A TL;DR on the YA author’s more than problematic history.
Note I: If you send me a character for the list, please tell me their ethnicity in your comment/message and as much detail a you can!
Note II: Mixed-race, white passing actors are totally counted as long as they consider themselves non-white, even if the piece of media whitewashed their characters. Actors who don’t match the race/ethnicity of the character, specially in the case of white actors playing non-white roles, will also be clarified.
Note III: If you see any character is missing details or has any incorrect information, let me know!
Co-created with the amazing s4karuna!
Note I: If you send me a couple for the list, please tell me their ethnicity in your comment/message and as much detail a you can!
Note II: Mixed-race, white passing actors are totally counted as long as they consider themselves non-white, even if the movies whitewashed their characters. Actors who don’t match the race/ethnicity of the character, specially in the case of white actors playing non-white roles, will also be clarified.
Note III: If you see any couple is missing details or has any incorrect information, let me know!
If you want to read more on the importance of interracial relationships between people of color being shown in media, check out this post.
A couple days ago I was daydreaming about the day we’ll finally get a sit-com about Jewish Latinxs, and that led me to wonder if there were any other Jewish Latinxs (or Jewish characters of color in general) going around. Thanks to @s4karuna/@online_muse‘s amazing researching skills, the list grew from a couple characters to this compillation.
Jewish Characters of Color in Television
- Simon Lewis in “Shadowhunters” (Freeform, 2016-currently airing)
- You can watch “Shadowhunters” on [Netflix].
- The character is Jewish in book-canon, in the show the character (and his mother) are both played by Latinxs and the show makes Simon’s judaism an integral part of his character.
- Leading character.
- Phillip Goldstein in “Fresh off the Boat” (ABC, 2015-currently airing)
- You can watch “Fresh Off The Boat” on [ABC.Go.com].
- Chinese, adopted by Jewish parents and raised Jewish.
- Shows up in two episodes (s01e08 and s01e11).
- Rufus Turner in “Supernatural” (The CW, 2005-hopefully cancelled soon)
- Black and Jewish, the character is revealed to be Jewish when he says he doesn’t want anyone “sitting shiva when [he] died”. He was buried in a Jewish cemetery when he died.
- Was a recurring character during seasons 3, 5 to 7 and 11.
- Cindy Tova Hayes in “Orange Is The New Black” (Netflix, 2013-?)
- Black, she converts to Judaism in Season 3 and adopts the Jewish name Tova.
- Regular character.
- Timothy L. Finger in “No Tomorrow” (2016-?)
- Indian and Jewish.
- Regular character.
- The actor is, indeed, Indian and Jewish.
- Tina Cohen-Chang in “Glee” (FOX, 2009-2015)
- The character is Chinese-Jewish, though it was never specified in-show.
- Jenna Ushkowitz is actually Korean-Jewish.
- Main character (though often sidelined).
- Jake Puckerman in “Glee” (FOX, 2009-2015)
- Black-Jewish. Judaism is a big part of the Puckerman brothers’ identities.
- Main character from season 5 onwards.
- Dean Levine-Wilkins in “The Good Wife” (CBS, 2009-2016)
- Black and Jewish.
- Recurring character.
- Sidney in “Galavant” (ABC, 2015-2016)
- You can watch “Galavant” on [ABC.Go.com].
- Black, adopted and raised by a Jewish family.
- Main character.
- Max Bergman in “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS, 2010-currently airing)
- You can watch “Hawaii Five-0” on [CBS].
- Japanese, was adopted by a Jewish family.
- Main character.
- Isidore Latham in “Chicago Med” (NBC, 2015-currently airing)
- You can watch “Chicago Med” on [NBC].
- Black and Orthodox Jewish.
- Recurring character in season 2.
- Sammy Jones in “The Nanny” (CBS, 1993-1999)
- Black and Jewish, he was Fran’s step-father and practiced Judaism along with his wife and step-daughter.
- He cameo’d in a couple episodes.
- Mona Thorne and Phyllis Thorne (daughter and mother) in “Half & Half” (UPN, 2002-2006)
- Black and Jewish.
