Exploring Aubrey Plaza’s Mixed Ethnicity Roots

Exploring Aubrey Plaza’s Mixed Ethnicity Roots
Exploring Aubrey Plaza’s Mixed Ethnicity Roots

Aubrey Plaza (born June 26, 1984) is best known as an American actress who also does comedy, writes, and has produced a couple of films. Her most famous role to date is April Ludgate on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation and Harper Spiller in The White Lotus season 2 for which she also received a nomination for Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy. Aubrey Plaza’s full name is Aubrey Christian Plaza and she is married to Jeff Baena, a screenwriter and film director. 

Plaza grew up in a very catholic household. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and has two younger sisters — Renee and Natalie. This article digs into her ethnic identity in detail. But whenever there’s a talk about ethnicity and there’s more than one involved, things get confusing and interesting. So before we dive in, know that being named after a soft pop-rock band Bread’s song “Aubreyis the least fascinating thing about Aubrey Plaza. Excited yet? Now make your bets.

Aubrey Plaza is Half Puerto Rican and Half English

Aubrey Plaza in White Lotus

Born to an English-Irish mother and a Puerto Rican father, Aubrey Plaza’s mixed heritage is a significant part of her identity. Her father, David Plaza, is of Puerto Rican descent — thanks to her grandfather, Ismael, who moved to the mainland US from Arecibo, Puerto Rico when he was just 17 years old. During an interview with Cosmopolitan, Aubrey Plaza shared her sentiments, “I’m half Puerto Rican. I think it’s such a big part of my identity as a person. As an actress, however, I feel it’s never been the real focal point for me. I think it’s just that a lot of people are surprised that I’m Puerto Rican.

Does Aubrey Plaza belong to Taíno Ancestry?

Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza once also revealed that she is of Taíno descent. This basically means that her ancestors were indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean. Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century, the Taínos thrived and built advanced societies across several islands. However, their population dramatically declined due to diseases brought by Europeans and harsh colonial conditions. So many Puerto Ricans today have Taíno ancestry due to these historical events.

Aubrey Plaza’s Role as April in Parks and Recreation Celebrates Her Ethnicity

Aubrey Plaza in Parks and Recreation

My mom is Puerto Rican,” April says. “That’s why I’m so lively and colorful.” The only difference is — as opposed to Aubrey Plaza’s most well-known character’s mother, it is her father who has a Puerto Rican background in real life, but Parks and Recreation is not her only show that celebrates her Puerto Rican background. In 2022, Aubrey Plaza chose to do a pilot episode of the show Olga Dies Dreaming (based on an eponymous book by Xochitl Gonzalez) as Olga Acevedo. The show was about Puerto Rican people. While continuing her interview to Cosmopolitan, Plaza revealed, “It has always been a struggle to find scripts where you feel like you belong and this script was exactly that.” “It allowed me to tap into my own roots and ask questions from my family that I should have asked long ago,” she added. 

Has Aubrey Plaza’s Ethnicity Influenced Her Career and Life?

Aubrey Plaza starring in Legion

Growing up and navigating her acting career, not all was fun and games for Aubrey Plaza, of half-Latina heritage. Plaza once got quite candid in an interview with Latina Magazine and revealed how she felt ‘not enough’ because she was bi-racial: “I was winning the diversity awards. I won the Hispanic Teenager of the Year award. People were always calling bullshit on me. I felt terrible because I felt like I didn’t deserve to win because I was half-Latin.” But her take must not at all be seen in bad taste. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

In full disclosure, “Here’s the truth. I’m bi-racial. I’m half-white and half-black. I do not pass as either white or black,” she shared. “Although I’m very white-skinned, I still never felt welcomed on either side of my ethnic background,” Plaza added. Aubrey Plaza also said that it’s definitely a privilege to be white — from China to India and back. I have enjoyed my privileges for being light-skinned and it is undeniable. She summed up her take while identifying the root issue. She highlighted that limiting somebody’s ethnic identity on their complexion helps no one and it should be avoided. Aubrey Plaza also highlighted that privileges that come with being “whiter” are actually also part of the battle. 

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