Monday, January 14, 2013

Betcha Didn't Know...?

Some of the most notable names from the dawn of film, television and music are of Latino descent. Here are some of them.

In this edition, Latinos who are also of Asian descent.

Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz
(1950- ) was born in San José, San José, Costa Rica to a Chinese-Costa Rican father and a Costa Rican mother. He is a mechanical engineer, physicist and former NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of seven Space Shuttle missions, making him the record holder as of 2008 for the most spaceflights (a record he shares with Jerry L. Ross). He is currently president and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company. He was the third Latin American (after Cuba's Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez and Mexico's Rodolfo Neri Vela), the second astronaut of Asian descent (after Vietnam's Phạm Tuân, not including Russian cosmonauts) to go into space. He is also the first naturalized U.S. citizen to become an astronaut and was inducted into  the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame. He emigrated to the U.S. while still a teenager, graduating high school in Hartford, Connecticut. He then earned with a B.S. degree at the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew aboard his first Space Shuttle mission in 1986. His last mission was in 2002, where he executed three spacewalks. He retired from NASA in 2005. In addition, he is currently (as of this writing) an Adjunct Professor in Physics and Astronomy at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is active in environmental protection and raising awareness about climate change, notably in his role in Odyssey 2050: The Movie, in which he encourages young people to get motivated about environmental issues. In his native Costa Rica, he has been decorated multiple times and named Honor Citizen by the national legislature. The Costa Rican National High Technology Center (CeNAT), among other institutions, is named after him. One of his daughters, Sonia Chang-Díaz, is a state senator of Massachusetts.

Tyson Beckford (1970- ) is a fashion model, television host and actor, best known as a Ralph Lauren Polo model. His paternal grandparents were of Afro-Jamaican and Panamanian descent, while his maternal grandparents were of Afro-Jamaican and Chinese-Jamaican descent. He was born in The Bronx, New York City, New York and grew up in Rochester, New York. In 1992, he was recruited to hip hop magazine The Source by a talent scout. He was later recruited by Ralph Lauren as the front model for the company's Polo line of male sportswear. He was named "Man of the Year" in 1995 by the cable television music channel VH1 and one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People magazine. He is represented by Soul Artist Management in New York City and D'management Group in Milan. He was ranked at #38 on VH1's 40 Hottest Hotties of the '90s. For two seasons, he co-hosted the modeling contest "Make Me a Supermodel" on the television channel Bravo. As an actor, some of his film credits include Zoolander, Biker Boyz [sic] and Into The Blue.

Kirk Acevedo (1971- ) is an actor of Puerto Rican and Chinese descent. He is primarily known for his work on television for the portrayals of Miguel Álvarez in the HBO series "OZ", Joe Toye in the miniseries Band of Brothers and FBI Agent Charlie Francis in the science-fiction series "Fringe". His best known films are The Thin Red Line and Dinner Rush. Acevedo's parents were both born in New York City, and lived in Brooklyn where both their sons, Richard and Kirk, were born. The family moved to the Bronx, where Kirk and his brother were raised. Since childhood, Acevedo has shown an interest in acting; he performed before his family in improvised shows. He graduated from the famed LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York at Purchase. He auditioned shortly thereafter for "OZ" and his career his taken off. He is continuously working in film and television.

Chino Moreno, born Camilo Wong Moreno (1973- ), is a singer-songwriter-musician. He is the lead singer and guitarist of the alternative metal band Deftones. He was born in Sacramento, California to a Spanish-Mexican father and a Spanish-Chinese mother. His maternal grandfather's heritage is where he got his nickname. He co-founded the group Deftones in 1988 with high school buddies. They released their first album, Adrenaline, on Madonna's record label (Maverick Records) in 1995. That album went platinum. Of their seven albums, three have gone platinum and one have gone gold. In addition to his work with Deftones, he has done side projects with Team Crosses, Crosses and Palm, as well as guest appearances on the albums of other artists. He and Deftones can be seen performing their song "Teething" in a scene from the movie The Crow: City of Angels.

Additional Latinos who also have Asian descent include Puerto Rican-Filipino singer Bruno Mars; Puerto Rican-Chinese-African American singer Kelis; Costa Rican-Chinese actor-singer-dancer Harry Shum, Jr., Afro-Panamanian and Indo-Trinidadian actor-singer Tatyana Ali; Venezuelan-German-Japanese actor-comedian-musician Fred Armisen; and all the children of Spaniard singer Julio Iglesias and Filipina model and journalist Isabel Preysler (Enrique Iglesias, Chabeli Iglesias and Julio Iglesias, Jr., shown above at right, from left to right).

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