Celebrities with Bajan heritage
LL Cool J (centre) has Bajan roots as well as (clockwise from top left) Gwyneth Palthrow, Doug E. Fresh, Lamman Rucker, Meagan Good, Grandmaster Flash, Cuba Gooding with his dad and brother Omar, and Stacey Dash.
Rihanna has made Barbados famous, but she’s not the only celebrity with roots or connections to the Caribbean. There are a host of Hollywood stars who [are of] Barbadian descent. Some of them will surprise you.
I know what you’re thinking. Stacey Dash is clearly a mix of a lot of things, but the actress and even singer (random) is repping Barbados. Born in the Bronx, she’s the child of a Bajan father and a Mexican and Native American mother (Aztec and Blackfoot Native American). Definitely an interesting mix culturally, but then again, she’s an interesting lady.
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
I’m sure you already know that Cuba Gooding, Jr. is the son of Main Ingredient singer, Cuba Gooding, Sr., as well as the brother of actor Omar Gooding (remember him from Baby Boy?). But did you know that they’re all of Barbadian descent? Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s grandfather was a native of Barbados, who later left the island to go to Cuba. His time in Cuba is actually how his son, and grandson acquired their first name.
How can you do a list like this and leave out the Bajan diva that is Rihanna? The famed pop and R&B singer was born in St Michael. Before moving to New York City (NYC) in 2005 after signing a six-album deal with Def Jam. Ri-Ri used to sell clothes with her father, formed a music group with a couple girlfriends, and was also involved in the cadet corps. You can still find her boosting her homeland’s image hard, getting down for Kadooment Day, and making trips each year to kick it with friends and family.
LL Cool J
Lick your lips one time for the super fine LL Cool J! The rapper and actor is actually the grandson of a Barbadian native who came to the United States to make a better life for his family. Though his grandfather was supportive of his endeavours in hip-hop music, he wasn’t initially talking about buying turntables for Mr James Todd Smith.
“Yes my family’s from Barbados and my grandfather’s real cheap. Anyone who knows Caribbean people knows they’re very cheap, you know. He didn’t want to buy turntables. That wasn’t his thing soooo, he was saying no, no, no, no, no.” He wasn’t so cheap after all, because his grandfather wound up getting him a turntable to keep him out of trouble.
Surprise, much? Oh, but it’s true. Her great-grandmother, on her mother Blythe Danner’s side, whose name was Rosamund, was actually born in Barbados. However, she left with her sister at the age of 18 for New York in search of a better life and more work opportunities, as competition for work among poor whites and blacks was fierce in Barbados. Paltrow’s great-great-grandfather was from St Michael, and lived in Bridgetown. She actually just recently found out about her link to Barbados through the show, Who Do You Think You Are?, and visited to see some sites and sounds with her kids.
Born in St James, singer Shontelle is another big name in Barbados. Coincidentally, she participated in the cadet corps just like Rihanna and was actually Ri-Ri’s drill sergeant. Though nowhere near as huge in fame as Rihanna, Shontelle has had great success in the music industry with songs like Impossible and T-Shirt.
Grandmaster Flash, born Joseph Saddler, was actually born and bred in Barbados, make that Bridgetown to be specific. The iconic DJ migrated to the Bronx with his family and was deep into the music scene early on. The record collection of his father, mixed with a lot of Caribbean joints and records taking over in Black America back in the day, had a major impact on his desire to DJ.
Doug E. Fresh
This brother is just on all of our lists these days. Doug E. Fresh, renowned beatboxer, producer and rapper, was born in Barbados too. Born Douglas E. Davis, he grew up in Church Christ, and then came to New York City with his family as a young lad.
The actress, like many of us, is mixed with a lot of things, but her grandfather is from Barbados. As homegirl put it herself after being told she looked “exotic,” she said, “My mother’s mother is Jewish and African, so I guess that would be considered Creole. My mother’s father was Cherokee Indian and something else. My dad’s mother’s was Puerto Rican and Black, and his father was from Barbados.”
Fine actor Lamman Rucker is also repping his Barbadian roots these days. The grandson of Ebenzer Ray, acclaimed columnist, Ray was born and raised in Barbados, and is the father of Lamman’s mother. The actor has made the trek to Barbados a regular one, almost like a second . . . or third home (he’s got homes in New York and Los Angeles), and has taken many opportunities to learn more about his grandfather and his family’s roots.
As it was put in a profile of him by NationNews.com, “Lamman hasn’t given up trying to find out about his past. He has visited the island four times already and will be back to sort out his family tree and probably his dual citizenship.” Now you have another reason to love this man if you didn’t already!
Adapted from MadameNoire.com