It’s no secret that Hollywood is a rather insulated place. Most people that make it in the industry typically have connections, and what better connection is there than family? While some Hollywood starts struggle to escape the shadow of their famous families, some are so successful in making a name for themselves that most of us don’t realize how their famous connections helped them climb the ladder.
Realizing the connection between some of these celebrities is bound to be a eureka moment. You may not have noticed some of these famous stars shared last names until now, but don’t worry, we’ll help you connect the dots. Check out our list of surprising celebrity relatives and prepare to be surprised.
Pete Wentz and Colin Powell
During an episode of the podcast Armchair Expert, Pete shared with actor Dax Shepard a lot of fascinating tidbits about his family history. Pete happens to come from a very accomplished family, but their success is not from the entertainment world, as you might expect. Pete’s IMDB page mentions that his mother is Jamaican, and yet it’s not a widely known fact, Pete’s grandfather was actually a US Ambassador to Sierra Lione, and his parents met while working on former Vice President Joe Biden’s senatorial campaign in the 1970s. We think knowing this makes it slightly less shocking that he is related to former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. It turns out Pete’s grandfather was Colin Powell’s cousin!
Al Roker and Lenny Kravitz
In an episode of the Today show, Al Rocker revealed the strange and amazing fact that he and Lenny Kravitz are actually related! As it turns out, their grandfathers were cousins! Lenny confirmed the fact, and mentioned that his mother’s name was actually Roxie Roker! The host and the rockstar are able to trace their lineage to the Bahamas, and we just can’t believe the odds of them ending up in the same industry and in the United States. We do however feel a little bad for Al; he’s been robbed of the chance to be the coolest relative at family reunions by none other than Lenny Kravitz.
Kate Spade and David Spade
Designer Kate Spade passed away earlier this year, and many people were not aware of her relation to the comedian David Spade until he spoke out after her death (see what we meant about last names?!). David and Kate aren’t directly related, but we’d say it still counts. Kate was married to David’s brother Andy, with whom she shared a daughter. The couple had been married since 1994, CNN reported, so it’s apparent that Kate and David would have known each other for a long time. Of course, they also remained connected by David’s niece.
Melissa McCarthy and Jenny McCarthy
Comedy and acting clearly runs in the family for Melissa and Jenny Mccarthy. The cousins are the same age, and after growing up in Illinois, it turns out Jenny helped Melissa get her first Hollywood job after she landed her sitcom, Jenny. Despite growing up together, Us Weekly reports that Melissa did not even attend Jenny’s wedding to her husband Donnie. We hope that it’s just a matter of busy schedules rather than any feud between the actresses. We’re still holding out hope that they’ll grace us with a big screen collab someday.
Yara Shahidi and Nas
Star of the television shows Blackish and Grownish Yara Shahidi seems to have sprung up out of nowhere, but she actually has a surprising connection to the entertainment world. Yara’s mom is cousins with rapper Nas (making them second cousins). Yara was even at Nas and singer Kelis’ wedding (I.E. the woman who blessed us with the iconic song “Milkshake”). Essence reported that a recent throwback photo revealed that Yara was the flower girl at the wedding. Nas also makes occasional appearances on Yara’s Instagram during family reunions, so it seems they’re a tight-knit bunch.
Brandy and Snoop Dogg
Nineties music would certainly have been lacking without the contributions of these two cousins. Rapper Snoop Dogg and R&B singer Brandy are first cousins, and overall they seem to be pretty close. So close, in fact, that the two collaborated on a song called “Special” with Pharrell a few years ago. A lot of people were uncomfortable because the song is not really the sort of thing you want to sing with your cousin. Ahem. In other news, Snoop and Brady’s families are clearly musically gifted because they’re also related to the legendary rock and roll musician Bo Didley.
