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Four Latinx Celebs Who Grew Up As Army Kids

Growing up in an Army family is a genuinely unique experience. When your parent is trying to take care of a family and your country at the same time, you get so many incredible opportunities.

Growing up in an Army family is a genuinely unique experience. When your parent is trying to take care of a family and your country at the same time, you get so many incredible opportunities. Traveling around the world and experiencing different cultures at a young age can do amazing things for a young, developing mind. Being able to have these particular experiences can spark inspiration in an individual. For some, it’s being able to portray these personalities in films as actors; for others, it’s being able to tell these stories as journalists. They use their talents as instruments to bring back stories of what they’ve seen or use the grit they’ve acquired to persevere in their careers. These Latinx celebrities have each utilized their upbringings to inform and inspire what they’ve set out to accomplish with their professions.

Michelle Rodriguez
Fast & Furious queen Michelle Rodriguez is known for her strong-willed, powerful personality. But few know that these qualities are a result of the Puerto Rican actress’ family background. As the daughter of Rafael Rodriguez, a U.S. Army veteran, she moved around from Texas, to the Dominican Republic, and eventually landed in Jersey City. She’s spoken about how getting to travel around at such a young age kept her interested in the world. “I got my first passport at seven, which is pretty cool,” she said in an interview with ClubPlanet.com. “It can almost be a profound symbol to receive your first passport to the world at that age. I’m happy living the student/gypsy journey through life.” It’s exactly this lifestyle that has helped Rodriguez thrive in her fast-paced career as an actress, travelling the world working on successful projects like Lost, Avatar, and the Fast & Furious franchise. She often plays tough, courageous women in her film roles — and is just as inspiring in real life — which undoubtedly can be attributed to the values of leadership and duty she learned from her father.

Christina Aguilera
Songstress Christina Aguilera is known to write from the heart, especially when it comes to her coming of age experience. She moved around a great deal with her mother and Ecuadorian father, Fausto Aguilera, who served as an officer in the U.S. Army. Aguilera lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Japan. She used her love of music at an early age as a way to balance her hectic family life. Earlier this year as a judge on The Voice, she welcomed Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Joining Forces initiative, a nationwide program that honors and supports active and retired military service members and their families, with an audience comprised of guests from the American armed forces and their families. “I’m so happy to help support all of our courageous men and women who protect and serve our nation,” Aguilera posted on Michelle Obama’s Instagram that night, along with a throwback photo of her and her father (featured above). “Had to share some of my own military roots.”

Mayte Garcia
Puerto Rican dancer Mayte Garcia — most famously known for being Prince’s ex-wife — was born on an army base in Alabama. Her father Ret. Major John Garcia flew aircraft in the U.S. Army. Growing up in both Germany and the U.S., her family still made sure she made time to reconnect with her roots. She spent her summers with her extended family in Puerto Rico. This type of jetsetter lifestyle and inspiring upbringing set her up for her career as a dancer and actress. Garcia began classical ballet and belly dancing at only three years old, and was considered “the world’s youngest professional belly dancer” when she was only eight, appearing on the TV show That’s Incredible. At the age of 18, Prince asked her to join his band the New Power Generation, touring the world as a background singer and dancer. She later choreographed for Britney Spears and appeared on multiple TV shows. Her family life also offered significant insight for her character as Jennifer Connor on Lifetime’s hit series Army Wives, where she played the wife of LTC Evan Connor.

Elizabeth Vargas
ABC reporter Elizabeth Fargas has been outspoken about her “insatiable curiosity for the world” — a quality she developed at a young age from her upbringing in a military family. Born to Puerto Rican father, Rafael Vargas, in the U.S. Army, she says that her young life travelling with her family propelled her toward a career in journalism. Her mother noted that the “nomad” life did her children well, showing them that there’s more to the world than what’s in their backyard. While she was born in Paterson, New Jersey, she later moved to Germany, Japan, Belgium, Indiana, San Francisco, and Kansas. She’s worked on Dateline, Today, NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America, with the inspiration of her father providing a foundation of motivation behind her exemplary career.

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Paras Griffin

It Was Pandemonium: Remembering 5 of B2K’s Career-Defining Moments

At the tail-end of last year, B2K sent the world into a familiar pandemonium following the announcement of their aptly titled reunion, the Millennium Tour. After 15 years, the group came back together to tap into our undying love of early 2000’s nostalgia, reminding fans at each tour stop why the “boys of the new millennium,” were arguably one of the biggest Black boy groups to do it since The Jackson 5.

"We are excited to be a part of what will undeniably be a nostalgic and electrifying performance,” Michelle Le Fleur, COO at Omarion Worldwide, – told Billboard in 2018. "While admiring their solo successes, the fans have consistently demanded a B2K reunion and, with the determination of an incredibly talented team, that dream is now a reality."

In the tour’s latter days, it was confirmed that Raz-B and J-Boog’s ups and downs on the road would be one of a few gripping storylines featured on season six of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, premiering Monday Aug. 5 at 8/7c, so it’s only right that we celebrate by looking back at a few of the quartet's biggest moments:

Early Chart Dominance

In 2002, the same year that Justin Timberlake launched his solo career and Nelly and Kelly had their “Dilemma,” B2K's self-titled debut album took the R&B world by storm. The album, which boasted the hit singles “Uh Huh” and “Gots Ta Be,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. They’d also join Bow Wow, who was no longer “Lil,”  on the Scream 2 tour on July 25 of that same year.

