Skip To Content
  • asianpacificamerican badge

39 Mixed Asian Pacific Islander Celebrities Who Have Opened Up About Their Racial Identity

"I was arguably America's favorite white boy at one point, and it's like, 'Wait, that guy is mixed?'"

1. Jessie Mei Li

A selfie of Jessie Mei Li in a white blouse with her dark hair slicked down
@jessie_mei_li / Via

Jessie Mei Li is of Chinese and English heritage. In a 2021 interview with the Beat, Li talked about her own childhood: “Growing up, as a mixed-race person, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me, let alone Asian people, generally. And if they were onscreen, they were always a fairly two-dimensional role, a lot of times, especially in western TV shows and films."

She continued, "I think, for lots of people [who are] mixed-race or first-generation immigrants, you spend so much of your life not feeling like you belong anywhere. I certainly grew up in a predominantly white area, and I was always ‘the Chinese one’ to my white friends, but to my Asian friends and family, I was very English, and you never really feel like you belong anywhere. My race is a big part of my life, but it’s not everything that I am."

2. Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the 2021 Australian Open Women's Final, at Government House on February 21, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia
Graham Denholm / Getty Images

Naomi Osaka is of Haitian and Japanese heritage. In a 2020 interview with WSJ Magazine, Osaka said, "I’m just trying to put a platform out for all the Japanese people that look like me and live in Japan and when they go to a restaurant, they get handed an English menu, even though it’s just a little microaggression."

She also opened up about a time when she was younger and playing against a Japanese opponent: "She was talking with another Japanese girl, and they didn’t know that I was listening [or that] I spoke Japanese. Her friend asked her who she was playing, so she said Osaka. And her friend says, ‘Oh, that Black girl. Is she supposed to be Japanese?’ And then the girl that I was playing was like, ‘I don’t think so.' I remember that specifically because, yeah, I sometimes feel like a lot of people think that way about me."

3. Avan Jogia

Avan Jogia with short hair wearing a teddy coat and button down shirt
Jason Laveris / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Avan Jogia is of Indian, English, and Irish heritage. He published Mixed Feelings, a combination of poetry and interviews with other mixed-race individuals that focuses on self-identity, in 2019.

In a 2019 interview with 34th Street about Mixed Feelings, Jogia shared, "I realized the collective mixed experience is so similar. It doesn’t matter what the racial background of those mixed-nesses are. We are all unified in the similarities of the experience."

"I never had anything that I could point to that I could be like, ‘Hey, this is what the mixed experience is,’" he expanded, "So, if it offers that, that to me is like the goal here, to be at least a little bit of a framework or a guideline, or at least ask the right questions that might inspire you to define or figure out who you are."

4. Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo at an event wearing a lime green dress with her hair down in waves
Jmenternational / JMEnternational for BRIT Awards / Getty Images

Olivia Rodrigo is of Filipino, German, and Irish heritage. In a 2018 interview with CAAM, she opened up about her Filipino heritage, "My great-grandfather immigrated here from the Philippines when he was just a teenager. He’s my grandma’s dad, and my grandpa is also Filipino as well.

My dad grew up in a house where they were always making Filipino food, his grandpa always spoke Tagalog. All of those traditions have trickled down to our generation. Every Thanksgiving we have lumpia, and things like that."

5. Ross Butler

Ross Butler smiles in a matching suit and shirt
Gregg Deguire / FilmMagic

Ross Butler is of English Dutch and Chinese Malaysian heritage. In a 2020 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Butler discussed how he felt growing up mixed-race in America and how he turned to film as a means of escapism:

"You don’t really feel like you belong. You don’t feel like you have people you can lean on or who understand what you’re going through; it was isolating. I became a social chameleon. I got really good at fitting the mold of who I thought people saw me as."

6. Jessica Henwick

Jessica Henwick smiles with her hair in a low ponytail, wearing a chiffon black dress
Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Jessica Henwick is of Zambian and Chinese Singaporean heritage. In a 2020 interview with Hapa Magazine, Henwick talked in detail about her identity: "When I first visited Hawaii, I was called Hapa all the time. It's nice to acknowledge mixed-race ancestry — it's more than just DNA. It's about your interests, your palate...being raised with a foot in two different cultures. The beauty of that, as well as the obstacles you face."

