3 Latino Stars Who Surprisingly Can’t Speak Spanish
Sometimes on their rise to fame celebrities can take on a life of their own in fans’ minds. In a time when everyone’s got a brand, stars can get lumped in with a certain profile in audiences’ minds regardless of whom they really are in their personal lives.
Latin cultural representation has definitely been on the rise in Hollywood for the past decade, and an increasingly diverse group of celebrities has risen from an industry that sometimes is… well, not very diverse at all. Ethnic heritage doesn’t necessarily translate to culture though, and fans are shocked to find that some of their favorite Latino celebrities can’t speak Spanish at all.
Demi Lovato has come a long way from their 2002 breakout on Barney and Friends. The child actor translated their early successes into pop stardom and an extensive acting career. Though they’ve had experiences with mental health and drug abuse along the way, Lovato has continuously reinvented their style to stay at the top of their game and keep fans craving more.
Despite being primarily of Spanish descent and singing in fluent Spanish on several occasions, the star actually can’t speak the language. According to Life & Style, the star remarked to Jimmy Fallon on their linguistic ability, “I’ve memorized songs in Spanish before. I had a song called Lo Que Soy which is This Is Me in Spanish. I decided to sing the song half in English, half in Spanish. But my brain like would not memorize it, the day before, I was like I might need a teleprompter!”
Some fans may best know Mark Consuelos for his long-running role as Mateo Santos on All My Children, but he’s charmed a new generation of fans on Riverdale as Veronica’s dad, Hiram. The star has done much more than that though, popping up on greats like American Horror Story and Queen of the South.
The actor and husband of Kelly Ripa had a long journey to Hollywood stardom, originally starting in Zaragoza, Spain. With a Mexican father and an Italian mother, Consuelos didn’t stay in Spain long though. He spent most of his childhood between Florida and Italy, and despite his Spanish birth and Mexican father, he never learned to speak Spanish, though his mother did teach him enough to be fluent in Italian according to Nikki Swift.
The once star remarked to Teen Vogue on not really fitting in culturally in his youth. “I’m half Mexican, half Italian. So, I was always in this neverland of… I wasn’t really ‘Mexican enough'” Consuelos remarked in 2018 interview “I wasn’t really ‘Italian enough.’ It wasn’t till I got a little bit older that it really dug in,”
Selena Gomez is another child star who made good and translated her early hype into superstar status. Just like Lovato, she got her start on Barney and Friends, and though her father is of full Mexican descent, she never learned to speak Spanish. Her father was second-generation American, and while he did teach Selena some Spanish, the star would regularly admit that she didn’t speak Spanish very well at all.
In 2016, however, the star clearly brushed up a bit on her Spanish. Fans were shocked to see her appear in a 38-second Pantene TV ad, speaking only Spanish. Fans quickly took to social media with surprise over how well the star was speaking Spanish after previously not being able to according to Billboard. Ironically, Gomez, who’s named for murdered singer Selena Quintanilla, took a step beyond her namesake by learning to speak Spanish. Quintanilla would never learn to speak Spanish before her death at the age of 23.