As Salma Hayek blows out 54 birthday candles, we’re taking today to revisit her roots. The Mexico-born actress has often spoken about her struggles as a Latina in Hollywood, so there is something about her that you might be surprised to read: she’s part Arab. And as it turns out, there’s a whole host of well-known figures who are, too — many of whom will come as a surprise.
Today’s birthday girl is famously known as a Mexican-American actress, with her mother being a Mexican of Spanish descent. Interestingly, her father has Lebanese origins and hails from the city of Baabdat. He even traveled back to his hometown with Hayek to promote her movie, The Prophet.
Fans of Jane the Virgin know Jaime Camil as Rogelio de la Vega, a hilariously melodramatic telenovela star from Mexico. In reality, though, the actor is part Arab – his mother is a Brazilian singer, while his father is a businessman of Egyptian and Mexican descent.
This is the one that caught us completely by surprise. American comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a bona fide New Yorker, has Syrian roots on his maternal side. His mother Betty Hosni was of Mizrahi descent, with her parents hailing from Aleppo.
Another Latina stunner, Zoe Saldaña has an Afro-Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother, but reportedly said she has Lebanese roots during an interview with MBC. Perhaps that explains her choice of tattoo?
You know him from goofball flicks like Fred Claus and Wedding Crashers, but did you know Vince Vaughn would end up on this list? His paternal grandmother was of Lebanese descent, while his maternal grandfather was of Italian descent – but he also has Irish, English, and Germany ancestry.
Ariana Grande’s origins have made headlines in recent years, especially as they came as a surprise – even to her. Back in 2014, the popstar tweeted: “Just found out my grandparents are heavily Greek and part North African… I thought I was Italian… Who am I? My whole life is a lie.” Turns out she took a genetic test, which revealed that she has Moroccan, Tunisian, or Algerian roots on one side.
Considering her last name, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see Paula Abdul on this list, right? The singer-dancer-choreographer’s father hails from Aleppo, Syria, but was raised in Brazil before migrating to the US. Her mother, meanwhile, is Canadian with Ukrainian roots.
Between those gorgeous curls and adorable freckles, Alia Shawkat is a mixed-race beauty like one else in Hollywood. The actress – best known for her role in Arrested Development – has an Iraqi father, while her mother is of Irish, Italian, and Norwegian descent.
Those fluent in Arabic will know that Shakira’s name is the feminine version of the name ‘Shakir’, which translates to someone who is grateful – making the popstar an obvious inclusion on this list. Her paternal grandparents left Lebanon for New York City, where her father was born. He then moved to Colombia, where Shakira was born and raised. Her mother’s side, meanwhile, is part-Spanish and part-Italian.
It’s hardly a shocker that actress-dancer Jenna Dewan is of mixed heritage – the woman is downright gorgeous. Her mother is of English and German descent, while her father is part-Polish and part-Lebanese.
Teri Hatcher of Desperate Housewives fame was born in California, but boasts quite the medley of origins. Her mother is of Syrian, Czech, and Irish ancestry, while her father is of English, Irish, and Welsh descent.
Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr. – or Mika as he is widely known – is an English singer, but there’s essentially nothing English about his roots. He was born in Beirut to an American-born Lebanese mother and an Israeli-born American father, and speaks a little Arabic to this day.