15 Famous People Born in Hawaii

When you think about Hawaii, you might picture its stunning beaches and vibrant culture, but did you know it’s also the birthplace of several prominent figures? From Barack Obama to Bruno Mars, these individuals have made significant impacts in politics, music, sports, and more.

Hawaii’s influence stretches far beyond its shores, touching various facets of the global stage. Curious to learn how an island state has produced such a diverse array of talent? Let’s delve into the stories behind these 15 famous Hawaiians and their remarkable contributions.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His early life on the islands significantly influenced his character and political career. Obama attended Punahou School, one of Hawaii’s most prestigious educational institutions, which shaped his worldview and provided a quality education.

Growing up in Hawaii exposed Obama to a diverse mix of cultures and traditions, fostering a unique perspective on unity and inclusiveness. These values were evident throughout his presidency, where he emphasized the importance of community and collaboration. The multicultural environment of Hawaii prepared him well to address the complexities of a diverse nation.

Obama’s connection to Hawaii remains strong. Even after his presidency, he frequently returns to the islands, reinforcing his ties to his birthplace. People born in Hawaii often have a deep-rooted sense of identity and pride, which influenced Obama’s path to becoming a global leader.

Bruno Mars

You can’t talk about famous Hawaiians without mentioning Bruno Mars, who was born and raised in Honolulu. Starting with musical roots in O’ahu, he evolved from an Elvis impersonator to a global superstar with chart-topping hits.

His journey from local talent to Grammy-winning artist highlights the profound impact of his early life and musical beginnings.

Early Life in Honolulu

Growing up in the vibrant neighborhood of Waikiki, Bruno Mars, born as Peter Gene Hernandez, was immersed in music from a young age, thanks to his musically talented family. His parents, both musicians, made music a fundamental part of the household, laying the foundation for his future success. This early exposure enabled him to master various instruments and develop a natural flair for performance.

As a child, Mars captivated audiences by impersonating Elvis Presley, honing his stage presence and showcasing his talent. While Hawaii is often associated with beautiful beaches and lush landscapes, for Mars, it was also a nurturing ground for his musical gifts. During his time at Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, he continued to refine his musical abilities.

The people he met and the experiences he’d in Hawaii deeply influenced his eclectic musical style, blending pop, R&B, and funk. His upbringing in Honolulu played a pivotal role in shaping the artist he’d become.

Musical Career Beginnings

Bruno Mars, originally from Honolulu, began his professional career by moving to Los Angeles and signing with a record label. Growing up with a father who was a Latin percussionist and a mother who was a singer, he was immersed in a musically rich environment that showcased his talents early on. His memorable Elvis Presley impersonations in Waikiki laid the foundation for his future success.

During his time at Roosevelt High School, Mars honed his skills and deepened his passion for music. The school provided a platform for him to experiment with different musical styles and develop his unique sound.

After graduating, he realized that to achieve his dreams, he’d to leave Hawaii and move to Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry.

In LA, Mars faced numerous challenges but eventually caught the attention of a record label. His persistence paid off as he began producing catchy pop singles like ‘The Lazy Song’ and ‘Grenade.’ These hits showcased his versatile talent and propelled him toward becoming a Grammy Award-winning artist.

Global Superstar Status

Bruno Mars consistently captivates audiences worldwide with his electrifying performances and chart-topping hits. Born Peter Gene Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii, he’s taken the music world by storm. Known for massive hits like ‘Just the Way You Are’ and ‘Uptown Funk,’ Bruno Mars has firmly established himself as a global superstar. His ability to blend diverse musical styles, combined with his engaging stage presence, keeps fans coming back for more.

Bruno Mars’ musical journey began in Waikiki, where he grew up in a musically inclined family. His exceptional talent was evident from a young age, as he impersonated Elvis Presley before graduating from Roosevelt High School in Honolulu. From there, he quickly rose to fame, collaborating with various artists and creating chart-topping hits that dominate the airwaves.

With multiple Grammy Awards to his name, Bruno Mars’ accolades are a testament to his talent and hard work. His catchy pop singles, including ‘The Lazy Song’ and ‘Grenade,’ haven’t only topped charts but also captured the hearts of millions globally. Bruno Mars’ relentless dedication and passion confirm his place among the elite in the music industry.