Steven Spielberg and Jessica Capshaw
Jessica Capshaw is mostly known for her role as Arizona on Grey’s Anatomy. Most people don’t know that she is director Steven Spielberg’s stepdaughter. Spielberg married her mom, actress Kate Capshaw in 1991. Spielberg originally met Kate while she was starring in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and they’ve been together ever since. In addition to that film, Spielberg has directed popular films like Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park. The director is reportedly worth almost $4 billion dollars. Jessica may no longer be working on Grey’s, but if she ever falls on hard times, she can certainly call up her stepdad for a bit of help.
Elle King and Rob Schneider
Blues singer Elle King has definitely made a name for herself despite her father’s legacy. Elle was born to comedian Rob Schneider and model London King but mostly grew up in Ohio with her mom and stepdad according to People. Elle has been candid about the fact that she didn’t see her father much during her childhood because he was such a workaholic. She explains that they’ve since improved their relationship, partially because of her younger half-sisters. Elle’s career took off after she released the hit, “Ex’s and Oh’s,” and Rob has joked that people now refer to him as “Elle’s dad.”
Beyonce and Bianca Lawson
Beyonce and actress Bianca Lawson became stepsisters when Beyonce’s mom, Tina Knowles, married Bianca’s dad, actor Richard Lawson in 2015. Bianca, who currently stars on Queen Sugar, has been featured on many shows from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, to Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries. She’s been acting since before she hit the double digits, and at thirty-nine-years old, she’s known for not aging (she still plays teenagers). They may only be related by marriage, but Beyonce and Bianca seem to share their amazing genes, and to be honest, they kind of look alike. Let the conspiracy theories begin…
Alexander and Stellan Skarsgard
It turns out that the Skarsgards are a hidden dynasty in Hollywood. Stellan Skarsgard has been in many popular films including Mamma Mia and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. His son is none other than actor Alexander Skarsgard, who is best known for his roles on True Blood and Big Little Lies. It turns out there are even more Skarsgards in Hollywood; Alexander’s brother Gustaf is also an actor, and currently stars on Westworld according to Refinery29. Their brother Bill was Pennywise in IT, which would probably be a big deal in any other family. All this time people have been raving about the Kardashians, we really should have been keeping up with the Skarsgards. Just imagine that reality show.
Melanie Griffith and Dakota Johnson
Star of the Fifty Shades of Grey films Dakota Johnson comes from a family that has a long legacy in Hollywood. Her mother Melanie Griffith has been acting since she was a child, and is best known for films like Working Girl. The family’s legacy began long before her career started. Melanie’s mother was Tippi Hendren, who is best known for collaborating with director Alfred Hitchcock on Birds and Marnie, IMDB reports. While Dakota and Melanie have had some awkward moments in front of the camera (the two once bickered on camera after Melanie candidly admitted she hadn’t seen Fifty Shades), they’ve been each other’s dates to Hollywood events for decades now.
Quincy and Rashida Jones
Actress Rashida Jones has impressively managed to build her own fanbase outside of her legendary father’s legacy. Record producer and musician Quincy Jones has a whopping twenty-seven Grammys to his name and was nominated for an even more astonishing seventy-nine. He produced three of Michael Jackson’s albums as well as the famous charity single, “We Are The World,” Popsugar reports. Meanwhile, Rashida is best known for her role in Parks & Rec and her appearance in The Office. These two maintain a close relationship, and Rashida even directed a documentary about his life for Netflix called Quincy.
Zoey Deutch and Lea Thompson
Best known for her role in the adorable Netflix romcom, Set It Up, Zoey Deutch is the daughter of the actress Lea Thompson. Lea is best known for playing the mom in the Back To The Future films and starring as Tom Cruise’s love interest in All The Right Moves, Popsugar reports. Lea had a long and successful run in the 80’s and 90’s, and she still acts. Recently she played Kathryn in Switched At Birth. The Thompson / Deutch family is clearly full of talent. In 2017 Thompson directed and starred in the film The Year Of Spectacular Men, which Zoey produced and starred in along with her sister Madelyn, who wrote the script and composed the score. Patriarch Howard Deutch was also a co-producer.
