How Ya Going? 9 of Our Favorite Celebs Of Trinidadian Descent (There’s Some Surprises!)

July 24, 2012  |  

We’ve covered many people of a wide variety of backgrounds on our site, but it has come to my attention lately that yes, everyone and their mommas…and their momma’s mommas, are of Trinidadian descent. From reality TV stars, to musicians, actors, famous bloggers and more, there are many folks that are American and of Trinidadian descent, or who were born and bred on the island. We thought we would showcase a few folks, and while not everyone is literally a “favorite” of ours, we thought we’d show love anyway. Be ready to click!

Jackée Harry

Everyone’s favorite annoying yet voluptuous TV neighbor from “227,” Jackée Harry has been making a name for herself as an actress since her early days of acting on stage and since her first TV role on the show, “Another World” in the early ’80s. But out of all the things we know about her, including that her ex-husband has a whip-worthy mane of hair, did you know that Harry was of Trinidadian descent? Born Jacqueline Yvonne Harry, her mother is straight from Trinidad and her father was African American. Now that you know, spread the word…

Romany Malco

Mr. Malco is too cute! The actor caught our attention in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but caught everyone else’s eye in Think Like A Man, and he actually got his start in the industry as a rapper. Malco formed a group called R.M.G. (later changed to College Boyz), and even dropped a single called “Victim of the Ghetto” and an album that charted. Before all that of course, Malco was born in Brooklyn, with his parents coming from Trinidad. He even has extended relatives from Venezuela.

Nia Long

She’s said it many a time, but if you missed the memo, actress Nia Long is actually Afro-Trinidadian, as her mother, Talita, is from the island. While pregnant, Long could actually be seen with her family in Trinidad, snapping photos in Port-of-Spain and visiting extended family. Her favorite things about visiting Trinidad? As she told The Trinidad Express:  “We enjoyed lots of real coconut ice cream every evening from St James, and of course I love curry, so I had rotis every day! The food from Clyde’s Kitchen was amazing, so as you say here: I ate my belly full!”

Alfonso Ribeiro

Though he played the Bel-Air bred gold-spoon-in-the-mouth Carlton Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Ribeiro once said that people were always surprised to know that both of the actor’s parents are from Trinidad and Tobago. His grandfather is even the late famous calypso singer and composer, Roaring Lion (aka, Rafael de Leon).

Karyn Parsons

And speaking of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Karyn Parsons, who played Hilary Banks on the same show, is also an American of Trinidadian descent. Her mother is a black Trinidadian while her father is a white French-Canadian fella. I wonder if she and Ribeiro got together and discussed the realities of growing up with Trini parents. A small world indeed…

Patrice Grell Yursik, aka, AfroBella

Aside from knowing a lot about hair and beauty, Patrice Grell Yursik, the creator of the popular blog, Afrobella.com, knows a great deal about Trinidad. Why? Well, because the blogger was born and raised there of course! In an interview with Islandistas.com, Yursik spoke about the things she misses most about Trinidad (especially now that she lives in Chicago–known for bitter cold winters):

“I miss the food, the music, and the diversity of Trini culture. I miss the melting pot. I miss standing with a bake and shark in my hand at that big table of condiments, while hearing the crash of the waves off Maracas Bay. I miss Trini Christmas and my family’s Old Year’s Night party. I miss Sunday lunch and the rituals of home.”

Stokely Carmichael

Just a quick history lesson for you if you weren’t aware. The late black activist and former leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), born Kwame Ture, was actually born and raised for most of his childhood in Trinidad. Port-of-Spain to be specific. He eventually moved to Harlem at the age of 11 to reunite with his parents, but before he could, Carmichael actually got his education at the well-known Tranquility School.

The Female Rappers:

Foxy Brown

Must be something in the water! One of the first female rappers to rep Trinidad hard, Foxy Brown is the daughter of two Trinidadian parents. Her father was allegedly both Trini and Asian, actually. Since she’s came out in the ’90s, Inga Marchand has expressed her love for the island (“My parents are from Trinidad. I’m Trinidadian. I’m West Indian. That is the music I grew up on…I am the only Trini chick that can kick yard s**t.), even wanting to be a youth ambassador for Trinidad: “I’ve forged many political alliances and I’m well-versed, articulate and educated. Beyond just having a vast amount of music industry experience, I am a staunch believer in being the voice for our young Trinidadian people.” Well, alright.