Jack Johnson

boxer and musician icon

Jack Johnson, raised on Oahu’s North Shore, has captivated audiences with his unique blend of acoustic rock and Hawaiian influences. Known for his laid-back surf vibes and heartfelt lyrics, Johnson’s music resonates deeply with fans worldwide. Growing up on the North Shore, a region celebrated for its stunning ocean views and close-knit community, has profoundly shaped his music and lifestyle.

Beyond his musical career, Johnson is a dedicated environmental advocate, focusing on ocean conservation and sustainability. His active participation in these causes highlights his commitment to preserving the natural beauty of his Hawaiian homeland.

Here are key aspects of Jack Johnson’s life:

Aspect Details Impact
Birthplace Oahu’s North Shore Deep connection to Hawaiian culture
Music Style Acoustic rock with Hawaiian influences Unique, relaxing sound loved globally
Environmental Work Advocacy for ocean conservation and sustainability Significant contributions to environmental causes
Awards Multiple music awards Recognition for his talents and contributions

Jack Johnson’s distinctive sound and strong ties to his Hawaiian roots have made him a beloved figure in the music industry. His influence extends beyond music, embodying a deep respect for his heritage and a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton’s journey from a young surfer in Kauai to an international icon is truly inspiring.

Her story of overcoming significant challenges, achieving remarkable milestones in surfing, and inspiring millions is a testament to her resilience and determination.

Let’s explore the incredible journey of this extraordinary athlete.

Early Life Challenges

Facing unimaginable adversity, a 13-year-old surfer from Kauai lost her left arm in a shark attack but refused to let it define her future. Bethany Hamilton, who’d later become a celebrated professional surfer, faced this life-altering event with remarkable courage.

The day of the attack was a nightmare, but it didn’t extinguish her passion for surfing. Remarkably, within just one month, she was back on the board, determined to reclaim her life and dreams.

Bethany’s challenges didn’t stop there. Adjusting to her new reality required immense physical and emotional strength. Simple tasks like paddling out to catch a wave became monumental challenges. However, her resilience shone through. She adapted her techniques, using her remaining arm more effectively and developing a unique surfing style that would allow her to compete at the highest levels.

During this period, Bethany’s family and faith played critical roles in her recovery and determination. Their support, combined with her indomitable spirit, laid the foundation for her future successes.

Her story of overcoming such a traumatic event at a young age continues to inspire countless individuals around the world.

Surfing Career Milestones

Hamilton’s surfing career reached a significant milestone when she won her first national title just two years after a traumatic shark attack. This victory highlighted her resilience and determination, proving that no obstacle could deter her passion for surfing.

Her journey is marked by numerous notable achievements.

Following the shark attack, Hamilton didn’t merely return to the sport; she excelled in it. Her accomplishments in competitive surfing include:

  • 2005 National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) National Championships: This win marked her first major post-attack victory.
  • 2008 NSSA National Championships: Another triumph that established her as a top competitor.
  • 2014 Fiji Women’s Pro: Hamilton received a wildcard entry and finished in third place, competing against the world’s best surfers.
  • 2016 Fiji Women’s Pro: She reached the semifinals, showcasing her skill and tenacity.
  • Recognition in the Surfing Hall of Fame: Honored for her significant contributions and impact on the sport.

Hamilton’s career is a testament to her unyielding spirit and exceptional surfing talent. She continues to inspire many, not just with her victories but with her dedication and ability to overcome life’s challenges.

Inspirational Achievements

Few stories of resilience are as compelling as that of Bethany Hamilton, who turned personal tragedy into global inspiration. After losing her left arm in a shark attack in 2003, she refused to let this setback define her. Bethany returned to surfing just one month later, showcasing her determination and strength. She continued to compete professionally, winning numerous competitions and capturing hearts worldwide with her inspiring journey.

Bethany’s life story, depicted in the movie ‘Soul Surfer,’ highlights her unwavering spirit. Beyond surfing, she’s a motivational speaker, sharing her message of hope and perseverance globally. Her positive attitude and faith have become a beacon of inspiration for those facing challenges.

In addition to her surfing career, Bethany has excelled in other areas. She was honored as Model of the Year, breaking barriers beyond the surfing world. Her advocacy for ocean conservation and involvement in programs to inspire young minds further emphasize her commitment to making a difference.

Moreover, Bethany has trained in Mixed Martial Arts, showcasing her relentless drive and diverse interests.

