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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.