- National Immigrants Day falls on October 28 every year.
- Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are from countries including India, Canada, Ireland, and Colombia.
- Salma Hayek overstayed her visa and was undocumented before she got her green card.
The family struggled at first. Kunis’ parents, who moved to the US after the fall of the Soviet Union with just $US250 ($AU331) to their name, left behind careers in Ukraine. Kunis’ father found work as a cab driver, delivered pizzas, and painted houses while Elvira Kunis began working in a pharmacy.
“I didn’t understand the culture,” Kunis told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “I didn’t understand the people. I didn’t understand the language. My first sentence of my essay to get into college was like, ‘Imagine being blind and deaf at age seven.’ And that’s kind of what it felt like moving to the States. But I got over it pretty fast.”
“I’m real proud of the fact that if you say ‘Russia’ to the average American he thinks ‘Cold War’ and if you say ‘Russia’ to a Canadian he thinks ‘hockey,'” Fox said in 1987.
According to Rolling Stone, Young didn’t have proper papers at the time and lived “in perpetual fear of getting pulled over for a traffic violation.”
In an interview for his biography “Shakey,” Young described the quintessential Canadian characteristic of constant ambivalence.
“There’s something in Canada that teaches you that you always gotta look at both sides,” Young said. “Even the things that I believe in the most, I doubt.”
Hayek remains an active part of her Mexican community, she told E! in 2012, making an effort to represent the country in her work and life.
“I have taught my child to embrace her Mexican heritage, to love my first language, Spanish, to learn about Mexican history, music, folk art, food, and even the Mexican candy I grew up with,” she said. “I have tried my whole life to represent my Mexican roots with honor and pride.”
After graduating from New York University’s film school, Shyamalan made a film called “Praying with Anger” about an American’s spiritual journey to India, according to “The Philadelphia Reader” by Robert Huber. It won an award at the American Film Institute and landed him an agent.
In a 2014 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, the “Modern Family” star revealed she completely nailed the test, even though it was a long time coming.
“It took me a lot of time to get my residence even though I was working here for a long time. But it was fun and I got all my questions perfect,” she said.
“America is the hardest countries [sic] to visit, let alone emigrate to. I remember my dad shaking during his visa interview. The process is scary,” he posted on Twitter, according to Bustle. “The system is very dehumanizing. I remember after I got my green card, they lost my passport. They just said it like it wasn’t a big deal.”
More recently, he again tweeted about negative experiences he’s had as an immigrant in the US, despite achieving a great amount of success through hits like “The Big Sick.”
“I’ve heard ‘Go back to your country’ many many times. Most recently was about a month and a half ago in LA. It hurts my feelings every time,” he said.
Anderson makes fun of her reputation.
“People say I’m the ultimate California girl, which is funny, being that I’m Canadian,” she told Esquire in 2015.
“This country has helped define me and make my dreams come true,” Carrey said in a statement at the time.
He kept his Canadian citizenship, too, though.
“I have no intention of giving up my Canadian heritage, and all those who loved and supported me,” Carrey said in the statement. “My upbringing in Canada made me the person I am. I will always be proud to be a Canadian.”
In 2011, Van Halen donated a guitar, the Frank 2, to the National Museum of American History. And in 2015, he gave a talk at the museum about “What It Means to Be American.”
“We showed up here with the equivalent of $US50 ($AU66) and a piano,” Van Halen told the Associated Press. “We came halfway around the world without money, without a set job, no place to live, and couldn’t even speak the language.”
He said donating his guitars was an honor and a symbol of how his music became part of the American fabric.
“What more could you ask for to be recognized as being part of having contributed to change, you know?” he said. “All I can say is only in America.”
At Hebrew school in the US, “he was teased there by other kids and he begged us not to send him any more,” his mother, Genia, told Moment magazine in 2007. “Eventually, it worked.”
He later attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, where he excelled, before studying at the University of Maryland and Stanford. He founded Google in 1998 with Larry Page. Today, he’s worth $US150 ($AU199) billion, according to Forbes.
In 2017, in response to President Trump’s immigration ban, he spoke about how America had welcomed his family, despite the ongoing Cold War.
“I’d say the risks at the time, letting in these foreigners from a land that might spy on you, learn the nuclear secrets on the back … and there were many cases of espionage, those risks were far greater than the terrorism we face today,” he said. “And nevertheless, this country was brave and welcoming and I wouldn’t be where I am today or have any kind of the life that I have today if this was not a brave country that really stood out and spoke for liberty.”