Lauren Graham

actress author gilmore girls

Lauren Graham, born in Honolulu, is best known for her standout roles in the TV series *Gilmore Girls* and *Parenthood*. Her portrayal of Lorelai Gilmore in *Gilmore Girls* has made her a household name, while her role as Sarah Braverman in *Parenthood* showcased her versatility and depth as an actress. Graham’s performances have earned her critical acclaim and multiple award nominations.

Before gaining widespread recognition, Graham’s acting career began in New York, where she honed her craft in theater. Her evolution to television brought her immense success and an ardent fan base. Beyond TV, she’s also ventured into movies and writing, proving her multifaceted talent.

  • Early Career: Began in New York, focusing on theater.
  • Breakthrough Role: Lorelai Gilmore in *Gilmore Girls*.
  • Versatility: Played Sarah Braverman in *Parenthood*.
  • Author: Written a novel, adding another feather to her cap.
  • Critical Acclaim: Earned multiple award nominations for her TV roles.

Raised in Hawaii, Lauren Graham’s progression from the islands to Hollywood exemplifies her dedication and talent. Her contributions to television and literature have made her one of the most beloved actresses in Hollywood.

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but her family moved to Australia when she was four years old.

This early relocation laid the foundation for her versatile acting career, which has earned her numerous awards and critical acclaim in Hollywood.

Early Life in Hawaii

Nicole Kidman’s early years in Honolulu, where she was born on June 20, 1967, left an indelible mark on her life and career. Although her family relocated to Australia when she was just four years old, the influence of her birthplace lingered.

Growing up in Hawaii gave Kidman a distinctive start that later shaped her versatile acting career. Here are some key aspects of her early life:

  • Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Early Environment: Immersed in the island’s rich culture
  • Family Move: Relocated to Australia at the age of four
  • Influence: Early years in Hawaii left a lasting impact

Nicole’s formative years in Hawaii contributed to her broad outlook and adaptability, crucial traits for her success in the film industry. These early experiences helped set the stage for her to become a celebrated actress known for her diverse roles.

Even though she left Hawaii at a young age, the island’s spirit continued to influence her throughout her life and career.

Career Highlights and Awards

Throughout her illustrious career, Nicole Kidman has garnered international acclaim for her versatile performances and has received numerous prestigious awards. Notably, she’s won four Golden Globe Awards, reflecting her remarkable ability to embody a diverse array of characters, from intense dramas to gripping thrillers.

Kidman’s versatility is further highlighted by her Oscar-winning performance in ‘The Hours,’ where she portrayed Virginia Woolf with captivating depth. Her role in ‘Moulin Rouge!’ also earned her widespread recognition and showcased her singing talents. In addition to her Golden Globes, she’s earned an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and a BAFTA.

One of her most significant contributions to television is her role in ‘Big Little Lies,’ which earned her critical acclaim and solidified her status as a powerhouse in the industry. Beyond acting, Kidman is a dedicated philanthropist, advocating for causes including women’s rights and environmental issues.

Kidman’s influence even extends into political spheres, as her advocacy work often aligns with significant movements. Her career is a testament to her talent, dedication, and impact both on and off the screen.

Jason Momoa

hawaiian actor aquaman role

Born on August 1, 1979, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Jason Momoa has captivated audiences with his commanding screen presence and diverse roles. Emerging as one of the most prominent figures from Hawaii’s entertainment scene, Momoa is best known for his portrayal of powerful characters, most notably Aquaman.

Initially aiming to study marine biology at Kapiʻolani Community College, he later shifted his focus to acting, a decision that would propel his career to new heights. Momoa furthered his acting education at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, where he honed his skills and developed the talent that would make him a household name.

Whether portraying a superhero or a fierce warrior, his charisma and physical presence are undeniable.

  • Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Birthday: August 1, 1979
  • Education: New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts
  • Early Ambition: Initially aimed to study marine biology
  • High School: Graduated from Damien Memorial School

Jason Momoa’s journey from Honolulu to Hollywood is a testament to his dedication and talent. His diverse roles in film and television have garnered him a strong fan following, making him a standout figure in the entertainment industry.

Marcus Mariota

You can’t talk about famous people from Hawaii without mentioning Marcus Mariota. He made history as the first Hawaii native to win the Heisman Trophy.

He continued to make waves in the NFL with teams like the Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, and most recently, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Let’s explore his early life and the key achievements of his NFL career.

Early Life Highlights

Growing up in Honolulu, Marcus Mariota quickly showcased his athletic talent, setting the stage for his future success in football. From a young age, he displayed exceptional athletic prowess, excelling in both football and track. His childhood was filled with moments of speed and agility, honed on the fields and tracks of Hawaii.

