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 June 7

by Carolina

A recent United States Census report estimates that 1.6 million U.S. residents are Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, which still make up less than one percent of the nation’s population.

Since the group is so underrepresented, there may be some confusion as to who identifies as Pacific Islander. According to the Census, Pacific Islanders are “those having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands,” so this can include individuals of Fijian, Guamanian, Samoan, Hawaiian, Northern Mariana Islander, Palauan, Tongan and Tahitian descent. And remember, people who live in Hawaii aren’t necessarily Native Hawaiian (a.k.a people indigenous to the Big Island).

Luckily, there are a handful of highly talented Pacific Islanders in the media — and you might be surprised to discover that big, A-list names you know identify as such. Learn more about them below, and be sure to check out other actors and celebrities of other diverse backgrounds in Hollywood, including famous Asian women and Hispanic artists.

1

Nicole Scherzinger

Born in Honululu, Hawaii, Nicole Scherzinger is Native Hawaiian. The former lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls was born to a Filipino father and a mother of Ukrainian, Polish and Native Hawaiian ancestry. Right now, she’s one of four judges on FOX’s The Masked Singer, but she also served as judge on The X Factor US and UK.

2

Jason Momoa

Best known as Justice League’s Aquaman (among several other big screen roles), Jason Momoa identifies as Native Hawaiian and Polynesian. His father was Native Hawaiian and Samoan, but he was brought up by his mother, who is of German, Irish and Native American ancestry. The A-list Hollywood actor was born in Honolulu Hawaii, moved to Iowa for most of his childhood and went back to Hawaii for college. He often visits Hawaii and publicly advocates for the preservation of the dormant volcano on the Big Island, Mauna Kea.

3

Auli’i Cravalho

The singer and actress was discovered by an Oahu casting agent at a charity competition before landing her debut role for Disney’s hit movie, Moana. Auli’i Cravalho was born and raised in Kohala, Hawaii, so she’s Native Hawaiian — but she’s also of Chinese, Irish, Portuguese and Puerto Rican descent. Since Moana, Auli’i has lent her talents in big screen titles like Ralph Breaks the Internet and All Together Now.

4

Dwayne Johnson

Also known at The Rock, actor Dwayne Johnson was actually a college football player and a professional WWE wrestler before landing his first movie in The Mummy Returns in 2001, so he’s been in the spotlight for a good chunk of his life. He was born in California to professional wrestler Rocky Johnson, who is Black and Nova Scotian, and actress Ata Johnson, who is of Samoan descent. Dwayne is still acting, whether he’s playing a lead role in a movie like Doc Savage, lending his voice in DC Super Pets or portraying his dad in the TV series, Young Rock.

5

Dinah Jane Hansen

Dinah Jane Hansen is of Tongan Samoan, Fijian and Danish descent. She was one of the original members of Fifth Harmony before the girl group broke up in March 2018. Shortly after, she released her debut single, Bottled Up,” in September 2018 and in April 2019, she released her debut EP, Dinah Jane 1, known for its R&B and hip-hop style. In 2020, Dinah Jane announced on Instagram that she was going on tour, but exact dates and details haven’t been released yet.

6

Keanu Reeves

To this date, Keanu Reeves has over 100 actor credits to his name, most of them being movie roles. His latest projects include playing Ted in Bill & Ted Face the Music, voicing Sage in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run and playing himself in Netflix and Good Universe’s Always Be My Maybe. Keanu was born in Lebanon, but his dad was Native Hawaiian, British, Portuguese and Chinese. The actor’s first name actually means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian.

7

Taika Waititi

He’s acted for several years, but these days, Taika Waititi focuses on writing and directing. In recent years, he’s written popular titles like What We Do In The Shadows and Wellington Paranormal and directed Thor, Ragnarok. He’s from New Zealand and was born to a Maori father. His mother was of Ashkenazi Jewish, Irish, Scottish and English descent.

8

J Boog

This reggae singer is the genius behind the TikTok viral dance and song “Let’s Do It Again,” which was actually released back in 2011. Born of Samoan descent, J Boog was born and raised in California, but he continues to be a top reggae artist in Hawaii, where he lives now to pursue his music career. To this day, he’s releasing music — his latest single is called “Free of Dem.”

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Original posted at www.goodhousekeeping.com

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