This top list might not be what you think it might is. But what top list on the internet ever is?
Since I started the South LA Recap over a month ago, I’ve been doing a lot of research around the region. In the past, you can find community heroes, politicians, musicians, and entrepreneurs in South LA. But the present is no different. There are still so many people here who share the same tenacity and desire to excel. Some in popular music, others on the big screen, and several more making discrete but powerful differences in this city.
In celebration of excellence in South LA, I’m highlighting 5 notable people that have roots in the region. Of course, there are more than 5 notable people across the region. And there are so many more outside of the of entertainment. But I’m only one person, and it will take me time before I have the opportunity to interview most of them.
But I can assure you that this is the first of many posts recognizing the most influential people who were born in South LA.
1. Tiffany Haddish
Odds are that you’ve at least snickered at a line delivered by this laugh-out-loud actress. Tiffany Haddish is from South Central, but I haven’t seen a single news agency or tabloid report where she grew up exactly in the region. On Wikipedia–I know out of all places–she’s listed as a notable person who is from the Crenshaw District in South LA.
Haddish is known for her bold comedic roles in movies such as Girls Trip, Like A Boss, and Keanu (my personal favorite).
2. Mike Love
I know. You’re probably shocked: He doesn’t look like he should be on this list. He is pretty old. But did you know that he is one of the cofounders of the Beach Boys–you know one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s. And yes, he was born in South LA? Well, not the South LA that you may be familiar with. Love was born in Baldwin Hills in 1941, which is well before many people of color were able to buy a home there. And most black people and other people of color didn’t start moving to Baldwin Hills until around 1960.
3. Peter Ramsey
I know. I know. Again, you’re like, “Who is this guy?!” Well, let me ask you a question first: Did you watch Spider-Man: Into the Spidey-Verse in 2018? Well Spider-Man isn’t from South LA, but the co-director for the film is, which is Peter Ramsey.
Peter Ramsey is an American film director, illustrator, and writer. And his animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spidey-Verse won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2019. He was also a story artist for Shrek the Third.
Ramsey grew up in the Crenshaw District in South Los Angeles–just like Tiffany Haddish. He attended UCLA, studying painting. He also enrolled into Los Angeles City College to take film classes.
4. Jamesetta Hawkins
Does this name ring a bell? Well, she may be better known by her stage name, Etta James, the talented Jazz, R&B, and soul singer. Her stage name is a play on his first name, actually: Jamesetta–Etta James.
James was born in South LA, and spent her formative years in Watts. Odds are, you’ve heard one of Etta James’ songs in a movie. Her most famous song is “At Last,” that soulful ballad that plays toward the end of a romance drama once love has been kindled, usually at the end of a movie.
5. Regina King
Yes, award-winning actress Regina King is from South LA…by association. King grew up in the View-Park Windsor Hills neighborhood in South Los Angeles, which is, according to the LA Times, the most affluent neighborhood in all of South Los Angeles.
King attended 54th Street Elementary School until the fourth grade, when she was one of the first few rounds of intercity students bussed to less integrated schools in the late 70s.
King has four emmys, which is more than any other black performer to date. Her fourth was for her lead role in HBO’s Watchmen limited series. She is also showcasing her directorial chops this year. While she directed a few episodes of Scandal and This Is Us, King recently released her debut movie directorial, One Night in Miami. It’s out on Amazon Prime now. And my wife and I just watched it yesterday. It’s pretty neat.
That’s it for this Top 5 Roundup in South LA. Do you have any notable picks from South LA? Leave them down in the comment section!