As for her own childhood in England, Henwick shared, "I grew up in an area with no Asians. My brothers and I were the first non-white students at our school. It was rough, I won't lie. But it built in me a mental armor that got me to where I am today. I find it interesting to look back at just how effectively I would compartmentalize. I think anyone who has grown up between two cultures can understand this. I would completely code switch, depending on where I was and who I was with.

I had two lives; the first where I went to a Roman Catholic school, ate mashed potatoes at lunch, and played Conkers with the kids in the playground, and the second where I would spend months with my Ma running up jungle trails in Ipoh, staining my hands purple with mangosteen and bathing out of a rainwater bucket.

When I would go to Singapore or Malaysia, our friends there would struggle to understand my British accent for the first few weeks. And when I returned to the UK, my school friends would laugh at me because my voice had changed, they said. I could not for the life of me hear it, but I'm sure they were right."

7. Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa smiles in a red suede jacket
Brook Mitchell / Getty Images

Jason Momoa is of Native Hawaiian, German, Irish, and Native American heritage. (He's also married to and has two kids with Lisa Bonet.) In a 2018 interview with the New Paper, Momoa talked about Aquaman's significance to mixed-race people, saying, "And honestly, to be the first mixed-race superhero in 2018...that is a huge honor."

He noted, "And also just to play it so close to who I am, with all of Arthur's imperfections. I don't have to be Superman — I am not. But I got to play it as someone who really is split between two worlds, and I am excited for the world to see it."

8. Jhené Aiko

Jhené Aiko smiles with her hair in long braids and lilac eyeliner
Taylor Hill / FilmMagic

Jhené Aiko is of Spanish, Dominican, Japanese, Native American, Black, and German heritage. In a 2019 interview with Revolt TV, Aiko talked about the pressure she faced to conform to the entertainment industry's standards: "When I started going on auditions, they would put me for roles [as] the Spanish girl, or the Japanese girl or the Black girl.”

She continued, "When I was 12 [or] 13, someone told my mom, ‘You should really play up one or the other. You should straighten her hair so she could look more Asian, or you should keep her hair natural and curly and put a little bronzer on her so she [will] look more Black."

9. Henry Golding

Henry Golding in a turtleneck and suit, smiling
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Henry Golding is of English and Malaysian heritage. He opened up about being mixed race in a 2018 interview with Bustle: "I felt like if you were an Asian mix, were you allowed to belong in any society, or were you just meant to be on the outskirts?"

Golding expanded, saying, "Just because by blood I'm not full Asian doesn't mean I can't own my Asian-ness. And I relate so much more with my Asian side."

10. Darren Criss

Darren Criss in a beaded blazer and round, brown tinted glasses
Phillip Faraone / Getty Images

Darren Criss is of Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, English, German, and Irish heritage. In a 2020 interview with People, Criss opened up about his identity: "I’ve been half-Filipino my whole life. But no one ever asked about it. It’s tough, this idea of ‘white-passing.’ It’s not even a term I heard of until the past two years. When people have a say in who you are — people you don’t even know — it makes you rethink what your balance is. Something you’ve had down your whole life. It’s a tricky cocktail in America." He continued, "I’ve always been proud of my heritage, of being Filipino. Just because people don’t see it, doesn’t make it any less real to me."

In an interview with TheWrap later that year, Criss expanded, "You’re dealing with two experiences that present different reactions. Not only internally, but externally. Who are you to the world? How do they see you? How do you see yourself? What happens if you happen to look more like one half than the other, which one are you?

In my mind, I was just me. My mom’s Filipino and my dad’s a white guy, and that’s just kind of how it is. You could argue, well maybe that’s because you’re white-passing and nobody ever questioned anything.” He added, “And then I feel bad and I go, Oh god, did I somehow turn my back on my Filipino-ness? Like, at what point am I supposed to raise my hand higher for that? I don’t know the answer.”

11. H.E.R.

H.E.R. in a burgundy velvet dress with matching eyeshadow, wearing her hair in long loose waves
Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

H.E.R. is of Black and Filipino heritage. In an interview with WWD, she said she "identifies strongly with both sides," and that her home as a kid was distinctly Filipino. She took her shoes off at the door, and her grandparents lived with her — always cooking.

