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas may be one of the most famous French authors of all time thanks to his classic novels ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ and ‘The Three Musketeers.’ His works have been translated into almost 100 different languages, with many of them originally being published as serials.


Dumas was born to a white father who just so happened to be a rival to Napoleon Bonaparte and a general. The author’s mother, however, was of Afro-Caribbean ancestry, but unlike Dumas’ father, she lived much of her life as a slave.

Rebecca Hall

Actress Rebecca Hall has a pretty varied resume thanks to roles in films such as ‘Iron Man 3,’ ‘The Prestige,’ and ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona.’ The British actress has mixed up Hollywood movies with small-time TV shows in what is one of the most diverse acting careers around.


It’s not just in the roles that she takes where Hall is diverse. Her mother is Maria Ewing, an African-American opera singer who also has Dutch and Scottish roots. Hall’s father is Peter Hall, the man responsible for founding The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Malcolm Gladwell

Anyone who is a fan of reading The New Yorker will most likely have enjoyed some of Malcolm Gladwell’s work in the past. The writer has been working with the famous publication since 1996, and he has gone on to focus his writings in sociology and psychology.


Gladwell’s father is a British mathematics professor from England, while his mother is a Jamaican psychotherapist. After digging into his heritage, Gladwell discovered that he is related to a Jamaican free woman of color many moons ago.

Mariah Carey

Thanks to her success in the 1990s, Mariah Carey rose to become one of the biggest names in R and B music. She is still hugely relevant to the music industry and her millions of fans, but many people had been unsure of Carey’s ethnicity for years.


Carey was born in New York to a father of African-American descent, and a caucasian mother with Irish roots. The singer’s hits include ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ ‘Hero,’ and ‘We Belong Together.’

Cash Warren

Cash Warren isn’t a name that will immediately be recognizable to many of you. But those of us who follow the tabloids will definitely know him as Jessica Alba’s husband! They’ve been married for over a decade and have children together. He works a bit behind the scenes in Hollywood, serving as an assistant or a producer on many different productions.


He may look white, but he is not. He’s actually the son of Michael Warren, an African-American retired actor known mainly for his work on Hill Street Blues.

Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien is one person in the public eye whose racial identity wasn’t really known for a long time. She’s been an anchor or a correspondent on several CNN programs, Al Jazeera America and HBO, yet her race was an aspect of her identity that was never explicitly discussed. Many people guessed about her heritage while others just assumed that she was white.


The journalist then appeared on a CNN program called “Black in America” that made many people realize that she wasn’t white at all!

Carol Channing

Attitudes about race have changed a lot throughout the world in the past few decades. While the levels of equality offered in various industries are still evolving, Carol Channing had to obscure her identity when she first made her appearance in the Broadway circuit back in the 40s.


She is mixed, but she presented herself as a white actress in order to dodge all the trials and tribulations that came with being racially mixed. It wasn’t until 2002 (many decades into her career!) that she felt comfortable enough to tell the world that she is half black.

Gabrielle Reece

The tendency of people to assume that famous, racially ambiguous individuals are white is a phenomenon that is not only present in the entertainment world. Gabrielle Reece is a versatile individual that has dabbled in both acting and modelling, but her main focus has always been sports. As a professional volleyball player, most people thought that she was white.


She later shared details about her childhood, saying that she had a black father who died when she was very young. This means that she is actually half black, although many of us would have never guessed.

Daniel Sunjata

Daniel Sunjata is another actor whose racial identity is visually hard to pin down. You may recognize him as being one of the leading actors in the FX show Rescue Me, a comedy/drama that ran from 2004 to 2011. He played a character named Franco Rivera.


Despite often playing Latino characters like Franco, Daniel is actually half black and half white. This results in him looking like he could be of Latin descent, but this is totally not true at all.

Naomi Scott

While Naomi Scott is an actress with an identity that many people weren’t sure about, we imagine that this largely changed after she starred as Princess Jasmine in the recent live-action adaptation of Aladdin. Interestingly enough, she wasn’t typically recognized as being an Indian woman before this.


This is because she is half English as well, giving her a slightly lighter skin tone and a more white-presenting appearance. She has since spoken about struggling with feelings of racial insecurity and worrying about whether she was “Indian enough.” She has since come to terms with these worries.

Kimiko Glenn

Kimiko Glenn is a very versatile performer, and this is what helped her land her most well-known role of Brook in Orange is the New Black. While her acting career really only began in 2012, she has had a pretty full schedule with various TV and movie spots. Her character in Orange is the New Black is an Asian-American woman, but many people still thought of her as white.


This is because Kimiko racial identity is one that is a mix of a lot of other ethnicities: Scottish, Irish, German, and Japanese.

Hannah Simone

We all know Hannah Simone as the hilarious Cece from New Girl, but there is more to her than meets the eye. Her racial makeup is a combination of a number of different identities, including Italian, German, Greek, and Indian. When she describes herself, she says that she is South Asian


Hannah has spoken about an under-representation of Asian people in media, so it has been important for her to take on roles that she feels are not stereotypes and that holistically represent her as a person and a full human being.

Sir Ben Kingsley

Sir Ben Kingsley has had a number of hurdles throughout his career, with one of them being his ethnicity. A name like Ben Kingsley might convince you that he is purely European, but that is by design. He was actually born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji to a family that was a mixture of English and Indian.


He changed his name to be more marketable as an actor and to land more roles, a move which he says worked very well. He has since spoken about the irony of changing his name in order to play Ghandi.

Jason Momoa

Khal Drogo is, in fact, not a white man. And no, we aren’t here to tell you that he’s Dothraki. While Momoa does have some European heritage, he mainly considers himself to be of native Hawaiin descent. He has said that he enjoys getting to represent brown-skinned and Polynesian peoples in movies and TV, something which he does quite well!


The actor has starred in Justice League, Aquaman, Conan the Barbarian, and more. His newest movies are Dune and Sweet Girl, two movies that are set to come out soon.

Chrissy Teigen

Ah, Chrissy Teigen, can you do no wrong? As one of Twitter’s most beloved figures, Chrissy constantly has eyes on her. It also helps that she is the wife of John Legend! Despite this, many people don’t know what Chrissy’s racial identity truly is, and this is because she was initially ashamed of her identity as a Thai woman.


She has talked about how it was hard to grow up feeling different from the other kids that she was friends with. Teigen is proud of her Thai heritage now, even sharing Thai recipes (yum).

Originally Published: https://oldermillennials.com/koen/27-celebs-who-were-wildly-assumed-to-be-white-but-arent