- Rachel True, who plays Mona, is Black and Jewish!
- Mona is a leading character, Phyllis is a main.
- Cristina Yang in “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 2005-currently airing)
- You can watch “Grey’s Anatomy” on [ABC.Go.com].
- Korean and Jewish. Christina’s step-father is Jewish, and she was raised in Judaism. Though she is an atheist, she described herself as Jewish at a couple points during the show.
- Main character since the beginning of the show, left in season 10.
- Rainbow Johnson and Johan Johnson (sister and brother) in “Black-Ish” (ABC, 2014-currently airing)
- You can watch “Black-Ish” on [ABC.Go.com].
- Black and Jewish. They mention living in a kibbutz (Israeli agriculture-based community).
- Both Tracee Ellis Ross and Daveed Diggs are Jewish. The actor who plays their dad, Beau Bridges, seems to have Jewish ancestry.
- Rainbow is a leading character and Johan is recurring.
- Isabella García-Shapiro and Vivian García-Shapiro (daughter and mother) in “Phineas and Ferb” (Disney, 2007-2015)
- You can watch “Phineas and Ferb” at [DisneyXD].
- Mexican-Jewish. Isabella’s mom looks more obviously Latina, but she speaks with a Yiddish accent. The García-Shapiro family observe Chanukah and they had an episode dedicated to a “Mexican-Jewish Cultural Festival”.
- The voice actress for Vivian is Puerto Rican and, from what I found on Google, she seems to be Jewish.
- Isabella is a main character.
- Francine Frensky in the “Arthur” cartoon (PBS, 1996-2012)
- Black and Jewish, the family observes Judaism.
- Main character.
- Ziva Davis in “NCIS” (CBS, 2003-currently airing)
- The character is Israeli Jewish but played by a (white passing?) Chilean actress, which could easily make her a Latina Israeli. Her being Jewish and Israeli is a central part of her character.
- Regular character from season 3 until season 11.
- Juan Epstein in “Welcome Back Kotter” (ABC, 1975–1979)
- Puerto Rican Jewish.
- The actor is neither Latinx nor Jewish.
- Main character.
- Pam in “Will and Grace” (NBC, 1998-2006)
- Iranian & Mizrahi Jewish.
- Nwabudike Bergstein from “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix, 2015)
- Black, raised by his adoptive Jewish family.
- Main character.
- Scott in “Son of Zorn” (Fox, 2016-currently airing)
- Guatemalan-Jewish, he mentions celebrating Hanukkah.
- Main character.
Jewish Characters of Color in Books
- All the main characters in the “Mangoverse” series by Shira Glassman are LGBTQ+ and Jewish, and some are characters of color. [author’s tumblr]
- Alex-Li Tandem (Jewish-Chinese) from “The Autograph Man” by Zadie Smith. [amazon]
- Tara Feinstein (Indian-Jewish) from “My Basmati Bat Mitzvah” by Paula J Freedman. [amazon]
- Nazira Mualdeb and her family (Syrian-Jewish) from “The Perfumes of Carthage” by Teresa Porzecanski. The book is part of a series called “Jewish Latin America”. [amazon]
- Emily (Jewish-Puerto Rican) from “Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa” by Micol Ostow. [amazon]
- The narrator and her family (Indian-Jewish) from “The Walled City” by Esther David. [amazon]
- Ruthie Mizrahi (Cuban-Jewish) from “Lucky Broken Girl” by Ruth Behar. [amazon]
- Yumi Ruiz-Hirsch (Cuban and Jewish-Japanese) from “I Wanna Be Your Shoebox” by Cristina García. [amazon]
- Chloe Leiberman (Chinese-Jewish) from “Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong)” by Carrie Rosten. [amazon]
- Kana Goldberg (Japanese-Jewish) from “Orchards” by Holly Thompson. [amazon]
- Frances (Japanese-Jewish) from “Black Mirror” by Nancy Werlin. [amazon]
- Dave Caros (Turkish-Sephardic Jewish) from “Dave At Night” by Gail Carson Levine. [amazon]
- Mahboubeh Malacouti (Iranian-Jewish) from “The Girl from the Garden” by Parnaz Foroutan. [amazon]
- Higgs Boson Bing (Chinese-English Jewish American) from “The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How Ruin Your Life in Seven Days” by Lisa Yee. [amazon]