She continued, "My dad would throw down with the soul food when we had our Black side over. Black culture, to me, is so important, and I identify with young Black women. I represent young Black women, and I’m proud of that."

12. Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi looks directly at the camera in a suit at an award show
Rachel Luna / Getty Images

Taika Waititi is of Māori (Te-Whānau-ā-Apanui), Russian Jewish, and Irish heritage. In a 2018 interview with Dazed, Waititi talked about growing up half-Polynesian in New Zealand: "Growing up it was very normal to go into a store and they would say, ‘What do you want?’ And you’d be like, (muttering) ‘I’m just looking at chips, man.’ I remember getting a job at a dairy, and they would never give me a job at the till; I was always at the back washing vegetables."

He went on, "And then one day one of the owners asked me if I sniffed glue — like, ‘Are you a glue-sniffer?’ In my head I was like, ‘Motherfucker, you grew up with my mum!’ And I knew for sure that he didn’t ask other kids in the store if they were glue-sniffers."

13. Charles Melton

Charles Melton smiles in a navy suit
Amy Sussman / Getty Images

Charles Melton is of Korean and English heritage. In a 2019 interview with Hapa Magazine, Melton said, "To be on both sides, being Caucasian and Asian, how inclusive or exclusive do you want to be when it comes to race, with being Asian? It’s weird when some people try to measure your Asian-ness, when it’s like, 'I’m Asian.' It’s so extreme. 'Oh, you’re half, but you’re not Asian.' I am Asian. I’m probably more 'Asian' than you. I grew up in Korea. I grew up speaking Korean and being spanked by my mom with the rice spoon.

Then you have people in America that are second or third generation, but they’re full Asian. Do they see themselves as more 'Asian' than you when you’re just half or a quarter? When you grew up in Asia? How do you measure that? If you’re Asian, you’re Asian. If it runs through your blood, it runs through your blood. How exclusive do you want to be?

When I was in Korea, people knew I was Korean, but they knew I wasn’t full. When I’m somewhere like Kansas or Texas, they’re like, 'Oh, you’re Asian.' Depending on where you are in the world or the US affects how people are going to measure your 'Asian-ness.'"

14. Devon Aoki

Devon Aoki in a yellow maxi dress with her hair long and dyed dirty-blonde
Stephen Lovekin / WireImage for amfAR / Getty Images

Aoki is of Japanese, German, and English heritage. In a 2006 interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Aoki discussed her identity: "My mom is German English. I grew up with my mom, but I can’t escape the way I look, and my whole life I’ve had a strong sense of self because of it. I’ve watched my father (Benihana restaurateur Rocky Aoki) and all of the achievements he’s made; I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps in some ways in changing the dynamic of how Asians are interpreted."

She then expanded, "There weren’t a lot of people who were even allowed to represent for our culture, being from the East. So every movie I do, that’s a thought in my head that I have to represent for Asian people. That’s really important to me."

15. Michael Yo

Michael Yo smiles and wears a black T-shirt and denim jacket
Roy Rochlin / Getty Images

Michael Yo is of Black and Korean heritage. In a 2013 interview with HalfKorean, Yo talked about growing up mixed in Texas: "I was pretty much the only mixed kid in school. In Houston, I went to a predominantly white school and if you were Black, you were Black, and if you were Asian, you were Asian. There [were] no mixed kids. It was different times back then, especially in that area. I got called all kinds of racist names. When kids don’t know what you are, they can be very mean. They were trying to be mean, but they didn’t know how it affected me. I was very insecure growing up being both."

He continued, "When I hung out with Asian kids, the Black kids would get mad. When I grew up, I guess I connected most with the Black and white kids because I played sports, and I wasn’t a great student. We had one [Asian kid] on our basketball team, then a couple of Black kids, and then mostly white kids. I didn’t really connect with my Asian side until I started doing stand-up."

16. K.J. Apa

K.J. Apa wears a black button-down and tux jacket as he smiles at a Vogue event
Steve Granitz / WireImage / Getty Images

K.J. Apa is of Samoan, Scottish, English, and Irish heritage. In a 2017 interview with Vulture, he spoke about his Samoan heritage, saying, "I have a massive Samoan family. And the Samoan culture has always played a massive part of my life. I’ve got hundreds of family on my dad’s side that live in Samoa and in New Zealand. I’ve just been surrounded by the culture ever since I was a kid."

