Jamaicans are known for their adventurous spirits and following their dreams wherever it takes them, therefore, it is no surprise to discover that there are celebrities who possess the best of both worlds with their foreign birth and Jamaican ancestry.
Here is a list of your favorite celebs who have proudly come from parents or grandparents who were born and raised in humble Jamaica, a third world country.
Naomi Campbell, Actress and Supermodel, was born on May 22, 1970 to a Jamaican mother and a Jamaican -Chinese father. She was raised in London, England where she was discovered by a fashion executive while shopping. She is the first multi-racial model to adorn the cover of French Vogue. Her acting credits include appearing on “The Cosby Show”, “Coyote Ugly” and music videos by Michael Jackson, George Michaels and Jay-Z. She is currently part owner of the Fashion Cafe’ and performs charitable works through organizations such as the Dalai Lama Foundation and Unesco.
Sheryl Lee Ralph, Actress, was born on December 30, 1956 in Waterbury, Connecticut to an African father and a Jamaican mother. She was raised in Mandeville, Jamaica and Long Island, New York. A graduate of Uniondale High School in Hempstead, New York and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Ms. Ralph received notoriety in the broadway production of “Dream Girls” in 1982. She has also starred in movies such as “Mighty Quinn”, “Oliver & Company”, “Mistress” and “The Flinstones”. She is currently married to Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes and has two children.
Alicia Keys, Singer, Musician and Actress, was born on January 25, 1981 in New York, New York. Her mother Terri Augello, is Irish-Italian and her father, Craig Cook is Jamaican. Ms. Keys began playing piano at the tender age of seven, playing classical compositions such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. At the age of 14, she composed her first song entitled “Butterflyz”. She attended Columbia University, however, later opted to pursue a musical career instead. She has several albums to her credit, such as, “The Diary of Alicia Keys”, “Songs In A Minor” and “Composition in Black and White”. Her acting repretoire incudes, “Shaft”, “Rear View Mirror” and “Dr. Doolittle 2”. She is currently married to Producer Swiss Beatz and has one child.
Wentworth Earl Miller III, Actor, born on June 2, 1972 in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England. His father Earl Miller II is a Lawyer Educator of Jamaican heritage, and his mother Ivy Marie Palm is a Special Education Teacher of Russian-French descent. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York where he atended Midwood High School. While at Midwood, he performed in their annual production of “Sing!” which instigated his desire to act. He later transferred from Midwood and then attended Quaker Valley Senior High School in Pennsylvania. After he graduated High School, he attended Princeton University where he became a Cartoonist for the school’s newspaper. He also joined the “The Princeton Tigertones” where he sang baritone. After attending Princeton he realized he definitely wanted to pursue a performing career. Wentwort Miller is best known for his acting roles in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, “ER” and “Popular”. His movie credits include, “The Human Stain”, “Underworld” and “Prison Break”. He has also appeared in several of Mariah Carey’s music videos. Mr. Miller is currently writing a screenplay in Chicago.
Dianne Abbot, British MP, Actress, Reporter, Broadcaster, Public Speaker and Politician. She was born on September 27, 1953 in Paddington, London, England. The daughter of Jamaican Immigrants who relocated to the United Kingdom. Her father was a Welder and her mother was a Nurse. She attended Harrow County Grammar School for Girls and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge. Ms. Abbot is the first Caribbean woman to be elected to British Parliament. She is the Founder of “Black Women Mean Business” and helped to form The Black Caucus within the Labour Party. Her career in Parliament includes serving on the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee and The Foreign Affairs Select Committee. She has also been instrumental in establishing a committee to investigate gun related crimes. Her motivation has come from prolific words spoken by her father, who told her, “In order to get on, you have to be not just as good as white people, but better.” Some of her speaking engagements include Ivy League Universities such as Harvard. Ms. Abbot is divorced and has one child.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 21, 1964 to Jamaican parents. She is known as the authentic voice of Brooklyn. She received a scholarship to Oberlin College and a Honorary Doctorate Law Degree from St. Francis College. She has been the recipient of the prestigious APPAL/Sloan fellowship in Public Policy and Policy Analysis. She was elected to Congress in 2006, to the 11th Congressional District, serving Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush and Borough Park. She is currently in the 112th Congress and sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security and House Committee on Small Business. Her work for the House Education and Labour Committees has earned her the name of “After School Hero”.