At Saint Louis School, Marcus’s high school achievements became legendary. He didn’t just participate; he dominated. His performances on the field were spectacular, capturing the attention of college scouts nationwide.

Key highlights from his early life include:

  • Athletic prowess: Marcus excelled in multiple sports, particularly football and track events.
  • Childhood memories: He often reminisced about playing sports with friends and family, building his foundational skills.
  • High school accomplishments: At Saint Louis School, he led his team to numerous victories and set multiple records.
  • Leadership qualities: Even as a teenager, Marcus exhibited strong leadership, inspiring his teammates and peers.
  • Community impact: His success brought pride to his local community, making him a role model for young athletes.

These early experiences and achievements laid a solid foundation for Marcus Mariota’s future in football.

NFL Career Achievements

Marcus Mariota’s NFL career is marked by several significant milestones, including becoming the first Hawaii native to win the Heisman Trophy and being selected as the second overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft. Known for his dual-threat capabilities, Mariota excels in both passing and running, highlighting his versatility as a quarterback.

One of Mariota’s standout moments came during a playoff game, where he set an NFL record for the longest touchdown run by a quarterback, showcasing his extraordinary athleticism and ability to make game-changing plays. Throughout his career, Mariota has displayed remarkable resilience, frequently overcoming injuries and adapting to different roles.

Currently, Mariota serves as the quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders, continuing to demonstrate his talent and determination. Despite facing numerous challenges, his career is a testament to his unwavering commitment to the sport, adaptability, and athletic prowess.

Mariota’s journey in the NFL is a tribute to his resilience and notable achievements, solidifying his status as a distinguished figure in the league.

Bette Midler

talented actress and singer

Bette Midler, born on December 1, 1945, in Honolulu, Hawaii, has charmed audiences worldwide with her distinctive voice and vibrant stage presence. As both a Hollywood and Broadway star, she’s garnered numerous accolades, including multiple Grammy and Golden Globe awards. Midler’s journey to fame began in the theater, where she first showcased her extraordinary talent. Her transition to film and music further cemented her status, with standout performances in movies like ‘The Rose’ and ‘Beaches.’

Beyond her entertainment career, Midler is a passionate advocate for environmental causes and philanthropy. She founded the New York Restoration Project, which focuses on enhancing parks and community spaces in New York City. Her advocacy work has earned her significant recognition and respect.

Key highlights of Bette Midler’s impact:

  • Hollywood and Broadway star
  • Multiple Grammy and Golden Globe awards
  • Founder of the New York Restoration Project
  • Notable roles in ‘The Rose’ and ‘Beaches’
  • High school accolades: Most Talkative and Most Dramatic

Bette Midler’s legacy reflects her talent, dedication, and commitment to making a positive impact both on and off the stage.

Nicole Scherzinger

Nicole Scherzinger, born in Honolulu on June 29, 1978, has carved out a distinguished career in the entertainment industry with her exceptional vocals and dynamic stage presence. She first gained widespread recognition as the lead vocalist of the Pussycat Dolls, captivating audiences with her powerful singing and engaging performances.

Her talents extend beyond music; Nicole has also made significant contributions to acting and television hosting, showcasing her versatility. Known for her fashion-forward choices, she consistently garners attention on red carpets and stages alike, often pushing boundaries and setting new trends.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Nicole is committed to philanthropy. She actively supports various causes, particularly those focused on children’s welfare and cancer research, reflecting her dedication to making a positive impact on the community.

Nicole’s commitment to fitness is yet another facet of her inspiring lifestyle. She adheres to a rigorous workout regimen that includes dance, yoga, and strength training, which not only enhances her stage performances but also serves as a motivating example for her fans.

Ellison Onizuka

american astronaut from hawaii

Ellison Onizuka, originally from Kealakekua, Hawai’i, made history as the first Asian American astronaut to enter space. His journey was a significant achievement both for space exploration and for Asian American representation. Onizuka spent 74 hours in space during his mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, demonstrating his exceptional skills and inspiring countless individuals.

Growing up in Hawai’i, Onizuka attended Konawaena High School, where he cultivated an early passion for aviation and space. His Hawaiian upbringing instilled in him a strong sense of determination and curiosity, which propelled his ambitious career.

Tragically, Onizuka’s life was cut short during the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, a loss that resonated profoundly across the nation, particularly within the Asian American community. He was seen as a trailblazer and a symbol of potential in fields like space exploration.