- Desta (Ethiopian Jewish) from “The Return” by Sonia Levitin. [amazon]
- J from (Puerto-Rican Jewish) from “I Am J” by Cris Beam. [amazon]
- Violet Paz (Polish-Jewish and Cuban) from “Cuba 15” by Nancy Osa. [amazon]
- Pablo (Mexican-Jewish) from “Jalapeño Bagels” by Natasha Wing. [amazon]
- The main family (Black-Jewish) in “Always an Olivia” by Carolivia Herron. [amazon]
- The protagonist (Ethiopian-Jewish) in “Day of Delight; A Jewish Sabbath in Ethiopia” by Maxine Rose Schur. [amazon]
- Elan (Jewish-Native American) from “Elan, Son of Two Peoples” by Heidi Smith Hyde. [amazon]
- Isobel (Mexican-Jewish) from “Hanukkah Moon” by Deborah Da Costa. [amazon]
- Joey Sexton (Black-Jewish) from “Stealing Home” by Ellen Schwartz. [amazon]
- The writer (Black-Jewish) of “The Colour of Water” by James McBride. [amazon]
- Noah (Black-Jewish) from “A Turn for Noah: A Hanukkah Story” by Susan R. Topek. [amazon]
- The family (Mexican-Jewish) from “Abuelita’s Secret Matzahs” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. [amazon]
- Natalie (Black- Jewish, also disabled) from “Bluish” by Virginia Hamilton. [amazon]
- The protagonists (Ethiopian-Jewish) from “Daughters of the Ark” by Anna Morgan. [amazon]
- Reyna (Chinese-Jewish) from “Reyna And the Jade Star” by Robin K. Levinson; part of the “Gali Girls” series. [amazon]
- Shoshana (Brazilian-Jewish) from “Shoshana and the Native Rose” by Robin K. Levinson; part of the “Gali Girls” series. [amazon]
- Rahel (Ethiopian-Jewish, also blind) from “The Storyteller’s Beads” by Jane Kurts. [amazon]
- Zack Lane (Black-Jewish) from “Zack” by William Bell. [amazon]
- The writer of “Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self” by Rebecca Walker. [amazon]
- Ronnee (Black-Jewish) from “Half a Heart” by Rosellen Brown. [amazon]
- The protagonist (Black-Jewish) of “Oreo” by Fran Ross. [amazon]
- The family (Ethiopian-Jewish) in “When I Left My Village” by J. Brian Pinkney. [amazon]
- The protagonist (Ethiopian-Jewish) of “On Wings Of Eagles” by Micha Feldman. [amazon]
- The protagonist (Black-Jewish) of “Nappy Hair” by Carolivia Herron. [amazon]
- Avi (Israeli-Jewish) from “Snow in Jerusalem” by Deborah Costa. [amazon]
- The protagonist (Moroccan-Jewish) in a reversion of Cinderella titled “Smeda Rmeda Who Destroys Her Luck with Her Own Hands” by Haya Bar-Itzhak. [jstor]
- The protagonist (Yemeni-Jewish) of a fairy tale called “The Mute Princess“.
- Coleman Silk (Black-Jewish) from “The Human Stain” by Philip Roth. [amazon]
- Mona (Chinese Jewish convert) in “Mona In The Promised Land” by Gish Jen. [goodreads]
- Oscar Khan (Indian-South African Jewish convert) from “Kafka’s Curse” by Achmat Dangor. [amazon]
- The characters (Ethiopian-Jewish) in “The Moon is Bread” by Naomi Samuel. [amazon]
- The Ermosa family (Israeli Sephardic Jewish) from “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” by Sarit Yishai-Levi. [amazon]
- The protagonist (Indian-Jewish) from “Book of Rachel” by Esther David. [amazon]
- The writer (Indian-Jewish) of “Burnt Bread and Chutney: Growing Up Between Cultures” by Carmit Delman. [amazon]
- The family (Mexican-Jewish) in “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende. [amazon]
Jewish Characters of Color in Movies
- “The Prince of Egypt” (USA, 1998). [imdb]
- “Live and Become” (France, 2005) is about Ethiopian Jewish folx. [wiki]
- “Eyes Wide Open” (Israel, 2009) is about two Israeli men of color falling in love. [wiki]
- “Gramophone” (India, 2003) is about an Indian-Jewish family. [imdb]
- “The Rabbi’s Cat” (France, 2011) is an animated film about Jewish Algerians. [wiki]
- “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan” (USA, 2008) has Moroccan Jewish actress Emmanuelle Chriqui. [imdb]
And @s4karuna found this [list of Black Jewish films] that premiered at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and this [list of films and videos for multiracial Jewish folx].
