In honor of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, we're giving a shout-out to our favorite celebs who are of Puerto Rican descent. This parade is particularly important considering how the Trump administration has abandoned Puerto Rican after Hurricane Maria, which killed over 4,000 people. So today, we celebrate the strength of the Puerto Rican people.
He was the spark who lit the nation's obsession with Latin music in the late 1990s, and one of the only artists to endure. The "Livin' La Vida Loca" singer got his start in the long-running boy band Menudo and went on to sell more than 60 million albums worldwide. His announcement in 2010 that he is a "fortunate homosexual man" did nothing to quell his popularity, and his subsequent 2011 album was his highest-selling since his 1999 debut.
Jennifer Lopez is perhaps the most famous puertoriquena to walk the earth, and proudly waves the flag of the island any chance she gets. Born in the Bronx, J.Lo has been named the Grand Marshall of the city's famous Puerto Rico Day Parade several times.
Spike Lee discovered then-dancer and choreographer Rosie Perez in a club and immediately cast her in his seminal film Do the Right Thing. Before gaining fame as an actress, Brooklyn-born Perez, whose parents are native Puerto Rican, was a Soul Train dancer and choreographed moves for her fellow islander Jennifer Lopez when she was a Fly Girl.
Born and raised in Harlem, Anthony is the Jay Z of Puerto Rico. One of the top-selling salsa artists of all time, a successful producer, songwriter and a part-owner of the Miami Dolphins, he came front and center in the American media when he married Jennifer Lopez. The longtime pals-turned-lovers were Latin music royalty with an empire that neared one billion before they divorced but they are still friends and great co-parents.
As headliner of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Lisa Velez was a pioneer among Latin women in pop. Plus, Cult Jam was one of the first freestyle groups to emerge from the 1980s New York rap movement. Check out one of her classic moments above.
Born Christopher Lee Rios in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, Big Pun was one of the first Latino artists to truly break through to the hip hop mainstream. Ranked #19 on The Source's 50 Greatest Lyricists of All Time, Pun frequently included references to his Puerto Rican upbringing. Morbidly obese for most of his life, Pun died in 2000 of a heart attack, at age 28.
With looks that are part James Dean, part Brad Pitt and part crushed-out cigarette, bad boy Benicio stands out for showing his acting chops in complex roles. Born in Santurce, near San Juan to parents who were beloved community leaders (his dad was known as the "lawyer to the poor"), del Toro is only the third Puerto Rican to ever win an Oscar, taking home a statuette for Stephen Soderbergh's Traffic.
Sometimes known as Noreaga, this Puerto Rican rapper got his start when he met fellow rapper Capone in prison. The ex-convicts partnered up when they were released from the clink in 1996, but Noreaga was forced to go solo when Capone was arrested again in 1997. The move worked out well for Queens-based N.O.R.E., who worked with The Neptunes and Swizz Beatz on his solo record, which went platinum.
As Claire Danes' best friend Ricky on 1990s hit drama My So-Called Life, Cruz was one of the first openly-gay teenage characters on television. Calling on his own struggle coming out to his conservative Puerto Rican parents, Cruz became an advocate for queer youth of color.
This "proud Latina" made history in 2009 when she was the first Hispanic person, and only the third woman, to be nominated to the Supreme Court. She didn't get her robes without a fight, though, and her nomination was held up by Republicans who felt her inclination as a woman and a second-generation Puerto Rican would affect her judicial objectivity.
Before there was Jennifer Lopez, Rita Moreno was the original quadruple-threat entertainer from Puerto Rico. The singer, dancer and actress (best known for her role in the film adaptation of West Side Story) is the first Latino, and one of the few people ever, to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony and an Oscar.
Born Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez in San Juan, this reggaeton star became the face of a new style of music that swept radio stations and top 40 lists in the mid-2000s. His hit single "Gasolina" became a club staple and earned Daddy Yankee an MTV Video Music Award.
We send much love to everyone celebrating Puerto Rico today. Wepa!