RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond is full of talented people just waiting to be discovered, but have you ever wondered which living celebrities have their origins in this city?
8News has got you covered with a short list of those who have reached international recognition for their creative exploits in Hollywood and beyond.
Legendary neo-soul and R&B artist D’Angelo was born and raised in South Richmond, developing an early love for music at his family’s Pentecostal church. In 1995, “Brown Sugar” — D’Angelo’s debut album — was released to critical acclaim. Five years later, he released “Voodoo” — a widely recognized classic that regularly features on “Greatest of All Time” lists.
Jason Mraz is known for his mellow sound and soulful storytelling and some of those stories are inspired by Richmond. Mraz grew up in Mechanicsville — receiving an education from Hanover County Public Schools and the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) — and his lyrics sometimes draw inspiration from personal experiences of growing up in Richmond.
Beloved indie singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus was born and raised in Mechanicsville and attended Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. She has garnered acclaim for both her solo work and her work as part of the indie supergroup Boygenius. Earlier this year, Boygenius released “The Record” to massive critical and commercial success.
Wes Borland — known most prominently as the guitarist and backing vocalist for the nu metal band Limp Bizkit — was born in Richmond on Feb. 7, 1975. During the height of Limp Bizkit’s mainstream success in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Borland also started the band Big Dumb Face with his brother Scott. He is renowned for his experimental and innovative guitar style.
Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann’s influence on American alternative rock music in the 1990s continues to be felt to this day. Mann was born in Richmond and grew up in Bon Air and attended Midlothian High School. She is best known for her solo music, her work with the band ‘Til Tuesday, and her work in film and television on “The West Wing,” “The Big Lebowski,” and the soundtrack for “Magnolia.”
The brilliant mind behind some of the greatest television shows of all time, Vince Gilligan, was born in Richmond on Feb. 10, 1967. Before creating and serving as showrunner for “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” Gilligan attended L.C. Bird High School and graduated in 1985. Gilligan got his start in television serving as a writer on episodes of “The X-Files” and its spinoff series, “The Lone Gunmen.”
Before he blazed the trail for New Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, Academy Award-winning actor, director and writer Warren Beatty was born in Richmond. Beatty’s breakout role was as Clyde Barrow in “Bonnie and Clyde” a landmark picture that broke many cinematic taboos of its time. Some other notable works in Beatty’s numerous credits include his work on “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” “Shampoo,” “Reds,” “Bugsy,” and “Bulworth.”
Shirley MacLaine has received numerous accolades as an actor in her extensive career. She grew up with her brother, the aforementioned Warren Beatty, in Richmond before moving to a number of places throughout the Commonwealth. MacLaine is best known for her feature film roles in “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Apartment,” “Terms of Endearment,” “Being There” and “Steel Magnolias.”
Constance Wu — best known for her performance in the lead role “Crazy Rich Asians” — experienced a meteoric rise during the 2010s, even ranking in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in 2017. She was born in Richmond to parents who had emigrated from Taiwan and attended Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico County. In 2014, Wu starred in the ABC comedy series “Fresh Off the Boat,” kicking off an impressive acting career. In 2022, she released her first book, the memoir “Making a Scene.”
Chad L. Coleman
Chad L. Coleman was born in Richmond and raised by his grandmother before attending Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). In 2004, he was featured as a recurring character in the third and fourth seasons of “The Wire.” Since then, Coleman has had a busy career in film and television perhaps known best for his performances in “The Walking Dead,” “Roots,” “The Expanse” and “Left 4 Dead 2.”
Caroline Aaron has had a prolific career as a character actor in film and television dating back to her early film roles in the 1980s. Aaron was born and raised in Richmond and attended Douglas S. Freeman High School. She is best known for her performances in “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Edward Scissorhands,” and most recently in her role in the television series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Mickie James is known for her tenure as a professional wrestler with WWE and the National Wrestling Alliance. She was born in Richmond and attended school at Patrick Henry High School in Hanover County. She is a five-time Impact Knockouts World Champion and is still currently signed with Impact Wrestling.
Hometown hero heavy metal band, GWAR, is a staple of the city of Richmond. The group was formed in 1984 and features an ever-rotating lineup of members. GWAR is best known for its impressive costumes and elaborate satirical science fiction mythology. Since the group’s inception, they have released 15 studio albums, two live albums and numerous other projects — including GWARbar, a themed bar and restaurant in Jackson Ward.
Rock legend Pat Benatar isn’t actually from Richmond. She was born and raised in New York City. However, at the age of 20, she moved to Richmond with her first husband and worked as a bank teller for a time. It was in Richmond that she saw Liza Minnelli in concert and was inspired to start performing herself… the rest is history.
Lamb of God
The new wave heavy metal band, Lamb of God, was formed by students at VCU in Richmond in 1994. They have released 11 studio albums — including two under the name Burn the Priest — receiving Grammy nominations for the album “Wrath.”
Is there anyone we missed? Let us know which Richmond celebrities would be worth including by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.