If you often think that there is a lack of Arab representations in the Western world, primarily in Hollywood….you are wrong!
There are many celebrities with Arab ancestry, and I assure you that you will be surprised by seeing some of the names on this list.
So here are 12 celebrities who have Arab heritage.
1. Shakira: Lebanese Roots
Shakira, the ‘Waka Waka’ singer is half Lebanese and half Colombian. She gets her Lebanese roots from her father. Shakira is never shy of her Arab roots and often expresses them, may it be through her zaghrouta tongue roll, her belly dancing, or through her Arabic song ‘Ojos Asi’ (Eyes Like Those).
2. Ariana Grande: Moroccan and Algerian Roots
This singer who is known for her hit singles such as ‘thank u, next’ has Algerian and Moroccan roots which she found out after doing a DNA test in 2014, and on Twitter wrote “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.”
3. Steve Jobs: Half Syrian
What comes to your mind when you think of Steve Jobs? If you guessed Apple, your right! This late tech maestro is half Syrian. He had gotten his roots from his estranged biological father, but since he was adopted into a White family, he did not have any experience of Syrian culture or influence.
4. Rami Malek: Egyptian Heritage
Rami Malek, the Oscar award winner for his movies such as Bohemian Rhapsody is full Egyptian! Malek often gushes about his roots, during the 91st Academy Awards in his Oscar acceptance speech, courtesy of stepFEED, he says, “I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I’m a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now.”
5. Salma Hayek: Lebanese Roots
This A-lister beauty known for her hit movies such as Frida is quarter-Lebanese from her father who is half-Mexican and half-Lebanese. Hayek can be applauded because for Frida she is the first Lebanese-Mexican woman to receive a nomination at the Academy Awards for the Best Actress category. This is a breakthrough and inspiration for many women of colour to pursue their passions in White-male dominated Hollywood.
6. Zoe Saldana: Lebanese Roots
Zoe Saldana is a dancer and actress and is known for her highest-grossing films; Avatar, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. In 2019, she was the second highest-grossing film actress of all time! Saldana gets her Lebanese roots from her paternal side. Moreover, Saldana wears her Lebanese heritage with pride as she has an Arabic tattoo that reportedly says, “I want to ask her” (أريد أن أسألها). To conclude, Saldana makes every Arab proud of their heritage!
7. Mika: Lebanese Heritage
Mika, the British singer, known for his hit tracks like ‘Grace Kelly’ is of Lebanese heritage from his mother. Mika’s breakthrough in the UK music industry tells every Arab singer that if he can be successful with his Middle-Eastern Roots, then anyone can!
8. Jade Thirlwall: Yemeni and Egyptian Roots
Singer and songwriter Jade Thirlwall who is famously known for her contribution to the girl group, Little Mix is Yemeni and Egyptian from her mother’s side. Jade confesses that when she was younger, she had trouble with her Middle Eastern heritage. In an interview with BBC UK, Jade says, “I’d identify myself as mixed-race; if I delved deeper, I’d say of Arab heritage, I guess. I’ve had an inner battle of not knowing where I fit in or what larger community I fit into.” Thus, Jade is now attempting to reconcile with her Arab heritage and wear it proudly.
9. Wentworth Miller: Syrian and Lebanese Roots
This Prison Break star is quite multifaceted! His father is of African-American, Jamaican, German, and English heritage. While his mother is Russian, Dutch, French, Syrian, and Lebanese. Although Miller has a small amount of Arab heritage, he is still part of the Arab community.
10. Vince Vaughn: Lebanese Roots
American actor and filmmaker Vince Vaughn known for his works in movies such as Wedding Crashers and The Break-Up has Lebanese ancestry. Vince’s paternal grandmother was of Lebanese descent, so he gets his heritage from his father. Although he does not publicly talk of his roots, we must not forget that he is Arab!
11. Jerry Seinfeld: Syrian Roots
American stand-up comedian, actor, and filmmaker Jerry Seinfeld has Syrian roots from his maternal side, as his mother is of Syrian descent!
12. Gabbie Hanna: Lebanese Descent
If you watch YouTube, then you may have come across the YouTuber, Gabbie Hanna with her channel, The Gabbie Show. Although she is now #canceled after being embroiled in many controversies, we must not forget the Lebanese ancestry that she gets from her father.
We can conclude that Arab heritage celebrities are quite prevalent in the industry. Their presence gives all aspiring young Arab people of colour an opportunity to break into this predominantly White business!