Jewish Characters of Color in other media
- Zatanna Zatara (Jewish-Rromani) from DC Comics’ “Bombshells”.
- Suki Leiber (Japanese-Jewish) from the comic “Goofyfoot Gurl”. [amazon]
- Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Jewish Rromani) from Marvel Comics.
- Technically Wanda’s children, by virtue of being twins and her kids, should also be Jewish-Rromani, but only Billy is ever acknowledged to be Jewish and none of them have their Rromani heritage acknowledged in comic.
- Jamie Wellerstein from [this production] of “The Last Five Years” is Black and Jewish.
Characters of color that might be Jewish
- Meyer Wolfshiem in “The Great Gatsby” (2013)
- The novel says that he’s Jewish and he’s played by an Indian actor in the film so he could technically be seen as Indian Jewish.
- Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton: An American Musical” (2016)
- Alexander Hamilton has Jewish roots and is played by a Puerto Rican actor in the original production and always by actors of color. The real Hamilton’s Jewish connection was because of his stepfather and it’s possible that his mom was Jewish. It’s sure he was educated in a Jewish school, maybe because he couldn’t go to Catholic school because he was illegitimate.
- Edna Mode in “The Incredibles” (2004)
- She’s part Japanese and she was based on Jewish designer Edith Head.
A million thanks to @s4karuna for being the best researcher known to humanity and finding so many awesome media, and also to @binoctis, @apolloniae, @bnckybarnes, @redravensunrise, @femmefareeha, @margueritelareine and @devenircyborg for their amazing additions.
Chiron and Kevin
(Moonlight; USA; Dir. Barry Jenkins)
Lady Hideko and Sook-hee
(The Handmaiden; South Korea, Dir. Park Chan-Wook)
Kelly and Yorkie
(Black Mirror, 2011-still running; episode s03e04: San Junipero)
Amanita Caplan & Nomi Marks, and Hernando Fuentes & Lito Rodriguez
(Sense8, 2015-still running, the 2016 Christmas Special is on Netflix now)
Annalise Keating and Eve Rothlo
(How To Get Away With Murder; 2014-still running)
Kevin Cozner and Raymond Holt
(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 2013-still running)
Kisa and Manola Jimenez
(From Dusk Till Dawn, 2014-?, no renewal for a fourth season confirmed)
Root and Sameen Shaw
(Person of Interest, 2011-2016, ended/cancelled)
Kareema and Sofía
(No Tomorrow; 2016-?; first season will be up for streaming on Netflix in January 2017 and it might get a second season on Netflix depending on its views)
Corey and Mason Hewitt
(Teen Wolf, 2011-2017, last season airing now)
Amy Raudenfeld & Sabrina; and Noah & Shane Harvey
(Faking It; 2014-2016, cancelled, you can read the creator’s Goodbye Letter here)
Alexander Lightwood and Magnus Bane
(Shadowhunters, 2016-still running, second season premiered January 2nd 2017)
Anne Bonny and Max
(Black Sails, 2014-2017, last season airing January 29th 2017)
Chantall and Nova Bordelon
(Queen Sugar, 2016-second season confirmed, first season will be up for streaming on the WatchOWN app in January 2017)
Dizzee Kipling and Thor
(The Get Down, 2016-?, second half of the first season will be streaming on Netflix during 2017, renewal hasn’t been confirmed)
[images: square pictures of the celebrities listed below, arranged in rows of three square pictures each.] // #coming out cw, #outing cw, #transphobia cw
Rowan Blanchard, in January 2016, tweeted about being “open to liking any gender in the future, which is why I identify as queer”.
