15 TV Stars You Never Knew Were Latino

Latinos don’t fit into any one mold. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors—and our TV stars are no exception. Last week, Latina.com reader Maria Ortiz proved that when she pointed out that Glee star, Lea Michelle, is actually part-Spanish (she has Sephardic Jewish heritage) on our Facebook fan page. Maria’s observation prompted us to think of other Latin TV stars who people might not know are Latin.

Check out our gallery of these Latin actors, and tell us which ones surprise you the most!


1. Vivo: Charisma Carpenter

Charisma Carpenter, 42

She's best known for playing Cordelia Chase—a conceited and popular teenager who reluctantly joins “The Scooby Gang” in Whedon’s hit TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But we’re betting you didn’t know that this talented beauty—who also starred on Whedon's Buffy spinoff, Angel—is Latina! Charisma’s dad might be French and German, but her mom is a mix of Cherokee and Spanish. The actress lived in Rosarito City, Mexico during her teen years.

2. Vivo: Vanessa Marcil

Vanessa Marcil, 41: This beautiful actress is probably best known for her role as saucy vixen, Gina Kincaid on Aaron Spelling’s hit series, Beverly Hills, 90210, but few know Marcil by her birth name: Sally Vanessa Ortiz. Vanessa was born in Indio, California to parents, Patricia Marcil and Peter Ortiz--a self-made Mexican millionaire!

3. Vivo: David Gallagher

David Gallagher, 25

For ten seasons, David played Simon Camden, a member of one of TV’s whitest families on the long-running family drama, 7th Heaven. But who would’ve guessed that this blonde haired, blue-eyed kid—who also played Mikey Ubriacco (John Travolta’s son) in 1993’s Look Who’s Talking Now—was Latino? Gallagher was born in Flushing, New York to Cubana Elena Lopez

4. Vivo: Sara Paxton

Sara Paxton, 21: Like David, Sara’s got blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, but don’t let that fool you—this is one young lady who’s very proud to be Latina! The daughter of a Scottish and Irish father, Sara’s mother, Lucia was born In Monterrey, Mexico and raised in Ciudad Acuña. Last year, when we asked Sara how people react when they find out she’s Mexican. “They don’t believe me at all," she told us. "I think its because they have this stereotype of what a Hispanic girl is supposed to look like, and I don’t fit that typical look,” We’re proud to have you as one of us, Sara!

5. Vivo: Joanna Garcia

Joanna Garcia, 30: You know her as Cheyenne Hart-Montgomery, a white cheerleader on Reba, and as Megan Smith, a white journalist on the CW’s Privileged, but did you know that this beautiful actress is Cuban? Born in Tampa, Florida to a Spanish-American mother and a Cuban father, last year Joanna became the first Latina to land a recurring role on Gossip Girl, and she had this to say about getting the role: “I'm always proud to be Latin anywhere I go, but the fact that I'm breaking a little ground here makes me very excited!” You go, girl!

6. Vivo: Alexis Bledel

Alexis Bledel, 28: For seven seasons, we watched Alexis play Rory Gilmore on the hit CW series, Gilmore Girls, but until Latina put her on our cover, few people knew she was one of us. Bledel was born in Houston, Texas to a Mexican mother named Nanette Dozier and an Argentinean dad named Martin. Her first language is Spanish, and she even showed off her Español during an episode of Gilmore Girls.

7. Vivo: Alexa Vega

Alexa Vega, 21: She plays American teenager Ruby Gallagher on the ABC Family comedy, Ruby and the Rockets, but Vega—who first gained recognition for starring as Carmen Cortez in Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids—is actually half-Colombian.

8. Vivo: Morena Baccarin

Morena Baccarin, 33

The Homeland star played Inara Serra on Whedon's hit sci-fi show, Firefly and reprised her role for the feature film Serenity (2005), a space Western film written and directed by Whedon. But in real life, Morena isn’t from another planet—she’s from Brazil! Born in Rio de Janeiro, her mother is Brazilian TV actress Vera Setta, and her father is the Brazilian Record TV News Coordinator, Fernando Baccarin.

9. Vivo: Sonya Walger

Sonya Walger, 35: She might have a thick British accent, but Sonya, who stars as Dr. Olivia Benford on ABC’s FlashForward, is actually half-Argentinean. “My dad is from Buenos Aires and my mom is English” Sonya told Latina.com last year: “I didn’t grow up [in Argentina], but my parents brought me up bilingual and I traveled back and forth my whole life, so I feel English, but I also feel very Argentine.” Sonya says her favorite Argentinean food includes empanadas, carne and chorizo. Atta girl!

10. Vivo: Jeanine Mason

Jeanine Mason, 20:  When Jeanine Mason won the fifth season of FOX’s hit dance competition, So You Think You Can Dance, no one knew this brilliant dancer was Cuban. But the Miami-born Latina—whose aunt sent her pastelitos de guayaba y queso and croquetas during the competition—told Latina.com she couldn’t be prouder of her background: “My entire family is Cuban: My dad’s family and my mom’s family! I am a first-generation cubana americana!”

11. Vivo: Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza, 25: She plays Amy Poehler's slothful college intern, April, on NBC’s hit comedy, Parks and Recreation; but people have a hard time believing that this talented and irreverent comedienne is Latina. “I was like the only diverse kid in my high school, and I'm half-Puerto Rican,” Plaza told Latina.com. “I have a huge family and tons of cousins in Puerto Rico. We actually hung out with them last summer, and it was awesome.”

12. Vivo: Maiara Walsh

Maiara Walsh, 22: She is best known for her roles as the Indian character, Meena Paroom on the Disney Channel series, Cory and the House, and as Eva Longoria Parker’s Mexican niece, Ana, on ABC’s Desperate Housewives, but Maiara Walsh is 100% Brazilian.

13. Vivo: Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi, 26: Rapper, singer and actor Kid Cudi—who currently plays Domingo Brown on HBO’s How to Make it in America—was born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi (hence the moniker). The talented musician first blew up when his song "Day and Night" hit the airwaves last summer, but most people don't know that he is the product of an African American mother and Mexican father.

14. Vivo: Lea Michelle

Lea Michelle , 23: This Broadway alum (Spring Awakening) is the sultry and talented beauty who inspired this gallery. Lea, who’s part Italian-American and part Spanish-Sephardic Jewish, has a voice that is a gift from God. We’re proud that this talented performer is part-Latina, and we can only hope that Lea belts out a song in Spanish on FOX’s Glee in the near future.

15. Vivo: Michael Trevino

Michael Trevino, 25:

You know him as Ozzy, the bad boy with a soft side on the CW’s 90210, and in his current role as Tyler Lockwood on the hit series, The Vampire Diaries, but did you know that Trevino is Mexican? “I'm a full-blooded Mexican,” Michael proudly told Latina.com: “My mother was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and my father—the son of Mexican immigrants—was born near Fresno, California.”  Michael’s favorite food? “There’s this small taco stand in L.A., and I'll go there and have this Pastor Quesadilla that's to die for! My grandmother also makes great Mexican dishes.”

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