Chi-Town: 15 Latino Celebrities From Chicago

Halfway between Los Angeles, California and New York City, lies the lively midwest city of Chicago, Illinois.

Chi-Town is home to some of the world's greatest pizza (sorry, Jon Stewart), the country's friendliest people, and the midwest's greatest comedy, theatre, music, and more. It's no surprise, then, that countless Latino stars got their start in the Windy City.

From Michael Peña to Aimee Garcia, these 14 celebs call Chicago their home: 

1. Michael Peña

Cesar Chavez star Michael Peña was raised by Mexican immigrants on Chicago’s South Side in the North Lawndale neighborhood across from Douglas Park. Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, he worked at Harris Bank in the Chicago Board of Trade.

2. Raquel Welch

Actress Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago, Illinois. She later moved to California when her parents divorced, but her roots will always be in the Windy City.

3. Freddy Rodriguez

Freddy Rodriguez was born and raised in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. “I went back to my old neighborhood, and I want to see familiar faces and no one lives there anymore,” he told us. “Someone said to me the other day, ‘Can you believe there’s a Marc Jacobs in Bucktown?’ I was like, that’s crazy. I remember in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I would get shot on that corner that Marc Jacobs is on.”

4. Carmen Corral

Southland star Carmen Corral is proud of her inner-city roots. She told us, “Chicago’s known for its large immigrant communities. There were Mexican, Polish, and Puerto Rican people in the neighborhood. I love Mexican music. When you see me, you wouldn’t think I’d be pounding banda music, but I grew up with a live corrido at every party.”

5. Aimee Garcia

Aimee Garcia was born, raised and educated in Chi-Town. She was born in Chicago proper, but moved to Oak Park as a child. Later, she attended Northwestern University in the northern suburbs. “Chicago is very near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I’m a Chicago girl through and through.”

6. Nadine Velazquez

Nadine Velazquez is proud of her Chicago heritage! She attended Notre Dame High School for Girls, and decided to stay in the city for college, graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 2001.

7. Alex Meneses

Alex Meneses caught the bug for theatre in her hometown! She studied acting at Chicago’s infamous The Second City Improvisational Theater during her summer vacations.

8. Marisol Nichols

24 actress Marisol Nichols was born in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, but raised in the suburb of Naperville, Illinois.

9. Tanya Saracho

Tanya Saracho, the writer behind Devious Maids and Looking, was born in Mexico, but later immigrated to Texas in the ‘80s. These days, the playwright and screenwriter calls Chicago her home.  She told Chicago Mag about her love for the Midwestern city. “I have lived a lifetime here – a couple lifetimes here,” she said. “There’s something of my DNA here. The people here feed my soul. Walking down the street, or having an exchange at 90 Miles with another Cuban person, or somebody dancing in the restaurant while they wait for their order – even that little thing is so different than my life in L.A. I want to stay in Chicago.”

10. Kiele Sanchez

The Glades star Kiele Sanchez has her roots in the Windy City. She even married a fellow Chicagoan: Friday Night Lights star Zach Gilford, who was born and raised in Evanston!

11. Rosa Blasi

Strong Medicine star Rosa Blasi cultivated her love for acting in the Windy City. She was born in Chicago, and studied theatre at the Piven Performance Company (owned by Jeremy Piven’s parents!) and at The Second City.

12. Justina Machado

Justina Machado was born in Chicago to Puerto Rican immigrants. There, she attended Lane Tech high school and performed with the Latino Chicago Theater Company. She later moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting. “I’m from the Northwest Side," she said. "Logan Square is where my parents live. Every time I go back, Chicago is so different. The neighborhoods are so different. There are all these new restaurants. I’m always going to a new spot.”

13. Rose Abdoo

Rose Abdoo calls Chicago her home – and that’s where she began her career. She performed at various improvisational theaters in the city, including four years with The Second City.

14. Lisa Guerrero

Although Lisa Guerrero was born in Chicago, she moved to San Diego and grew up in Huntington Beach, California.