In 2015, Portman made her directorial debut with “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” It’s in Hebrew and based on the semi-autobiographical novel by the Israeli author Amos Oz.
“The relationship to Israel, conflicted and complicated and always changing, founded in mythology and dreams,” Portman told the Jerusalem Post. “All Jews have the Holocaust on our backs as this dominant part of our cultural story that is a heavy thing. The pressures of being a woman, of being a mother. The dual-pull of being an immigrant, idealizing where you’re going and once you get there, idealizing where you left. All of that I relate to.”
In South Africa, Matthews attended anti-apartheid marches and rallies, which inspired some of his later work.
“In a way, the fertile ground for revolution is oppression, you know?” Matthews told CNN in 2005. “Although it’s very ugly, a revolutionary spirit comes out of just the will that we have. It’s inside of us all, that will that we have inside. I think it taught me that.”
Cabello was born in Cojímar, Cuba, to a Cuban mother and Mexican father. At the age of 6, Cabello moved from Cuba to the United States, crossing the US border with her mother. According to Marie Claire, Cabello’s mother told her they were going on a trip to Disney World.
Cabello spoke about her experience as an immigrant and gave her support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
“Just like the Dreamers, my parents brought me to this country with nothing in their pockets but hope. They showed me what it means to work twice as hard and never give up. And honestly, no part of my journey is any different from theirs,” she said. “I’m a proud Cuban-Mexican immigrant, born in eastern Havana, standing in front of you on the Grammy stage in New York City, and all I know is, just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for.”
“When you have a South African passport, you have to get a visa for every country and it’s a bit of a nightmare,” Theron told the Irish Examiner in 2008. “It’s nice to feel like I’m actually really home here.”
She first moved to the US to work as a model in New York. When she was 19, she went to Los Angeles to try acting.
“[My mother] bought me a one-way plane ticket,” Theron told The New York Times in 2008. “When I arrived in California, I got in the cab and said, ‘Take me to Hollywood.'”
He had some trouble when he first started acting in the US. Casting directors would praise him, but ask him to change his accent.
“I would say ‘of course we can change our accent’ because we’re actors, that’s part and parcel of what we do,” Neeson told the Irish Times in 2016. “In those days, there’d be lots of auditions where you’d get ‘well you’re just a bit too tall, you’re just a bit too Irish, your nose is a bit too this.’ There’s always rejection in this business. You have to develop a tough skin.”
Neeson still sticks to his Irish roots, however. He narrated Ireland’s bid video to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
He hosted a number of different game shows over the years, including “The Wizard of Odds,” “High Rollers,” “The $US128,000 ($AU169,634) Question,” and “Pitfall.”
In 1984, Trebek’s life would change forever when he was tapped to host the revival of “Jeopardy!” He became a naturalized American citizen in 1998.
He passed away in November 2020 at age 80 after a battle with cancer.
By doing so, some reports suggested he lost his title of “sir” and his Order of the British Empire because the US pledge of allegiance includes the phrase “I further renounce the title of nobility to which I have heretofore belonged.” But Hopkins kept his UK citizenship and maintains his knighthood.
Hopkins told the BBC in 2000 that he chose to become a US citizen because the country was “generous” to him.
“I thought it would be good to give something back,” he said. “It was a decision of the heart.”
“When I come back into the country now and they stamp my passport they say ‘Welcome home, Ma’am.’ I think that’s a lovely formality,” Weisz told the Express in 2012. “No one in England would say that, would they?”
Brosnan lived in the US for 22 years before getting his citizenship. He said he put it off because he didn’t want to take a citizenship test.
“I’ve kind of had this allergic reaction to tests and it goes back to school, and I never did well at tests in school,” Brosnan said at the time. “I didn’t show up for them. [To get my citizenship], I’ll have to know American history and they’ll ask me questions and suppose that I get them wrong and they say, ‘No, next!'”
“I’m not sure I’m entirely thrilled about it,” she told Jimmy Kimmel. “People ask me about the whole day. They were like, ‘Oh, it must have been so emotional.’ I was like, ‘It wasn’t! It was sad!’ I like being British.”
When asked about how she prepared for the citizenship test, she spoke about how difficult it was.
“It is the hardest test I ever had to take,” Blunt said. “I guarantee most Americans would have no idea how to answer any of these questions.”