He continued, "I actually used to speak Samoan, but me and my sisters all kind of lost it. We go there at least once a year to see family. And my dad recently just got a traditional Samoan tattoo. He’s a chief in Samoa, so he got that tattoo to commemorate it."

17. Danny Pudi

Danny Pudi smiles in a casual, navy blue button-down
Gregg Deguire / Getty Images

Danny Pudi is of Indian and Polish heritage. In an 2017 interview with the Center for Asian American Media, Pudi said, "Inside my home, I’m very Polish. As soon as I left the door, in school and in public, I was pretty much perceived as Indian." When asked about his upbringing as a "brown kid in a Polish family in Chicago," Pudi answered:

"That’s pretty much it. I laugh when I hear that description, so I can only imagine what people thought of me back in the ’80s in Chicago. I always felt a little strange. I always felt a little odd. We lived in an amazing neighborhood though, and our family was super tight. So I always felt safe, which was wonderful. I knew our situation was different, but we were always encouraged to embrace that.

And my mom especially decided it wasn’t enough to stick out. So she made me take Polish dance and take violin lessons and all this other stuff — so that way I would stick out even more than I already did. Which can be challenging growing up, you know…you’re just trying to blend in. It’s pretty difficult when you grow up speaking Polish, but you and half of your family is from Andhra Pradesh. But it was wonderful. It was very colorful."

18. Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko smiles with her bleach-blonde hair in a wavy updo
Rachel Luna / WireImage

Hayley Kiyoko is of Japanese, Welsh, and Scottish heritage. In a 2017 interview with SXSW, she talked about how being biracial influenced her: "Naturally, being biracial shapes you as a person because you experience different things. As an actress, for example, I’m constantly going out for Asian American roles, and ‘I’m not Asian enough.’ They will flat out say that.

Then, I’ll go out for open ethnicity roles, and they will go, ‘You’re not white enough.’ It’s just part of who I am and what I look like."

19. Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen smiling in a blue maxi dress and large diamond earrings
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Chrissy Teigen is of Thai and Norwegian heritage. In a 2018 interview with SheKnows, Teigen discussed her own childhood growing up mixed race and her thoughts on her daughter Luna's experience: "I remember feeling confused when I grew up, filling out the forms on those standardized tests. I was like, ‘Am I Pacific Islander? What am I? I don’t even know!’"

"And then there was ‘Other,’" she noted, "But I always said ‘Asian’ for some wild reason, even though it’s a perfect 50/50. Still, I remember the biggest question growing up was, ‘What are you? What are you? What are you?’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I worry sometimes that Luna is going to be so much in the middle that she’s not going to know, but I think by the time she grows up, it’s such a melting pot, this whole world now."

20. Karen O

Karen O smiles with a bold red lipstick, black turtleneck, and leather jacket
Brent N. Clarke / FilmMagic

Karen O is of Korean and Polish heritage. O was born in South Korea, and her family moved to the US before she was three. In a 2013 interview with the New York Times, she discussed how she struggled to assimilate: "I didn’t speak Korean, so I couldn’t hang with the Koreans. And when I’d hang out with the whiteys, I was always self-conscious about being half-Korean."

By eighth grade, O was forced to reckon with what it meant to be different: "I was hanging with some popular girls but sort of as their pet. I was the novelty, you know? And then it turned on me in a pretty dramatic way." She told the New York Times that this experience caused her to identify as a "weirdo," which ultimately led her to rock 'n' roll.

21. Kimora Lee Simmons

Kimora Lee Simmons with her hair down and straight, wearing a sheer green dress
J. Vespa / WireImage / Getty Images

Kimora Lee Simmons is of Black, Korean, and Japanese heritage. In an article for Working Mother, she wrote, "I was a loner growing up. I was a mixed-race girl with a Korean Japanese mother and an African American father, and none of the other kids at my school were like me. I was nearly 6 feet tall by the time I was 11 years old. And I was an only child being raised by a single mother."

