Mistaken Identity

Surprising Celebrity Heritages: Steve Jobs, Lea Michele, More (PHOTOS)

Johnny Depp dressed as Tonto in the upcoming ‘Lone Ranger’ remake may look racist, but it turns out Depp is part Cherokee. From Norah Jones to Steve Jobs, see other celebrities with unexpected genes.

Johnny Depp dressed as Tonto in the upcoming ‘Lone Ranger’ remake may look racist, but it turns out Depp is part Cherokee. From Norah Jones to Steve Jobs, see other celebrities with unexpected genes.

Joel Ryan / AP Photo

Johnny Depp

When the first promotional photos surfaced of Johnny Depp dressed as Tonto in the upcoming Lone Ranger remake, the Internet was quick to cry foul. Costumed in black-and-white face paint and feathers, with a stuffed crow perched atop his head, the white Depp in the stereotypical Native American getup seems blatantly racist. Why didn’t they choose a Native American actor? Maybe they did—Depp, shockingly, says he is part Cherokee. From Steve Jobs to Cameron Diaz, see other famous faces with multiracial genes you might not guess.

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Steve Jobs

The late king of technology never knew his father. Because his mother was from a conservative white family, when she found out she was pregnant with her Syrian boyfriend’s baby, she felt pressure to hide the pregnancy from her family and give her child up for adoption. The Apple cofounder and revolutionary businessman was half-Arab, and was raised in an Armenian-American family. Before his death, Jobs’s father reached out to him in the hopes of getting to know his son, but it was too late, and two months later, the Apple icon had died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.

Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Cameron Diaz

Beneath Cameron Diaz’s spunky style and constant giggle is a vibrant heritage. Diaz is half-Cuban—according to an interview with the actress, her father’s family settled in Tampa, Fla., from Cuba after the Spanish-American War.

Dan Steinberg / AP Photo

Chad Michael Murray

One Tree Hill heartthrob Chad Michael Murray has some surprisingly diverse roots: he’s American with both Scottish and Japanese lineage. The Cinderella Story actor is one-fourth Japanese, on his mother’s side.

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Olivia Munn

The Magic Mike actress embraced her Chinese heritage and passion for animal rights when she teamed up with PETA to expose Chinese fur-farm cruelty in a recent ad campaign. The multiracial beauty made headlines when she sported a $30 dress on the red carpet, proving that she is both stylish and resourceful.

Matt Sayles / AP Photo

Lea Michele

It’s already fairly common knowledge that singing and dancing sensation Lea Michele of Glee is of Jewish heritage. But unknown to many are her Spanish roots. Costar Naya Rivera may get all the Latina-inspired plotlines, but Glee’s proud Jewish student with Broadway aspirations is also of Spanish decent.

Charles Sykes / AP Photo

Norah Jones

Soulful crooner Norah Jones is part Indian, but she doesn’t like to speak publicly about her father, Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar. In an interview with Katie Couric, Jones was asked if she considers herself part Indian. The singer replied, “I grew up in Texas with a white mother. I feel very Texan, actually, and New York. New Yorker.” Her dismissive response lit up the Internet and triggered a slew of nasty headlines. But perhaps her half-hearted response had more to do with the fact that Shankar was barely around until she was 18.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

David Gallagher

Fair-skinned, towheaded David Gallagher was a fan favorite on the long-running series 7th Heaven, playing one of seven children born into a middle-class white family. But looks can be deceiving: Gallagher is half-Cuban.

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Sara Paxton

Blue-eyed Aquamarine actress Sara Paxton has played some versatile roles—a mermaid, a sorority girl, a victim of torture—but there’s one part Hollywood won’t give her: a Latina character. Paxton, who is half-Mexican, says her “white girl” looks don’t translate to a typical Latina role. “I’ve gone on auditions and I’ve been like, ‘You know my family’s [Latin] ... I’ve spoken a little bit of Spanish, and they’re just like, ‘Ha ha ha—that’s good!’” she told Latina magazine.

Jordan Strauss / WireImage

Alexis Bledel

Gilmore Girls’s Alexis Bledel shares eerily similar features to her on-screen mother, Lauren Graham. Both have fair skin, deep brown hair, and thin builds, making their relationship pretty convincing. We know the family is supposed to be Irish—it’s hinted at when Lorelai dons an “Everyone Loves an Irish Girl” T-shirt. But it turns out Bledel has more variety in her genes than portrayed on screen: she’s half-Mexican.

Andrew Medichini / AP Photo

Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel’s racial identity is hard to pinpoint, and he’d like to keep it that way. Preferring to call himself “multiracial,” the Fast Five actor has been tight-lipped about his heritage, telling BET.com he’s “Italian and a lot of other things.” Although we can only speculate, a number of sources claim the actor is indeed Italian, along with African-American. But perhaps we shouldn’t even care to know. Diesel himself said in the same interview, “A man of color is being exposed to so many different opportunities. Hopefully, it says something about my acting.”