“Downtown Julie Brown”,Dancer, Actress and Former MTV VJ, was born on August 27, 1959 in London, England to a Jamaican father, Valentine Brown and a White, English mother, Doreen Brown. Because her father was a member of the Royal Air Force, she travelled all over the world where she discovered dancing. In 1979, she was a participant in the Disco Dancing Championships, Dancer of “Top of the Pops”, member of dance troop “Zoo” and appeared on the British childrens’ program “Crackerjack”. In the 80’s she gained notoriety for being the effervescebt host of Club MTV, promoting her famous phrase, “Wubba! Wubba! Wubba!”
Her acting credits include appearances in movies such as, “Spy Hard”, “Spring Break ’83”, “The Weird Al Show”, “Ride”, “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Ru-Paul’s Drag U”. Ms. Brown is currently married to Producer and CEO of Vision Motor Corporation, Martin Schuermann. They have one child and reside in California.
Tyson Craig Beckford, Supermodel and Actor was born on December 19, 1970. His father is Jamaican of Panamanian descent, and his mother is Jamaican Chinese. He was raised in Rochester, New York where he attended Bay Trail Middle School and Pittsford Mendon High School. In 1992, he was discovered by a New York City Talent scout. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited by Ralph Lauren to represent the Company’s Male Line of Polo sportswear. He has appeared on shows such as, “I’m a Celebrity! Get Me Outta Here!” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. He has been an ardent supporter of the National RESPECT! Campaign against Domestic Violence, and the voice of Giverespect.org website. Mr. Beckford is currently the host of “Make Me a Supermodel”. He resides in New Jersey with his 10 year old son.
Corbin Bleu Reives, Actor and Singer, born on February 21, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jamaican father, David Reives and an Italian mother, Martha Reives. His father David Reives is an actor, therefore Mr. Bleu dropped the name Reives, so there would not be any confusion between his father’s career and his. He started his acting career at the age of two years old, appearing in advertisements such as, Nabisco, Hasbro, and Life Cereal. Corbin Bleu attended the Preparatory School Medical Program at Johns Hopkins University. He is best known for his role as Chad in “Walt Disney’s High School Musical”. His first album, “Another Side” was released in May 2007 by Hollywood Records.
Karim Dule’ Hill, Actor and Tap Dancer, otherwise known as Dule’ Hill. He was born on May 3, 1975 in Orange, New Jersey, to Jamaican Parents. His father is an Entrepreneur and his mother an Educator. His dancing career began at three years old when he enrolled at the Wildey School of Dance in East Orange, New Jersey. He also attended Sayreville War Memorial High School and Seton Hall University. His first acting role was on Broadway in “The Tap Dance Kid”, where he was Savion Glover’s Understudy. After he gained more experience, he appeared in other musicals such as, “Shenandoah”, “Little Rascals” and “Black and Blue”. His rise to fame occurred when he played the starring role in “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk” on Broadway. His film appearances include “Sugar Hill”, “She’s All That”, “The Ditch Digger’s Daughter”. Mr. Hill is most remembered for his starring role on the T.V. show “Psych” along with James Roday. He is married to Canadian, Actress, Model and Dancer, Nicole Lyn.
Harold George Belafonte, Jr., Calypso singer, American Singer, Songwriter, Actor and Social Activist was born on March 1, 1927 at Lying-in Hospital, Harlem, New York. His mother, Melvina Love was a Housekeeper of Jamaican descent. His father, Harold George Belafonte. Sr. was from Martinique and worked as a Chef in the Royal Navy. Harry Belafonte lived in Jamaica with his Jamaican grandmother for eight years of his life. After returning to America, he attended George Washington High School and then joined the Navy, where he served in World War II. He attended a performance by Sidney Poitier which lead him to the decison of becoming an actor. He then enrolled in acting classes. His musical career also began in the club where he performed in order to raise the funds for acting classes. Mr. Belafonte has become famous for songs such as, “Matilda”, “Calypso” and the famous “Banana Boat Song”. He has recorded songs in several genres, including Blues, Show Tunes, Folk and American Standards. His T.V. and film appearances are, “The Tonight Show with Belafonte”, “The Muppet Show”, “Buck and The Preacher”, “Uptown Saturday Night” and “White Man’s Burden”. He has been a Civil Rights Activist, supporting the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and a Humanitarian who has loaned his celebrity status to help organizations such as The Campaign against HIV/Aids and the Cancer Society for Prostrate Cancer Awareness. He is currently a member of the Trans Africa Forum and The Institute of Policy Studies. He is married to Pamela Belafonte and has four children.