In summary, Ellison Onizuka’s life included:

  • First Asian American astronaut to enter space
  • 74 hours spent in space on the Space Shuttle Discovery
  • Education from Konawaena High School
  • Tragic death in the Challenger disaster
  • Enduring legacy that continues to inspire future generations

Max Holloway

Max Holloway, born on December 4, 1991, in Waianae, Hawaii, is a professional MMA fighter renowned for his achievements in the UFC Featherweight division. Known by his nickname ‘Blessed,’ Holloway has garnered a significant following due to his impressive striking and relentless fighting style.

Holloway’s fighting strategy, characterized by precision and endurance, has set him apart in the UFC. He holds the record for the most significant strikes landed in a UFC featherweight fight, a testament to his impeccable timing and relentless pace. This approach has been pivotal in his dominance within the featherweight division, where he consistently outperforms his opponents.

His success is underpinned by a rigorous training regimen focused on strength, agility, and cardiovascular endurance. This intensive preparation ensures Holloway remains in peak physical condition, ready to face any challenger.

Holloway’s journey from Waianae to becoming a UFC Featherweight Champion exemplifies hard work and dedication, serving as an inspiration for aspiring athletes.

Janel Parrish

actress singer dancer star

Janel Parrish, born on October 30, 1988, in Honolulu, Hawaii, is widely recognized for her compelling role as Mona Vanderwaal in the TV series ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ Beginning her acting career at a young age, she’s showcased her talent in various films and TV shows. Her portrayal of Mona earned her critical acclaim and a loyal fan base.

Parrish’s versatility extends beyond acting. She demonstrated her impressive dancing skills on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ captivating both audiences and judges. This added another dimension to her multifaceted career.

In addition to acting and dancing, Janel has ventured into music, releasing several tracks that showcase her singing and songwriting abilities. Her music has been well-received, further highlighting her wide-ranging talents.

Key highlights of Janel Parrish’s career include:

  • Acting: Best known for her role in ‘Pretty Little Liars.’
  • Dancing: Competed on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
  • Music: Released her own music tracks.
  • Early Start: Began acting at a young age.
  • Hawaiian Pride: Represents Hawaii in the entertainment industry.

Janel Parrish continues to shine brightly in Hollywood.

Tia Carrere

Tia Carrere, a Hawaiian-born actress and singer, is best known for her iconic role as Cassandra in the Wayne’s World films. This role catapulted her to fame, firmly establishing her as a prominent figure in Hollywood.

Beyond acting, Carrere has also made significant contributions to the music industry, particularly with her Hawaiian music projects. Carrere has won two Grammy Awards for her outstanding work on Hawaiian music albums, underscoring her versatility and dedication to her cultural heritage. These accolades have garnered her both critical acclaim and a loyal fan base.

In addition to her film success, Carrere has made numerous television appearances, showcasing her acting prowess across various TV shows. Her seamless transition between film and television roles highlights her broad talent and adaptability, further cementing her influence in the entertainment industry.

Michelle Wie

professional golfer and model

Michelle Wie, born on October 11, 1989, in Honolulu, Hawaii, has made a significant impact in professional golf. Turning pro at just 16, she quickly became the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA Tour event.

Known for her powerful swing and versatile golfing skills, Wie has an impressive list of professional achievements. One of her most notable victories came at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, where she secured her first major championship, underscoring her influence on women’s golf.

Off the course, Wie is dedicated to philanthropic efforts and serves as a role model for aspiring young golfers. Her influence extends beyond her athletic accomplishments, inspiring many with her dedication and positive attitude.

Key aspects of Wie’s career include:

  • Golfing Techniques: Renowned for her powerful swing and versatility.
  • Inspirational Victories: Notably her win at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.
  • Philanthropy: Actively involved in community service.
  • Role Model: Encouraging young golfers worldwide.
  • Professional Achievements: Numerous LPGA Tour wins and a major championship.

Michelle Wie’s legacy continues to shape the future of women’s golf and inspire the next generation.


Hawaii boasts an impressive array of talent, featuring influential figures like Barack Obama and Bruno Mars. The state’s diverse background is embodied by athletes such as Max Holloway and Michelle Wie, and entertainers like Janel Parrish and Tia Carrere.

These individuals exemplify the spirit and creativity of Hawaii, proving that the island state’s influence extends far beyond its shores.

Explore more about these remarkable people and their incredible achievements!