Six Asian American and Pacific Islander Celebrities Today


Jay Lee

J. Lee and Maeve Kaufman

Historically, there have been numerous figures who have influenced others in many ways: music, change, philosophy, and much more. Celebrities, in particular, are important influences in pop culture and are easily able to set examples for others.

It is no secret that people tend to look up to others who share the same values and cultures as themselves. People like to see their ethnic groups being represented in the media, to see respected figures on the screen or hear them on the radio, figures who look just like them.

However, due to patterns of representation in the media or lack thereof, some figures are erased of their heritage or most celebrities we know of are white. The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month; it’s the time to clear up some of the misinformation in our celebrity culture. 

  • Bruno Mars

Peter Gene Hernandez, more commonly known as Bruno Mars, is a well-known Filipino singer, songwriter, record producer, musician, and dancer. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 8th, 1985, Bruno Mars is ethnically Asian; his mother is of Filipino and Spanish descent and emigrated to the United States from the Philippines, while his father’s ancestry is Puerto Rican and Ashkenazi Jewish. He has been playing music ever since he was young, and he has stated that his home, Hawaii, has influenced his music significantly. “Growing up in Hawaii made me the man I am,” says Mars. 

He is most well known for his hit songs Treasure, Just The Way You Are, The Lazy Song, and many others. Mars’ vocals are unmistakably unique, with fans describing his voice as relaxing. The singer has seen a mass of success with his songs being played on radios across the world. With fifteen Grammy wins and 31 nominations, Mars is an extremely talented and popular artist. 

  • Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Isabel Rodrigo is a Filipino singer-songwriter and actress; she is globally known among most pop listeners and even those who listen to music outside of the pop genre. Olivia Rodrigo was born in Murrieta, California on February 20th, 2003. Her mother is Irish and German and her father is Filipino. Ever since Rodrigo was young, she has been interested in music and songwriting, accrediting her inspiration to artists like Taylor Swift. She has also been influenced by her parents’ favorite alternative rock bands.

From her debut in 2020, Rodrigo’s music has been a soaring success. Rodrigo recently made her way up billboard charts with her debut single Drivers License, and her album that followed, Sour. Her album became the second best-selling album of 2021, and she achieved many other accomplishments. All songs from her recent album Sour have placed in the top 30 of the Billboard charts. Rodrigo has been recognized as Entertainer of the Year and Woman of the Year. 

  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson 

Dwayne Douglas Johnson, or otherwise known as “The Rock”, is a Samoan actor, producer, and former wrestler. He has initially achieved fame through wrestling, having worked with WWE for eight years before starting an acting career and becoming one of the highest paid actors in the world.  Dwayne Johnson was born in Hayward, California to his mother who is Samoan and his father who is of African descent. Samoans are indigenous Polynesians of the Samoan Islands, located in the central South Pacific Ocean. Johnson comes from a line of wrestlers, his grandfather and father wrestling before him. 

Johnson has received numerous awards for his acting and wrestling career, such as People’s Choice Award, Teen Choice Award, Kids’ Choice Award, and he is a ten-time world champion in wrestling. He has many accomplishments in both his acting career and his wrestling career. Now, his films have grossed over $10 billion worldwide.

  • Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Anne Hudgens is a Filipino actress and singer, widely known for her role as Gabriella in High School Musical. Hudgens was born in Salinas, California. Her father’s ancestry is of Irish, French, and Native American roots and her mother is Filipino, native to Manila. She has been acting from young age, usually starring in local musical theater productions as a singer until her professional acting career took off when she was fifteen.

Hudgens’ role as Gabriella in High School Musical for the Disney Channel, sparked her career in acting. Since, she has starred in other films such as Tick, Tick… Boom! and Bad Boys For Life. She also co-hosted the Met Gala in Manhattan in 2022. Vanessa Hudgens’ other achievements include winning both a Teen Choice Award and a Kids’ Choice Award. 

  • Keanu Reeves 

Keanu Charles Reeves is a Hawaiian and Chinese actor, born in Beirut, Lebanon to his mother of English descent and to his father of Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish, English, and Portuguese descent. Hawaii is part of Polynesia, a subregion that is considered part of the Pacific Islands and China is an Eastern Asian country in the continent of Asia. Reeves hadn’t aspired to be an actor when he was young, but a professional hockey player; it wasn’t until he was fifteen that he decided he’d wanted to act. He remembers being influenced by Chinese culture in his youth, due to his close relationship with his Chinese grandmother. He began acting in theater when he was young.

His achievements include nominations and awards from the MTV Movie Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Teen Choice Awards, and more. Reeves is most known for his roles as Neo in The Matrix and as John Wick in John Wick. His career revived after his role in The Matrix, which received many awards and critical acclaim. Reeves is a successful actor and philanthropist.

  • Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld is a Filipino actress and singer. She was born in Los Angeles, California, her mother being of Filipino, African, British, and German descent while her father was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. When Steinfeld was young, she’d been inspired to try acting because her cousin, True O’Brien, was an actress. She began acting at age ten and landed her breakthrough role at age thirteen. She has landed significant lead acting roles such as Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Kate Bishop in the Marvel show Hawkeye.

Steinfeld has been nominated for and won various awards throughout her career, including Billboard Music Awards, Critics’ Choice Super Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Kids Choice Awards, and others. Her role in Hawkeye sparked interest in many Marvel fans, invested in her character and performance as Kate Bishop. This portrayal led to her nomination for the Critics’ Choice Super Award.