Stars that Shine Brighter Than the Sunshine State: 25 Latinos from Florida

It’s always sunny in Florida, especially for these Latino stars with ties to the Sunshine State. Before they rocked stages and lit up screens with their larger than life talents, all of these Latinos called Florida home. If you’re a proud Floridian, find out which of your favorite celebs share your love of that sunlit Southern peninsula!

1. Florida: Wilmer Valderrama

Wilmer Valderrama Born in Miami, Florida

Best known for his role as Fez in That ’ 70s Show, actor and television personality Wilmer Valderrama first entered the world as a Floridian. The Venezuelan and Colombian funny guy was born in Miami before moving to Venezuela when he was three and finally Los Angeles in time to start high school.


2. Florida: Maria Canals Barrera

María Canals Barrera Born and raised in Miami, Florida

She isn’t Selena Gomez’s mother in real life, but she played her on television! Former Wizards of Waverly Place actress María Canals Barrera was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she worked at length in theater. Though she’s since moved her home base to Los Angeles, much of this Cuban’s extended family continues to reside in Miami, so we’re sure she still frequents the state for visits.  


3. Florida: Joanna Garcia

Joanna Garcia Born and raised in Tampa, Florida

Cuban actress Joanna Garcia has the pleasure of calling Tampa, Florida her first home. It was there that she got her first taste of acting in a local theater production. She was later discovered while attending Tampa Catholic High School and began commuting between the Sunshine State and Montreal, Canada, for a starring role in Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? While she’s taken on a multitude of roles, her most noted was as Cheyenne Hart Montgomery on Reba.


4. Florida: Pitbull

Pitbull Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Armando Pérez, or Pitbull as he is more commonly known, hails from Florida. The Cuban attended South Miami Senior High School and graduated from Miami Coral Park High School before dedicating himself fully to becoming a rapper. It was in Miami that Pitbull got his first break after meeting Lil Jon and being featured on his album Kings of Crunk.  


5. Florida: Alex Fernandez

Alex Fernandez Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Former professional baseball player Alex Fernandez wasn’t just born and raised in Florida, he’s a part of the state’s baseball history! The Cuban pitcher attended Miami-Dade Community College where he won the Dick Howser Trophy for National College Baseball player of the year before entering the major leagues. The athlete first played for the Chicago White Sox, but was a part of the Florida Marlins team that won their first-ever World Series championship. He may have retired from baseball, but not from Florida. Fernandez is active in the Miami Beach community getting involved in radio and politics, and he’s currently the director of baseball at a high school in Southwest Ranches, Florida. He was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2008.  


6. Florida: Alexa Vega

Alexa Vega Born in Miami, Florida

Like her home state of Florida, Alexa Vega can be too hot to handle! The stunning Colombian actress, who is best known for role in Spy Kids, was born in Miami, Florida, before moving to California with her family at the tender age of 4. 


7. Florida: Raul Esparza

Raúl Esparza Raised in Miami, Florida

Actor and singer Raúl Esparaza has achieved quite a bit throughout his career, but before all of the success he was just a boy growing up in Florida. The Cuban was born in Delaware, but spent his formative years in Miami where he attended Belen Jesuit. He eventually left the Sunshine State to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Though Esparza has been nominated for every Tony category an actor is eligible to win, he has yet to take home the award. We’re pulling for him! 


8. Florida: Victoria Justice

Victoria Justice Born in Hollywood, Florida

At 20 years old Victoria Justice is already an acting veteran starring in Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 and Victorious. It seems almost fated now that this Puerto Rican was born in Hollywood – Hollywood, Florida that is! She did move with her family, though, to the better known Hollywood, California, in 2003.


9. Florida: Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan Raised in Miami, Florida

Though she’s not a Florida native, Gloria Estefan’s family made Miami their home after fleeing Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution. The wildly popular singer graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in psychology before hitting it big. Today she’s known as the most successful Latin crossover performer, has won seven Grammy Awards and is one of the top 100 best selling music artists of all time.


10. Florida: Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez Raised in Miami, Florida

Heralded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez got his start in Miami, Florida, where he grew up. In high school he was a star shortstop on his Westminster Christian School team and helped lead them to the high school national championship as a junior. Though he signed a letter of intent to play ball for the University of Miami, the Dominican athlete opted to head straight to the big leagues. He currently plays for the New York Yankees.


