Usually, when you mention the term famous Puerto Ricans, the names like Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Raul Julia, and many more come to mind. The Caribbean island and unincorporated US territory are home to many celebrities.
Puerto Ricans have made a name for themselves in many fields. Officially named the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the territory is located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles from Miami, Florida. This is the reason why Miami and Florida are home to the biggest Latino community in the United States.
Puerto Ricans have been US citizens since 1917 and can move freely between the island and the mainland. However, because they are residents of an unincorporated territory, American citizens of Puerto Rico are disenfranchised at the national level. They do not vote for the President or vice president. They also do not pay federal income tax.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the most famous Puerto Ricans in the world today.
Born Raul Rafael Carlos Julia Arcelay in March 1940, Raul Julia is a legend in Puerto Rico and a source of great pride. The late actor took interest in acting while still in school.
He performed locally for a while but was convinced by Orson Bean to move and work in New York City. As a bilingual actor, he gained interest in Broadway and Off-Broadway plays.
Raul has earned a Tony Award nomination for his appearance in Two Gentlemen of Verona. After he was noticed by bigger names in the industry, he began appearing in two iconic television series, Love of Life and Sesame Street. In 1978, Raul Julia appeared alongside Meryl Streep in an electric revival of Taming of the Shrew.
Raul actually got his film debut alongside Al Pacino in the movie The Panic in Needle Park. During his illustrious career, Julia earned two Golden Globe Award nominations. Some of his movies include Tempest, Kiss of the Spider Woman, One from the Heart, The Morning After, The Rookie, and many more.
Let’s start with a fun fact. Luis Guzman is fluent in over 70 languages. Yet, he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. Now that is interesting, right?
Here is another fun fact for you. In 2010, he accepted every role he could to prove he could do it. That year, he was in 30 movies alone. His IMDB page is so long, that some students find it difficult to finish because of the length.
Born in August 1956, his career spans forty years and includes many movies. Some of his most popular movies include Boogie Nights, Traffic, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Punch-Drunk Love.
Benicio del Toro
Born as Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sanchez in February 1967, Benicio is a Puerto Rican actor and producer. Among the many accolades, he has an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and many more.
Fun fact: he appeared alongside Luis Guzman in the 2000 movie, Traffic. That movie earned him a couple of awards and nominations.
His breakout role came in the iconic movie, The Usual Suspects, playing unintelligible crook Fred Fenster. Benicio del Toro is part of the large universes, playing the Collector in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the codebreaker in Star Wars the Last Jedi.
Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker
Roberto Clemente might be the most famous Puerto Rican athlete. The professional baseball right fielder played 18 seasons in the Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Born in August 1934, Roberto Clemente became the first Caribbean and Latin-American player to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was an All-Star for 13 seasons and won the National League Most Valuable Player in 1966. During his life, he was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries. He often delivered baseball equipment and food.
Clemente died in a plane crash in 1972 at only 38 years of age. Following his death, the Pirates retired his uniform number and MLB renamed the annual Commissioner’s Award in his honor.
Born Enrique Martin Morales in December 1971, Ricky Martin is a Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, and actor. Famous for his musical versatility, his discography spans multiple genres. Ricky Martin produced music in the genre of Latin pop, dance, reggaeton, and salsa. Many call him the King of Latin Pop and King of Latin Music.
Ricky Martin remains one of the most influential artists in the world. He was born in San Juan and began appearing in television commercials at the age of 9.
The American singer began his musical career at 12 years of age, as a member of the boy band Menudo. In 1991, he began his solo career while in Sony Music Mexico. His first two albums Ricky Martin and Me Amaras were focused on ballads. But his fourth album, Vuelve, was the one that made him an international star and earned him a Grammy Award.
Born Roselyn Milagros Sanchez Rodriguez in April 1973, she is a Puerto Rican singer and songwriter. Roselyn Sanchez is also a dancer, model, writer, and actress.
Her television credits include her role as Elena Delgado in the CBS police procedural series Without a Trace and Carmen Luna in the comedy-drama Devious Maids. Her latest role includes Elena Roarke on the Fantasy Island TV show.
She gained public attention initially as a dancer and co-host of a variety show called Que Vacilon. She also won the Miss Puerto Rico Petite contest and the international title of Miss American Petite in 1994. Roselyn has appeared on lists of Most Desirable Women and Sexiest Women by Maxim Magazine and AskMen.
So, Joker has Puerto Rican descent? Jokes aside, Joaquin Phoenix might be the most famous Puerto Rican actor to this day. Born Joaquin Rafael Phoenix in October 1974, he is an American actor, animal rights activist, and screenwriter.
He got famous for playing dark and unconventional characters in independent films, which is why he was perfect for the role of Joker.
His accolades include an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Grammy Award, and the Golden Globe Award two times.
He was born in Puerto Rico but raised in Los Angeles and Florida. In the 1980s, he appeared in television series alongside his brother River. At the time, he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, a name he gave himself.
Phoenix has been vegan since the age of three and regularly supports charitable causes. He has produced documentaries on global meat consumption and its impact on the environment.
Ivan Rodriguez Torres
Ivan Pudge or I-Rod is a Puerto Rican athlete. Born in November 1971, he was a Major League Baseball catcher who played for the Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Washington Nationals.
He was awarded the AL MVP Award in 1999. Many view him as one of the greatest catchers in MLB history.
In 2003, he won the World Series with the Florida Marlins over the Yankees. To this day, he remains the MLB leader in putouts by catchers.
Now let’s move to some recent famous Puerto Ricans who have brought Latin music to mainstream music in America.
Born Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio in March 1994, Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican rapper, singer, actor, and record producer.
We can define his music as Latin Trap and reggaeton, but he also uses other genres like rock, bachata, and soul. Famous for his deep and slurred vocal style, he has collaborated with other artists like J Balvin, Jhay Cortez, Daddy Yankee, Rosalia, and many more.
He was raised in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Bad Bunny gained popularity on the SoundCloud platform where he posted while working in a supermarket as a bagger.
Some would say he is the most famous Puerto Rican musician after Ricky Martin. Daddy Yankee was born in February 1976. He is a rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor.
Dubbed The King of Reggaeton, Daddy Yankee coined the word reggaeton in 1994 to describe his new music genre emerging from Puerto Rico. The new style synthesized American hip-hop, Latin Caribbean music, and Jamaican reggae rhythms with Spanish rapping and singing.
His full name is Ramon Luis Ayala Rodriguez. Recently, you know by his collaboration with Luis Fonsi on one of the biggest hit singles, Despacito. The song became the first Spanish-language song to achieve Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since Macarena in 1996.
Continuing the list of Latin performers, Juan Carlos Ozuna Rosado was born in March 1992. He is a Puerto Rican singer and rapper. All five of his studio albums have topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart.
Similar to Daddy Yankee, Ozuna plays with reggaeton and trap music, but collaborates with artists from other genres.
He decided to become a singer at 12 years old, drawing influence from Latin American genres. Ozuna made his debut in 2012 with the song Imaginando, attracting the attention of recording labels.
We finish the list of famous Puerto Ricans with singer Luis Fonsi. Many call him a one-hit-wonder, but that one-hit single was a huge deal. Luis released the hit single Despacito featuring rapper Daddy Yankee and won four Latin Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Latin Awards, and earned three Grammy nominations.
Besides Despacito, he released the single Echame la Culpa with Demi Lovato.
As of 2018, he has broken six Guinness World Records and sold more than 11 million records with Despacito.
The music video was the most-watched YouTube video of all time until November 2020. As of 2023, it has over 8 billion views.