Amandla Stenberg came out as bisexual in January 2016 via the Teen Vogue Snapchat, though they later talked about preferring the label “pansexual” and not using it due to people’s ignorance. They also stated that they prefer gender-neutral pronouns, though they’d rather keep it low-profile so it won’t affect their career.
Mara Wilson came out as bisexual in June, while expressing her pain about the Orlando Shooting. She began by talking about her experience in gay bars and, when someone asked if she was gay, she replied with “Bi, but yeah.”
Vincent Rodriguez III made his marriage public by posting a collage for his year and a half anniversary with his husband on Instagram.
Rebecca Sugar came out as bisexual during the San Diego Comic-Con.
Robin Lord Taylor made his marriage public by posting on Twitter a picture of his and his husband’s wedding rings for their 5th anniversary.
Sara Ramirez came out as bisexual with a speech during an event for LGBT Youth in October 2016.
Clea DuVall publicly declared her sexuality during a panel for LGBT writers, explaining that “I’ve played a lot of gay characters, but I haven’t really played a gay character that is gay in a way that is the gay that I feel like I am.”
Lilly Wachowski publicly announced her transition in a statement after various publications threatened to out her without her consent. After addressing the transphobia in the media and the terrible consequences it has, she said, “So yeah, I’m transgender. And yeah, I’ve transitioned.”
Lauren Jauregui was outed when someone leaked her pictures kissing a girl on Twitter, but days later she made her own, public coming out in an open letter to Trump supporters about being “a Bisexual Cuban-American Woman & So Proud of It”.
Gina Rodriguez was asked if she was gay on Twitter, to which she answered “I don’t need anyone to define their sexuality to me nor do I feel the need to either. I love hearts.”
Stephanie Beatriz came out as bisexual on Twitter, quoting Aubrey Plaza’s “I fall in love with girls and guys. I can’t help it” in a tweet.
Jordan Raskopoulos came out as trans in February 2016, in a Facebook video where she said, “I am transgender. No shit. That’s right, I’m a girl. I am transgender.”
Brianna Hildebrand announced that she has a girlfriend on Twitter. She was asked if she had a boyfriend, and she replied, “Kind of except she’s a girl”.
Kareema (No Tomorrow): pansexual Indian woman, currently engaged to a latina. She’s a main character, and her story with Sofía begins at s01e06.
No Tomorrow is available on Netflix.
Pippy Rosewood (Rosewood): a black lesbian, from the beginning of the show she’s engaged to her bisexual girlfriend Tara. She’s the lead’s sister, a main character, and gets a good third of the show’s screentime.
Rosewood is on Fox and is in its second season, which means 1) it might survive and 2) you can get eps on the Fox website and Hulu, but only the current season.
Nova Bordelon (Queen Sugar): a black bisexual, dates a straight white dude (RIP) and a black lesbian through the course of season 1. One of the three leads of the show. Her story with Chantal begins in s01e06.
Queen Sugar is on OWN and you can watch it on the official app.
Warnings for the show: talks of rape and police brutality.
Max (Black Sails): a black lesbian, from the very first episode we know she’s involved with another main lady. She’s a main character (out of six mains, three are sapphic women and at least one of the men is gay), and her arc and her romances get around a third of the screentime.
Black Sails is on STARZ, and the first three seasons are on Netflix. You can go to their website or STARZ on Demand. I don’t have cable, but sometimes Amazon will have a workaround.
Warnings for the show: rape (timestamps here), general violence.
Lady Ella and Pamela (Saints and Sinners): Ella is a black bisexual and Pamela a black lesbian. Both are leading characters, and the center of the story is Ella’s family; and they have an ongoing relationship through the show.
You can watch Saints and Sinners on the official Bounce TV website.
Warnings: It’s rated tv14 so there isn’t anything explicit.