Nicki Minaj

Onika Minaj is actually one of the few ladies from the rap “elite” who was born in Trinidad, Saint James to be specific, which is a suburb in Port-of-Spain. At the age of five, Minaj’s mother (who was already in the U.S. at the time), came back to visit and took Minaj back to Queens with her. As she’s grown up and been in the spotlight, Minaj has showed love to Trinidad, performing there, featuring the island in her MTV special, “My Time Now,” and even filming her most recent video there, “Pound the Alarm.”

Lola Monroe

The first lady of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang crew, yes Monroe is Trini. Or to be specific, she’s half Ethiopian, and half Trinidadian. Though she was born in Ethiopia, her father is Trinidadian, and she was raised in Washington, D.C.

Karlie Reed

As K. Michelle pointed out on the reality show “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” Redd doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, so all the details on her life have to be scraped from a few different places. But what we do know is that Redd was born in NYC but raised with her West Indian family in Trinidad. She goes for the pop, hip-hop and reggae sound with her music, and you can even catch her trying to spit a taste of her own version of the Trini rap sound on the show.

Mike Bibby

A point guard for the New York Knicks, Bibby has been making a name for himself in the league since ’98, and had some of his best years while playing for the Sacramento Kings alongside Chris Webber (even getting to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002 with the team). Bibby was born to a mother from Trinidad and Tobago and an African American father (former NBA player, Henry Bibby).

Heather Headley

And of course, how could we forget Heather Headley? The singer and Tony-Award winning theater actress was born and raised in Trinidad until her teenage years when she moved to Indiana. Before then, she was said to be inspired by the calypso and soca music of her land. “Trinidad is where I learned to sing and to appreciate music. One of the beautiful things about home is that there’s so much music.” She has returned to Trinidad to perform, and is looked at as a huge star to the people.

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  • John Henry

    Alfonso, karyn and Tatyana are of Trinidadian descent.

  • Freeyah

    You forgot Tatyania Ali (spell check) Fresh Prince Wow, I didn’t know about Karen Parsons.

  • Hey Madame N. You mentioned Alfonso and Karyn, but Tatyana Ali is also of Trini descent. The Banks kids were all awesome like that! lol. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bre-Marie

    You all forgot Tatiana Ali, who also has Trini heritage…Fresh Princes was loaded with Trini descendants!

  • JohnJohn Pokenbeans

    ummmm sooo why wasn’t Billy Ocean On the list????

  • R.L

    Gabrielle Reece’s father is from Trinidad

  • bev

    they forgot to mention tatiana ali as well

  • grammarnazi

    “There are some surprises” not “There’s…” 🙂

  • Marie

    He was born Stokely Carmichael and later changed his name to Kuame Ture

  • SCTrini

    Tati Ali has one parent from Trinidad. She goes to Trini every carnival.

  • Proud Mama of 1

    Yall forgot Tatyana Ali – Her Dad is Trinidadian

  • Cee Cee

    Tatyana Ali also has trini parentage. Also TLC’s Chill.

  • Basketball legend, Kareem Abdul Jabbar is also from Trinidad. You forgot him. He is a Trini too.

  • Genet

    Lola Monroe was born in Ethiopia to Ethiopian and Tigray parents. Why are you trying to pass off Malaku Abebe as a Trinidadian?

  • i thought alfonso was domincan ?

  • Tropic_Redbone_QOD

    Stokely Carmicheal!!!! Never would have guessed!!!!

  • Pingback: 9 of Our Favorite Celebs Of Trinidadian Descent | Madame Noire | Black Women’s Lifestyle Guide | Black Hair | Black Love | Massassination2()

  • Adrian Khan (The Soca Warrior)

    Ultimately their all black.And being Trini means nothing if you weren’t born there.

    • Lennard A. Bass

      ….that’s why the headline specifically says “…of Trinidadian descent”, Adrian.

  • Amber Nefertari

    This totally made my day! I am also Trinidadian! Trini fashion blogger reppin! <3

  • oh

    WOW–I didn’t even recognize that was Foxy Brown. . .

  • sassywow

    Tatyana Ali ( Ashley Banks from Fresh Princes) also has some trinidadian decent. Her parents are from Trinidad and Panama

  • angelfaceash1234

    I don’t like karlie redd on the show she seems like a snake

  • I love how people confuse Ethnicity and Nationality.

    • Adrian Khan (The Soca Warrior)

      Don’t tell Dominicans that.

  • CBlenman

    You left out Steve Stoute. Born to Trinidadian parents from Success Village, Laventille.