Christopher “Kid” Reid, Actor, Comedian and Rapper. He was born in the Bronx, New York to a Jamaican father and a Irish mother. He attended Bronx High School of Science and graduated from Lehman College. He is better known as part of the 80’s musical, hip-hop duo called Kid ‘N’ Play. He has worked as a Stand-Up Comedian, appearing on shows such as, “Your Big Break”, “Martin”, “Sister, Sister” and ”It’s Showtime at the Apollo”. Recently, he has written the theme song for “Real time with Bill Maher” and has made guest appearances on “Celebcadabra”, “The Dawn and Drew Show” ”Comics Unleashed” and playing the role of “The Rhymer” on Nickelodeon’s “Supah Ninjas”.
Ben Gordon, Member of the NBA and Professional Basketball Player, He was born on April 4, 1983 in London, England to Jamaican parents. He migrated to the United States as an infant, where he resided in Mount Vernon, New York. He attended Mount Vernon High School and the University of Connecticut. While playing basketball at the University of Connecticut, he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the 2004 NBA Draft. He played for the Chicago Bulls from 2004-2009, representing the United States in the 2003 Pan American Games. His career highlights include, being the NBA Sixth Man of the year in 2005, NBA All Rookie in 2004 and NCAA Champion in 2004. In 2009 Ben Gordon signed a five year deal with the Detroit Pistons, continuing his role as a high scoring athlete. Recently, he announced that he intends to represent Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.
Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr, also known as “Busta Rhymes”, Rapper, Producer and Actor. He was born on May 20, 1972 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York to Jamaican parents Geraldine Green and Trevor Smith. He attended George Westinghouse Information and Technology High School, where some of his classmates were Jay-Z, DMX and The Notorious B.I.G. He later transferred to Uniondale High School and graduated in 1990. Busta Rhymes became famous with his first song, “Woohah! Got You all In Check!” from his album, “The Coming”. He followed up his success with two more albums, “When Disaster Strikes” and “Will Reign Supreme”. To date, Busta Rhymes has produced nine albums and is currently working on his tenth, called, “The Chemo”. He has received six nominations for BET Hip Hop Awards and nine Grammy Nominations. His most recent endeavour includes recording a song entitled “Drummer Boy” on Justin Beiber’s album, “Under The Mistletoe”. He lives in New York and has three children.
Kim Victoria Fields, Actress, born on May 12, 1969 in New York City, New York. She recently learned of her Jamaican heritage. Her mother is actress, Chip Fields. Kim Fields attended Burbank High School and Pepperdine University. She acted in school plays and got her first starring role in 1979, playing the lovable “Tootie” on “Facts of Life”. Her other acting parts include appearances on “Living Single” and “Good Times”. She is currently participating in stage work, and directing movies produced by her production company, Victory Productions. Kim Fields is divorced and has one child.
Tonya Maxine Williams, Canadian Actress, Writer, Producer and Director was born in London, England on July 12, 1958 to Jamaican parents. As a young child she lived in London and Jamaica, when she turned four years old her mother and her migrated to Ontario, Canada. In her teen years, living in Canada, she modeled for Eaton’s Catalogues and danced on a television series called, “Boogie!” She was also crowned, “Miss Black Ontario”. She achieved national notoriety in the daytime drama, “The Young and The Restless”, playing Dr. Olivia Barber Winters from May 1990 – Present. Ms. Willliams’s career highlights include being a host on the Canadian Childrens’ Show , “Polka Dot Door”, appearing in shows and movies such as, ”Check It Out” ”Generations” and “A Very Brady Christmas”. She has also won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding actress in a Daytime Drama Series. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Founder and President of the Toronto Reel World Film Festival, Contributing Writer and Executive Producer of “The Tonya Lee Williams Gospel Jubilee”.
After reading this enthralling list of amazing Public Profiles, I am sure many people will be astounded to find out that the most dynamic and intriguing people can bloom from the most ordinary folks or unpretentious places. Their successes only affirms that you can take any man or woman out of their country, but you can’t take their upbringing and the willingness to achieve from them. One thing is for certain, that with God’s favour and a keen sense of self a person can go from the abyss of life straight to the top.
(Biographical information collected from Wikipedia)