Lena Adams (The Fosters): Lena is a black lesbian and one of the two leads of the show. The story is about her, her wife Stef and their adopted children.
You can watch it on the Freeform website or on Netflix.
Warnings: Addiction, rape, alcoholism.
Trigger warning and timestamp for the rape scenes in Black Sails:
- From 39.05 to 40.20 we see Max chained and bloody, talking to Vane.
- From 47.00 to 47.10 we get a glimpse of Vane’s crew grabbing her.
- The scene of the gang r*pe begins at 48.00.
- At 48.25 Eleanor comes in to rescue her, and fights with the men until around 49.30.
- At 50.45, after the fight is over, Max talks to Eleanor and tells her she’s staying with Vane and his crew.
- At minute 20.00 one of the men attacks Max.
- The scene switches to a shot of Anne at 21:15.
- Max’s screams can be heard until 21:35.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend (currently in its second season): About a mentally ill lawyer who drops everything and moves across country following an ex boyfriend from when she was a teenager, convincing herself that it’ll be the cure for her depression and anxiety.
It has a Filipino romantic male lead, my second favorite bisexual male character in television, a very crude and very real talk about mental illness and toxic relationships, a good episode dedicated to abortion, and the coolest black girl in television. Also, it’s pretty body-positive, and Filipino fans have talked about how good the Chan family is written! The second season officially has no white cishet male characters in any lead roles, which is pretty damn rare.
It’s hilarious, though painful to watch if you have a hard time dealing with secondhand embarrassment. Though it’s a comedy, there are also very sad moments, since it doesn’t tiptoe around its talk about mental illness at all.
Warning: Rebecca’s relationship with Josh is straight up abusive (Rebecca is the abusive one, just to be clear). Though the show acknowledges this, it might be upsetting to watch.
No Tomorrow (currently in its first season): About a very uptight and anxious woman who falls for a dude who lives his life without limits because he’s convinced that the world is ending in nine months.
Though the main romance is painfully white and heterosexual, they are also super hilarious and sweet. The best parts of the show, still aren’t them, but Evie’s friends: Kareema, a pansexual Indian woman who has the best deadpan line deliveries; Hank, a black man who is also convinced that the world is ending; and Timothy, Evie’s ex who is trying to deal with his anxiety and the end of their relationship.
I haven’t finished the season yet, but so far there hasn’t been a single boring episode and the characters just get better with each episode.
Warning: So far, I’d think none.
Jane The Virgin (currently in its third season): A religious young woman who’s vowed to not have sex until marriage is accidentally inseminated with her boss’ sperm during a regular gynecologic control.
Jane Villanueva, her mom and her grandmother are by far the best characters in the show; there is no shortage of amazing characters and storylines. The show deals with reproductive rights and immigration, most of the main characters are Latinx and there is not a single actor who isn’t absolutely amazing.
The narrator, the Villanueva family and the incredible writing are all amazing, but my favorite thing is that the show (as an USAmerican remake of the Venezuelan telenovela “Juana la Virgen”) is super self-aware of the genre and is constantly pushing the boundaries of telenovela narratives while paying loving homage to Latinx culture.
Warning: The show doesn’t treat its queer characters great (basically they’re either villains or… constantly suffering), and it has a bad habit of putting abuse survivors back into abusive situations all the goddamn time (particularly Luisa and Petra). Also, it doesn’t have many black characters (Gina in afro-latina but her character isn’t) and out of the very small number, two are violent villains who die awful deaths. Not a good image.
Selfie (cancelled after the first season): A social-media addicted woman who has no real life friends and a very uptight man who doesn’t have very much of a life outside of work start working in “improving” each other, her teaching him to be more social and him trying to make her less self-centered.
First of all, the fact that John Cho plays a romantic lead should be enough to make anyone want to see this. But the show is incredibly sweet, the secondary characters are all amazing, and Eliza and Henry invented being Lawful Heterosexuals (also height differences).
There is not a single boring scene or episode in the entire show, which one should guess since John Cho is the creator and the lead, of course.
Warning: I remember feeling a little uncomfortable about Eliza’s relationship wit food and her body image, but otherwise I didn’t find it an upsetting watch at all.