She then revealed, "They called me 'chinky giraffe.' I cried all the time. But my mother wanted me to turn my tears into something else, something positive." So her mother signed her up for modeling, where Karl Lagerfeld eventually dubbed her "the face of the 21st century."

22. Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn smiling, wearing a single-shoulder, black dress embellished with gold buckles
Steve Granitz / WireImage / Getty Images

Munn is of German, Irish, English, and Chinese heritage. She predominantly grew up in Japan, though the moved back to Oklahoma for her last two years of high school.

When asked about the struggles she encountered trying to establish herself in a 2019 interview with Prestige Hong Kong, Munn revealed, "I’d go out for so many auditions, for everything. And then I’d be told, 'You’re too Asian,' or, 'You’re too white.' I remember someone telling me, 'Don’t feel bad. One day they won’t be trying to match you to fit with anyone else. You’ll just be hired for you.' So you can’t help but get frustrated. That’s part of it all."

23. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris smiling as she sits on a talk show couch in a navy blue suit with a white shirt
Alexander Tamargo / Getty Images

Kamala Harris is of Jamaican and Indian heritage. In her 2019 memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris explained that she and her younger sister Maya "were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture," but that her mother still "understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters. She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as Black girls, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud Black women."

In an interview with the Washington Post, Harris asserted, "...when I first ran for office that was one of the things that I struggled with, which is that you are forced through that process to define yourself in a way that you fit neatly into the compartment that other people have created. My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it."

24. Shay Mitchell

Shay Mitchell with her hair slicked back into a bun, wearing a blazer as she smiles at the camera
John Shearer / Getty Images

Shay Mitchell is of Filipino, Irish, and Scottish heritage. She talked about struggling at school due to her cultural background in a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan, explaining, "I was so uncomfortable being Filipino. I’d get ‘Oh, is your mom a nanny?’ It’s like, No, fucker, but even if she was, do you know how hard that is? Could you do it? No."

25. Sir Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley wears a white dress shirt with a collarless suit jacket as he smiles at the camera
Francois G. Durand / WireImage

Sir Ben Kingsley is of Indian and English heritage. Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji and was called 'Krish' as a kid. When asked in an interview with the Daily Mail about his childhood in Salford in the '50s, Kingsely said, "My father as GP, being a sort of emblem in that Salford pond, made us more celebrated as curiosities than ostracized as people who didn't belong.

"Then, I think one in four of the students at my school was Jewish. Every single one of my friends was Jewish. My mother was half-Jewish, so I felt a part of exotic, cosmopolitan Manchester. I was fortunate.'"

26. Naomi Scott

Naomi Scott looks into the camera at a Charlie's Angels event, wearing a latex black turtleneck and sequenced blue and black dress
Mike Marsland / Mike Marsland / WireImage / Getty Images

Naomi Scott is of Indian and English heritage. Speaking to her background in an interview with Teen Vogue, she said, "There were moments growing up where you’re like, 'Oh, I don’t really feel Indian enough.' But now I’m at a place where I’m like, you know what? It’s okay."

"It doesn’t make me any less Indian, or any less half-Indian," she asserts, adding, "My two favorite meals — one is my mum’s curry and one being a roast dinner. And that is me in a nutshell."

27. Nicole Scherzinger

Nicole Scherzinger wears a deep-cut black beaded dress with her hair in a short cropped cut
Gregg Deguire / WireImage / Getty Images

Nicole Scherzinger is of Filipino, Native Hawaiian, and Russian heritage. She was born in Hawaii, and, in an interview with Pacific Citizen, she said, "My mother, growing up, would dance the hula and Tahitian with her family. My mother taught me hula when I was really young."

She also opened up about being a mixed-race artist, explaining she faced challenges getting work "especially because I started out in theater, and a lot of people didn't understand what my nationality was or what race I was. So, they were a little confused on how to cast me or what my place was. But it was really confusing at first because people wanted me to be like the Puerto Rican girl, the sidekick, the Puerto Rican best friend."