  • eestoomuch@gmail.com

    erm…get ur facts straight!
    However, Carmichael soon began to distance himself from the Panthers. The Panthers and Carmichael disagreed on whether white activists should be allowed to help the Panthers. The Panthers believed that white activists could help the movement, while Carmichael thought as Malcolm X, saying that the white activists needed to organize their own communities first. In 1969, he and his then-wife, the South African singer Miriam Makeba, moved to Guinea-Conakry where he became an aide to Guinean prime minister Ahmed Sékou Touré and the student of exiled Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah.[27] Makeba was appointed Guinea’s official delegate to the United Nations.[28] Three months after his arrival in Guinea, in July 1969, he published a formal rejection of the Black Panthers, condemning the Panthers for not being separatist enough and their “dogmatic party line favoring alliances with white radicals”.[2]
    It was at this stage in his life that Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Ture to honor the African leaders Nkrumah and Touré who had become his patrons. At the end of his life, friends still referred to him interchangeably by both names, “and he doesn’t seem to mind.”[3]

  • youknow

    The only reason we are in Trinidad is because we were taken there from Africa via slave ships…..we all roe over on the same boat….African Americans and Islanders are the same exact people! The cultures and languages are different but stop acting like they’re a different stock of dna or less African…all of South America is brown/black and full of culture because of the mix of indigeneous peoples and the importation of Africans.

  • Baddvixentype

    is it just me or does Romany Malco’s mustache look crooked??

  • Jen

    How in the world did all three kids in a show about a Black American family end up being Trinidadian?

    • KamJos

      Lol. I’m West Indian and I never ever knew those folks were Trini. Kinda funny once you phrase it like that.

  • Tatiana Ali is trini as well…that’s funny how there were 4 trinis on Fresh Prince

  • KAramel

    You’re missing Tatiana Ali and Aaaron Fresh.

  • Ms. Kai

    Can we get an article on Celebs with Bajan background. I know of LL Cool J, Doug E Fresh, Ryan Leslie. Are there any more?

    • Bajan

      so true!!! soooo many more

    • flyer27

      ryan leslie is trinidadian.

  • truth

    Given the nature of world, most african people and people from islands (or everybody in general) are going to america in search of greener pastures. So, i would not be surprised if we can find americans of every descent in the world. Mostly, given the history of slave trade and slavery, I won’t be surprised to see blacks in America. Just saying. By the way, any black in america is of a different descent since the indigenes of North America are the Indians (apache, incas, etc)

  • Chanda

    Seems like the most beautiful celebrities are from the Islands and Africa.

  • Billy Ocean and Haddaway are of Trinidadian heritage

    • Chanda

      Yes, I was going to bring up Billy Ocean. I know he’s old school but how could they forget him. I always assume Haddaway was from the islands, too.

  • Trini_Rod

    The article is about stars from Trinidad and the video on Karlie Reed can’t be opened from my region, IN TRINIDAD! Thanks a lot Madame Noire!!!

  • Maxine

    This article is interesting but, why doesn’t anyone write an article about Vincy (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) celebs?

    • mochaaa

      Omg thank u. We need some shine too!!

      • flyer27

        i want to know what the vincy accent sound like.

        • TRUTH IS

          A lot of ppl will ask if we are from Jamaica because our dialect sounds similiar….Vincies have n problem understanding jamaician accent. But our accent is still different/unique.

          • flyer27

            for a minute, i couldn’t understand anything jamaicans said. use to play football at college with a few(i de only trini). take a few chat. u over here?

            • TRUTH IS

              Kool….lol….yes I am

              • flyer27

                i want to hear yuh voice. you think i will need a translator?

    • anon

      This made my day! Vincy stand up!

    • TRUTH IS

      Shout out Vincy…we only have Kevin Lyttle (turn me on singer)…we are small and I love it….you barely hear Vincentians in the news for trouble…..I rather it stay that way :))

      • kingstown

        And skinny fabulous! And Jamesy p (sings nookie tonight) and more

    • LeeLeeC

      Can’t hate on Vincy….grandparents from both sides come from that beautiful country…so I always say I’m Trini/Vincy to the bone….lol

    • Momma Mia

      Grenada

      • flyer27

        grand mother from Grenada. big part of trini is the grenadian influnce. where you now?

    • Leah

      I think it’s becasue it is not a popular island among the industry. I notice alot of people in the entertainment industry, are Trinidadian, Jamaica or Haitian not saying there is no celebrities that are from other islands however alot of the celebs is a connected to those 3 islands! And with Nicki Minaj being very popular now that bring light to the island and also Bunji Garlin with his song differentology that also made the island even more popular and have been on peoples lips lately.

  • Niiiiiiiiiii

    Tatyana Ali is half Trinidadian and Panamanian! Its so obvious, why was she not included?

