For many celebrities, California is where their story begins and ends. Whether they were born in the Golden State or moved in later on, the opportunities here are endless. Iconic actors, legendary musicians, and other inspiring figures call this place their home.
With natural beauty, endless possibilities, and incredible weather, it’s no wonder so many famous people reside in the Golden State. But, you’ll still be surprised to learn the enormity of celebrities born in California. After all, the bar for fame is pretty high.
Famous People Born in California
Born in: Oakland
Kamala Harris became a household name after becoming California’s first female African-American district attorney. Today, she continues to make history by being the first woman and the first woman of color elected as Vice President of America.
The former prosecutor and attorney general is one of the most prolific famous people born in California. Harris never ceases to inspire people worldwide, having secured her spot as one of California’s most famous women in history.
Born in: Long Beach
Ava DuVernay is an influential Californian you should know about. As the director of record-breaking movies, DuVernay has revolutionized the film industry. The California-born celebrity turned heads in 2012 when she became the first Black woman to earn a directing award at the Sundance Film Festival.
DuVernay is also the first Black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Her accomplishments don’t stop there. She’s also the first Black female director to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Though she did not pick up a camera until she was 32, the famous Californian has plenty of other impressive awards and accolades under her belt. DuVernay continues to inspire female directors with every venture and is a prime example of how it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Celebrities born in Los Angeles
Born in: Compton
It comes as no surprise that Kendrick Lamar is a celebrity born in Los Angeles—he has referenced his hometown several times in his songs. The rapper, songwriter, and producer has built a reputation as one of the greatest lyricists and rappers of all time. Lamar’s albums have received great critical acclaim and he’s earned many accolades throughout his career, including 13 Grammy Awards.
In 2015, California State Senator Isadore Hall III honored Lamar by awarding him the 35th Senate District’s Generational Icon Award. It’s safe to say that out of all the famous Californians, Lamar is among the most influential, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Helena Maria Viramontes
Born in: East Los Angeles
Helena Maria Viramontes is a fiction writer credited for being one of the most significant figures in Chicano literature. As a student at Cal State L.A., Viramontes was told she didn’t belong there because she wrote about Latino issues. Despite facing discrimination, Viramontes preserved and continued to stay true to her topics of choice.
Today, she’s one of the most notable celebrities born in California. Viramontes is known for her two novels, Under the Feet of Jesus and Their Dogs Came With Them. She’s also the current Goldwin Smith Professor of English at Cornell University.
Born in: Pasadena
This Los Angeles-born celebrity is a Black writer you should know about. Octavia Butler was a science fiction writer and the recipient of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Sower, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Sadly, Butler didn’t have an easy ride. She struggled for decades when her dystopian novels weren’t in commercial demand. Her works explored themes of Black injustice, women’s rights, and global warming. Besides being a writer, Butler worked as a telemarketer and dishwasher (among other jobs) to earn a living. It wasn’t until around the time she passed that her books began to gain momentum.
Today, Butler’s works continue to maintain their popularity. Her writings are now taught in over 200 colleges and universities nationwide. Butler’s novel Dawn is currently being developed for TV by Ava DuVernay.
Celebrities born in San Diego
Born in: San Diego
Is there anything Mayim Bialik can’t do? This celebrity was born in San Diego and is an actress, author, mother, and neuroscientist. Best known for her acting career, Bialik played the title character in the show Blossom. She later shot to fame for playing Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory. Bialik earned four Emmy nominations and snagged a Critics’ Choice Award for her role as Fowler.
As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, Bialik has plenty of other accomplishments to her name. Alongside her successful acting career, Bialik earned a Ph.D. from UCLA, published two books, and founded a womens’ lifestyle website. Talk about inspiring.
Born in: San Diego
Monique Henderson has been a prodigy from a very young age. As one of the greatest celebrities born in San Diego, Henderson is the most famous female athlete in track and field. She was a gold medalist in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Henderson even set the still-standing American record for 9–10-year-old girls in the 400-meter dash.
The famous Black Californian athlete was inducted into the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame in 2009. Currently, she is the women’s track and field coach at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.
Celebrities born in San Francisco
Born in: San Francisco
Margaret Cho is a woman of many talents. The San Francisco-born celebrity is an actress, comedian, designer, and author. Despite her many achievements, Cho is best known for her stand-up routines. She comedically critiques social and political problems—especially regarding race and sexuality. Among her impressive feats is creating and starring in the sitcom All-American Girl.
Cho also proudly supports LGBT rights. The famous Californian has won awards for her humanitarian efforts in fighting for women, Asian Americans, and LGBT rights. Overall, Cho has made conscious efforts to extend her point of view. She has become a true pioneer in her field.
Born in: San Francisco
There isn’t a single person in the world who hasn’t heard of the legendary Bruce Lee. Out of all the celebrities born in California, Lee is perhaps the most iconic. The Chinese-American martial artist, actor, director, and philosopher is credited with changing the way Asians were presented in American films.
Even though he passed away at the young age of 32, Lee left a legacy behind that influences the industry to this day. Countless notable figures have cited him as an inspiration, including Jackie Chan, Olivia Munn, Steve Aoki, and Stephen Curry.
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