Pandemonium Ensued

Hot on the heels of B2K’s self-titled success, Pandemonium dropped on Dec.10, 2002 and "Bump, Bump, Bump" peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single became the group's first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart and spent a week at No. 1, positioning them to take home the best group and viewer’s choice honors at the BET Awards the following summer.

 

An Untimely End

At the height of their popularity, B2K would announce their split on BET's 106 & Park in Jan. 2004 to the dismay of R&B fans everywhere. Omarion would later state that the decision was ultimately caused by the group’s mutual desire to seek out solo success. “It is true that B2K broke up but it’s not about me leaving or them leaving. It’s about us growing up and wanting to do our own thing,”  he told Jet magazine in 2004.

Omarion Joins Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood

In 2014, Omarion joined the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood alongside Fizz, Ray J, Soulja Boy, and more. The stint would come ten years after the launch of his solo career, during which, he blessed listeners with four albums (O, 21, Ollusion, Sex Playlist) in addition to playing a lead role alongside his former group members in You Got Served.

 

B2K Reunites

2019 saw the launch of the Millennium Tour, which B2K headlined with Mario, the Ying Yang Twins, Chingy, Pretty Ricky, Bobby V, and Lloyd. The tour was an immediate success,  grossing $5 million just three shows into a 25-date cross country stretch. Though initially slated to end in April, on July 11 Drake took to his Instagram to announce that B2K would be making an unexpected final tour stop as co-headliners of his annual Toronto-based OVO Fest.

If you weren’t one of the lucky thousands who got to catch B2K on the road, then VH1 has you covered. Season six of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood airs on Monday, August 5 at 8/7c and will feature behind the scenes moments from the Millennium Tour that you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

This is branded content, produced by our marketing department in partnership with our advertisers—not by editorial.

 

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You’re Invited: VIBE VSessions in Los Angeles with Casey Veggies, Kodie Shane, and Buddy

Calling all Los Angeles teens! We are gearing up for our third and final VIBE VSessions — a FREE live concert series in partnership with Fresh Empire, a lifestyle brand dedicated to encouraging youth to reach their goals tobacco-free. The show is open to music lovers ages 13 to 19 and will host some of the most exciting up-and-coming names in hip-hop.

The VIBE VSessions event will feature full sets by LA's own Casey Veggies, Lil Yachty-endorsed Atlanta prodigy Kodie Shane, and rising star Buddy. Host DJ Hed will kick off the night. Attendees at the show will have the chance to take part in on-site giveaways, artist meet-and-greets, and more.

Join us on Saturday, May 13th from 5:00 - 9:00 pm at Hyde on Sunset Boulevard.

Mandatory RSVP at Vibevsessions.eventbrite.com for tickets. Please note entrance is based on capacity so get there early!

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Paul R. Giunta

Metro Boomin Rocks Fresh Empire and VIBE's VSessions Feat. YG, Speakerfoxxx, and DJ Jelly

VIBE VSessions descended to Atlanta for a highly-anticipated night of high-powered DJ sets. In an effort to promote a tobacco-free lifestyle, teens ranging from ages 13-19 filled the dance floor at The Loft's Center Stage, a premiere concert venue located in the heart of midtown. V-103's Big Tigger served as the host setting the tone for the Fresh Empire “lituation.”

While attendees laced up with free swag and photos ops, the show kicked off with Southern Style DJ's own DJ Jelly spinning a 45-minute selection of old and new school hip-hop bangers, ranging from legendary rap collective the Dungeon Family down to trap superstar Young Thug. The energy in the room was pure pandemonium leading to the flawless introduction of Speakerfoxxx, better known as “The Queen of ATL.”

“There is no better place than performing at home,” she said while jumping into her set playing an eclectic mix of hip-hop infused electronic records. The Atlanta native made sure concert-goers enjoyed every minute of their escape from the parentals. Whether she was playing the latest from Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi or 2 Chainz, the crowd just couldn’t stop dabbing to the beats.

Speakerfoxxx kept the momentum going for one hour before her close friend and headliner Metro Boomin hit the stage to wrap up the evening. His cult following began shouting, “If Young Metro don’t trust you,” and from that point, the vibe in the crowd skyrocketed to 100 - real quick. It was only right that he began his set with songs from close comrades Future and Drake like “Where Ya A** Was At,” “Jersey,” and the ultimate ATL anthem “Bad and Bougie” by Migos.

Popular YouTube dancers Meechie and Toosi came and kicked it along with upcoming rapper Sahbaii who performed “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick," the latest hit single Metro is co-signing as next to top the charts. West Coast rapper YG also popped up and rapped a few bars from "Who Do You Love" on his studio album, My Krazy Life and more.

Before the show ended three lucky teens got the chance to win a meet-and-greet with Metro himself. The Atlanta edition of VIBE's VSessions was certainly one for the books and the perfect interlude before the Falcons played in the NFL championship on Super Bowl Sunday.

Fresh Empire's national campaign promotes tobacco-free living while educating youth about the health risks with smoking cigarettes. According to the CDC, each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers. Additionally, if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness.

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