  • Laavida

    Inga “Foxy Brown” Marchand’s father is from Trinidad and her maternal grandfather was from Suriname and maternal grandmother was from Trinidad. Her Surinamese grandfather who helped raise her was of Chinese and Creole descent and was very active in the Surinamese American community along with the actor Jimmy Smits’ dad.

  • sandra

    Tatiana Ali is also of trini heritage! She has been to the island several times

  • sabrina

    LIKE WE NEED BLOOD IN WE VEIN, THAT’S HOW WE FEEL ABOUT PORT OF SPAIN!!!!

    • IslandGirl

      OHGADO!!!! Sabrina..”I’z a Trini…a proud, PROUD TRINI!!!!

      • flyer27

        south trini all day. allyuh could keep the betham an laventile.

  • sabrina

    LIKE WE NEED BLOOD IN WE VEIN, THAT’S HOW WE FEEL ABOUT PORT OF SPAIN!!!!!!

  • MissWisdom

    Actually the late great Kwame Ture was born Stokley Carmichael. Step your game up

  • trini2dbone

    Romany mentioned on Sirius last month, that he was born in Trinidad and came to the US when he was 12 yrs. old.

  • trini2dbone

    That jagabat Foxy wants to be a role model for the youths in T & T? She mad or what?

  • trini2dbone

    they call papachunks…i miss Roaring Lion!

  • You also left out singer Glenn Lewis who lives in Toronto but whose parents are from Trinidad & he was raised there for several years.

  • NONNI

    OMG that photo of Nia in Trinidad might as well be taken in Freetown, Sierra Leone the similarities are amazing and her statement “i ate my belly fully” said in Creole spoken in Sierra Leone would be “ar don bellefull” same meaning!

    • bornlivetrini

      trinidad is a melting pot. I does hear a piece of very culture, especially from the eastern hemisphere.

    • NTG

      I wonder why you received so many “thumbs down” on your comment. You didn’t say anything wrong. Are some Islanders upset that you compared their sweet ol’ country to one in Africa? SMH

  • Kay

    Carlton looks like fat Albert in that picture, MN yall are so wrong for that lol

  • Treacle234

    Trinidad produces some beautiful looking people.

  • Ms lovely

    Tatiana Ali is also Trinidadian as well.

    • Prissy

      She’s Afro Panamanian AND Trini

      • Laavida

        and Indo-Trini.

  • Alexa

    Ok so I just looked it up and Tatiana is half Trinidadian and half panamanian MN! Lol

    • lex

      she was in st.james trinidad like a couple of months ago filming a movie about a girl going back home to her roots or something like that as well (i forget what the film crew pple said). I know for sure her dad is trini, not sure about the mum tho

    • SCTrini

      She goes home to Trini every carnival.

  • Shonda Johnson

    Isn’t it a coincidence that most of these folks were raised in NYC(Queens,Harlem,and Brooklyn) in there Caribbean or West Indian communities.

    • Candacey Doris

      Not a coincidence. That’s where you go when you’re FOB.

    • Trisha_B

      A lot of Caribbean folks 1st stop in the states is NY. I think its a word of mouth thing. One person went to NY, others heard & they followed suit lol. My fam came to the states while my mom was prego w/ me in 1990. They moved to Brooklyn. My fam now lives in Maryland, but i love going back to NY to be around all the West Indian people

      • bornlivetrini

        real trinis in maryland too! i have family in maryland and that is where the former PM of Trinidad is recovering as well

        • Trisha_B

          My fam is Jamaican, but i’ve seen a lot more trinis in MD then i see Jamaicans. But i also think its the area i live in too. My uncle is married to a trini

        • LeeLeeC

          Born inTrini raised in DC/MD…and people are surprised that I never lived in NY. Always tell folks there are other stepping stones in the US other than NY.

        • Miss Anonymous

          Down by the GA and AL border too. My grandfather somehow managed to “fall off the boat” down there. lol

      • flyer27

        where here in maryland you is? silver spring. i prob know u.

  • Alexa

    Wow that was a lot! Lol I had no idea Hilary from the Fresh prince was Trinidadian, for some reason I always thought it was Alfonso and Tatiana Ali that were trini? Guess I was wrong. Now how about Haiti next time???? Please and thank you.

    • Ola

      I was in Port au Prince two months ago for charity work. I’m half Trinidadian, half Nigerian.

      • Yeah, I remember you from the cnn special about comon the rapper. Great work lady.

    • LiiSH

      I think Tatyana is Panamanian and Trini.

  • For some reason I always thought Alfonso was either Dominican or Panamanian…learn something new everyday

    • Angel

      yea i thought he was dominican too.Maybe his fam just lived in DR for a period of time.

    • KamJos

      For some reason I always thought he was Cuban.