11. Florida: Carlos Pena, Jr.

Carlos Pena, Jr. Raised in Western, Florida

Carlos Pena, Jr. was born in Missouri but raised in the Sunshine State. The actor and singer attended Sagemont Upper School and nurtured his love of acting by appearing in local productions of Grease and Man of La Mancha. He’s best known for starring in the Nickelodeon series, Big Time Rush, and being a member of the band by the same name. Plus, he was recently engaged to another Floridian on this list: Alexa Vega

12. Florida: Josie Loren

Josie Loren Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Josie Loren was born and raised in Miami. Known best for her role on ABC Family’s Make It or Break It, the Cuban actress cheered for a Miami all-star cheerleading team called Top Gun All Stars. We’re guessing that’s where she acquired some of her awesome moves! 

13. Florida: Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas Born in Tampa, Florida

A three-time NBA all-star, Gilbert Arenas was born in Tampa, Florida, before leaving the Sunshine State for California. Originally a Golden State Warrior, Arenas currently plays in China for the Shanghai Sharks.

14. Florida: Danny Pino

Danny Pino Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Current Law and Order: Special Victims Unit star Danny Pino was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Miami Coral Park High School before going on to Florida International University where he pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon.

15. Florida: Genesis Rodriguez

Génesis Rodríguez Born and raised in Miami, Florida

The striking Génesis Rodríguez is a Florida native. Born and raised in Miami, Rodríguez’s family recognized from an early age that she had the talent and focus to become a star. Though she’s been a successful television actress for years, some of her most recent rolls have been on the big screen in films like Man on a Ledge, Casa de Mi Padre and The Last Stand.

16. Florida: Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne Born in Pembroke Pines, Florida

Sixteen-year-old Bella Thorne’s sunny personality fits her home state of Florida. The Cuban actress was born in Pembroke Pines and is best known for her role as CeCe Jones on the Disney Channel’s Shake it Up.

17. Florida: Jose Canseco

Jose Canseco Raised in Miami, Florida

Former major league baseball player Jose Canseco was raised in Miami, Florida, after leaving Cuba with his family as an infant. He attended Coral Park High School and was drafted onto the Oakland Athletics. Canseco ended his career as a Chicago White Sox player with countless awards and honors to his name such as being named a six-time all-star and a being a two-time World Series champion.

18. Florida: Enrique Iglesias

Enrique Iglesias Raised in Miami, Florida

Singer Enrique Iglesias is heralded as one of the best selling Spanish language artists of all time. He was born in Spain but, as a child, moved to Miami to live with his father for safety reasons. The performer attended Gulliver Preparatory School and later studied business at the University of Miami. 

19. Florida: Natalie Martinez

Natalie Martinez Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Actress and model Natalie Martinez has a smile bright enough to compare to the sun of her home state. She was born and raised in Miami and attended St. Brendan High School. Since graduation, Martinez has been busy! This Cuban has appeared in music videos, telenovelas and is the spokesmodel for JLO by Jennifer Lopez.

20. Florida: Emilio Estefan

Emilio Estefan Lives in Florida

Musician Emilio Estefan may not have been born or raised in the Sunshine State, but it sure helped make him famous! His first bit of stardom came when he was a member of the Miami Sound Machine. He’s a whopping 19-time Grammy Award winner, and he currently lives in Florida with his children and his wife, another member of this list, Gloria Estefan.

21. Florida: Chris Nunez

Chris Núñez Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Cuban tattoo artist Chris Núñez can thank his home state of Florida for helping him rise to fame. Núñez was one of the featured artists on the hit TLC show Miami Ink. He can currently be seen as a judge on the Spike reality competition Ink Master.  

22. Florida: Enrique Murciano

Enrique Murciano Born and raised in Miami, Florida

Actor Enrique Murciano was born and raised in Miami. He attended Christopher Columbus High School before leaving the Sunshine State to pursue a law degree. Thankfully for Without a Trace fans, this Cuban cutie’s desire to act won out in the end.

23. Florida: Andy Garcia

Andy Garcia Raised in Miami, Florida

Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia grew up in Miami. Though he was born in Cuba, his family relocated when he was five. He attended Miami Beach Senior High School and Florida International University before going on to star in hit after hit like The Godfather Part III, When a Man Loves a Woman and The Untouchables.

24. Florida: Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio born and raised in Miami, Florida

You may not have seen him on the big screen, but this junior United States Senator from Florida has been playing quite a role in politics as of late. Marco Rubio grew up in Miami and attended the University of Florida and the University of Miami Law School. Since that time he served as City Commissioner for West Miami and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives before running for the U.S. Senate. Most recently, this Cuban gave the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address.