28. Maggie Q

Maggie Q smiles wearing a black, chiffon blouse and neck tie
Gregg Deguire / WireImage

Maggie Q is of Vietnamese, Polish, and Irish heritage. In a 2008 interview with Today, Q explained that after leaving the Hong Kong film industry to come to the US, American filmmakers were confused by her biracial background:

"They think, ‘Wow, what is this? There’s this girl. She’s Asian, but she’s not. ... They’re really not sure where to put me. It’s a struggle. You got to win roles. You really got to fight for them. When I left Asia and went to the US, essentially I was starting over. It’s very hard. It’s a lot of work."

29. Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars giving a speech, wearing an all-black suit
Carlo Allegri / Reuters / Getty Images

Bruno Mars is of Flipino, Spanish, Puerto Rican, and Jewish heritage. In a 2017 interview with Latina magazine, Mars reflects on not being easily categorizable: "There are a lot of people who have this mixed background that are in this gray zone. A lot of people think, ‘This is awesome. You’re in this gray zone, so you can pass for whatever the hell you want.’ But it’s not like that at all. It’s actually the exact opposite."

Mars continued, "What we’re trying to do is educate people to know what that feels like, so they’ll never make someone feel like that ever again. Which is a hard thing to do. Because no one can see what we see, and no one can grow up with what we grew up with."

30. Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgen smiles, wearing a black, shoulder-less dress with a thick, black cat-eye look
Jean Baptiste Lacroix / WireImage

Vanessa Hudgens is of Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, French, Irish, and Native American heritage. In a 2011 interview with Reuters, Hudgens talked about how she sees her mixed identity as a positive: "I wasn’t Latin enough or Asian enough or Caucasian enough."

She continued, “I’m never going to be anything enough because I’m different things,” Hudgens said. “The one thing I’m really blessed with is my various ethnic backgrounds."

31. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

The Rock smiling as he wears a blue suit jacket with gold roses on it
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

The Rock is of Black and Samoan heritage. His father is former professional wrestler Rocky Johnson, who was the first Black Georgia heavyweight champion. His maternal grandfather, Peter Maivia, was a Samoan American professional wrestler.

After a Twitter debate regarding how he identifies, Johnson tweeted, "Glad I came across this, and I’ll give you guys some context [and] truth. I identify as exactly what I am — both. Equally proud. Black/Samoan."

32. Chanel Iman

Chanel Iman smiles with her hair straightened and pinned back, in a muted, olive-yellow dress
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Chanel Iman is of Black and Korean heritage. In a 2009 interview with Teen Vogue, Chanel revealed which of her cover shoots her mother — who is also Korean and Black — favored: Korean Vogue.

"This one is really important to my mom," she explained, "My mother was born in Korea, but they didn't accept her back then because she was mid with Black. She was put up for adoption when she was a baby. Now, her daughter is on the cover of Korean Vogue!"

33. Jemaine Clement

Jemaine Clement smiles with his hands clasped behind his back as he wears a black suit and red tie
Todd Williamson / Getty Images

Jemaine Clement is of Māori and European heritage. He's a direct descendant of Wairarapa chief Irāia Te Whāiti, who was a Ngāti Kahungunu leader, farmer, and historian.

In a 2015 interview with Stuff, Clement talked about being mixed race: "I'm part white, but I'm not just white. And I don't think of myself as white, because I wasn't brought up that way. When they say 'white guys' when they're talking about me and Taika [Waititi], they're imagining a completely different life, completely different things. They're imagining this privilege that we didn't have."

He also noted, about the attention People Places Things received for his onscreen "interracial" romance with Regina Hall in the US, "As a mixed-race person, I see race as largely bullshit. Anything I do is interracial! One great thing about New Zealand is 'interracial' doesn't mean anything. We're used to it."

34. Janel Parrish

Janel Parrish wears a bold coral lip and matching blazer with her hair in long, loose waves
Jc Olivera / Getty Images

Janel Parrish is of Chinese, Irish, English, and German heritage. In a 2015 interview with SheKnows, Parrish revealed, "Being a mixed-race actress was very difficult, especially growing up."

She continued, "When you’re younger and you have to fit into a family and you’re of mixed race, you don’t quite fit into the Hollywood look — which is usually the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl next door — and so I would audition for those roles, and they didn’t quite know where to place me."