Sarah Palin and Halle Berry
We have a really hard time wrapping our heads around this one, but it turns out that actress Halle Berry is related to the former Alaskan governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Halle is best known for roles like Catwoman and Monster’s Ball (she made history by being the only black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress ). Suffice to say, Halle is an A-list actress. It’s understandable that she was also shocked to find out she was related to Palin. Berry told Extra, “In some twisted way…somebody sent me this information that she was somehow my distant…No! Aahh!” Sadly it seems her shock kept her from elaborating on just how she’s related to Palin, so we’re left hanging until another reporter decides to ask her about the connection.
Monica and Ludacris
Another cousin duo that’s important to music: singer Monica and rapper Ludacris. Known for hit songs like “Get Back” and “Money Maker,” Ludacris has also ventured into the big screen in the Fast And Furious films. It turns out that Ludacris’ second cousins R&B singer Monica, who is best known for songs like “Angel of Mine” and “The Boy Is Mine” (the famous duet she did with Brandy). When asked about her relationship with her cousin, Monica had this to say; “Before there were Ludacris and Monica, there was Christoper Bridges and Mo, and we were just always close.”
Viola Davis And Mike Colter
What are the odds that two famous Hollywood actors from the same small town are second cousins? Apparently, the odds are higher than you think! Mike Colter, who is best known for his role as Luke Cage in Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, is related to Emmy, Tony, and Academy Award winner Viola Davis. Both the actors are from St. Matthews, South Carolina, but Viola’s family moved to Rhode Island when she was young. This probably explains why, as of 2016, the pair had yet to meet, but Mike told Essence that he knew Viola’s family and said, “I’m sure our paths will cross at some point.”
Lily And Alfie Allen
British singer Lily Allen’s brother, Alfie Allen, stars as Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones. Lily is best known for songs like “Smile” and “Hard Out Here,” but she’s even written one about her brother called “Alfie.” The song is mostly about him being a lazy little brother, so we can imagine it’s not his favorite. It’s not the only time there’s been some tension between the siblings either, after Lily mentioned that she was asked to appear on GOT in a cameo that would have required her to get romantic with her real-life brother (?!) Alfie publicly denied the claims and forbid her from talking about the show in public, Bustle reports. We’re hoping it was all a big misunderstanding…
Blake And Robyn Lively
Unbeknownst to many, actress Blake Lively has a big sister in the biz! Robyn Lively is best known for the cult-classic Teen Witch, but she’s also guest-starred in pretty much every TV show imaginable. If you’re wondering why there isn’t more of a resemblance between the two, it’s because they’re half-siblings. Confusingly enough, the two have the same mom, but they share a last name. Robyn and Blake’s mom took on the name of Robyn’s father while they were married, she kept the name when they got divorced, and then Blake’s father also took on the name when he married her. Blake’s last name is Brown like her father, but she uses Lively as her stage name. We love a family that ignores convention.
Allison Williams And Brian Williams
Allison Williams of Girls and Get Out fame spent most of her life being known as the “daughter of NBC journalist Brian Williams,” and apparently she hated it. She told the L.A. Times, “Now people almost never bring it up…I formed my own thing and now I get people who are surprised he’s my dad. I dreamed that would happen.” Allison has successfully achieved the dream most children of public figures have of creating their own legacy. The timing worked out well for Allison since her father lost a lot of credibility when he was suspended from NBC for exaggerating accounts of his fieldwork in Iraq, Us Weekly reports.
Marlon, Shawn, and Damon Jr. Wayans
You may be familiar with some of the Wayans, but you probably don’t know how extensive their work is in Hollywood, and just how many of them there are. It turns out Elvira Green and Howell Wayans had ten children, which explains why it’s so difficult to keep track! The majority of the Wayans siblings are in the entertainment industry, but the most famous are arguably frequent collaborators Marlon and Shawn (White Chicks). These two also created the Scary Movie series with their brother Keenan Ivory Wayans. Their brother Damon Wayans is best known for his sitcom My Wife and Kids, and his son Damon Wayans Jr. has risen above his success with his roles in New Girl, Happy Endings, and Happy Together.