35. Kristin Kreuk

Kristin Kreuk smiles with her hair down and wears a black turtleneck
Jun Sato / WireImage

Kristin Kreuk is of Chinese and Dutch heritage. In a 2017 interview with DC Comics News, Kreuk talked about her experience as a mixed Asian actress: "I started a long time ago, and my first job I played a half-Asian girl, which is my heritage. Which didn’t happen again until I guess Street Fighter? I played my heritage, and then every role after that shut out playing my heritage. So I often played white characters because I have wide eyes, and my hair is actually not the blonde [gestures to her current hair], but my natural hair color is light because I didn’t challenge them in the way that I looked. It didn’t come up as an issue for me. So personally, I didn’t think I felt the limitation for my career.

But I believe there is a strong issue that I have friends who are full-Chinese who really struggle to get their careers off the ground because there just isn’t the roles available. Like if I’m looking for, in Canada, an actress to play my mom: Chinese actress, I guess if she’s young, in her fifties, if she’s the right age, probably in her sixties. They are hard to find. I just don’t think there has been the opportunities available for people.

And I think that is changing and obviously, people like Constance Wu and those guys are really shifting the narrative on that. Even if we’re talking Indian, Aziz Ansari. I think what they are doing is really important. And in Canada, it’s still a big issue. I don’t know, apart from Kim’s Convenience [a Canadian comedy], I don’t think we have a lot available. And I think stuff like this helps — making sure the characters [are authentic] for me now, I won’t play outside of being mixed race. Because I have the opportunity to do it, and that will help slowly."

36. Karrueche Tran

Karrueche Tran smiles with a bold, red lip and her hair slicked back while earing a reflective silver dress
Amy Sussman / Getty Images

Karrueche Tran is of Black and Vietnamese heritage. In a 2015 interview with Jet Magazine, she said, "I’m all for diversity and anything multicultural. I’m half Black and half Vietnamese and grew up very diverse. I had an Asian godmother and Korean best friends, so being a Black actor and being involved in the industry is amazing.

I would love to be able to contribute to the community of African American actors. We need more of them out there, just period. People look at me and ask, 'What are you?' and I tell them Black and Vietnamese, and they think that’s really cool. I love and am happy that I’m able to bridge these two cultures."

37. Kimiko Glenn

Kimiko Glenn wears a deep-cut, coral dress with ruched-shoulder, and her hair in a pony tail while her bangs frame her face
Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

Kimiko Glenn is of Japanese, Scottish, Irish, and German heritage. In a 2018 interview with IndieWire, Glenn talked about she has had more opportunities in voice acting than acting: "It opens up the whole voice-over world to me because you can’t see my face. I get to express myself however I want."

She continued, "Being biracial in this industry is kind of an interesting thing. I’ve always been hyperaware of that because I’ve been told so many times you’re not Asian or white enough."

38. Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Mark-Paul Gosselar with his hair slicked back and a beard, wearing a suit
Steve Granitz / WireImage

Mark-Paul Gosselaar is of German, Dutch Jewish, and Indonesian heritage. In a 2019 interview with Newsweek, MPG was asked if his own interracial experiences helped him bring depth to his TV family on Mixed-ish:

"Being someone who is mixed, I never had to think about it until it was brought up, because of the way I looked. I was arguably America's favorite white boy at one point, and it's like, 'Wait, that guy is mixed?' It's one of those things that because of the way I looked I didn't have to deal with it. It's a conversation I have had and I do have with my kids because they are—as well—mixed."

39. Hannah Simone

Hannah Simone wears a jeweled black dress with a high collar and her hair down in slight waves
Jerod Harris / Getty Images

Hannah Simone is of Indian, Greek Cypriot, Italian, and German heritage. When explaining her connection to Indian culture in a 2019 interview with Byrdie, Simone said:

"I know very little about Indian culture because my dad is the most American dad in the world. My dad wears head-to-toe denim; he cooks carbonara for dinner; he tells really weird dad jokes…he’s a dad; he’s just an American dad that happens to be South Asian. My mom, who’s British, loves India. So any beauty tips I have from India came via my British mother."

Did you know all these celebrities are mixed Asian and/or Pacific Islander? Let us know in the comments! If you're mixed, let us know if you related to any of these experiences below!

Check out how BuzzFeed is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! And follow @buzzfeedapop on Instagram!

BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang

BuzzFeed Daily

Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

Newsletter signup form