VINTAGE PAULA PATTON INTERVIEW ON HER UPBRINGING, ETHNICITY & MEN

'Mission Impossible' Actress Paula Patton: 100,000 Google Her Ethnicity, Nationality & Parents Race Background

ACTRESS PAULA PATTON'S biracial ethnicity places her in the vanguard of Hollywood's preferred look for black stars — and sends eager fans to Google info about her racial background. By Ben Arogundade. [May.05.2016]

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SHE GREW UP ACROSS the street from the 20th Century Fox film studios in Los Angeles, and so perhaps it was fate that Paula Patton would end up in the Hollywood movie business. But although her career got off to a promising start, securing parts in high school plays, it would take a while before she finally got her big break. “I got my first big acting job when I was 28!” Patton told The New York Times. “I was shy, and acting did not seem like a solid profession.” Surprisingly, given Patton's beauty, her progress was also hampered by her appearance. “I had terrible skin all through college,” she recalled. “I kept my hair in my face. I wouldn’t take a photo, and I couldn’t look anyone in the eye.”

PAULA PATTON'S ETHNICITY & PARENTS BIO
The African American star of the films Hitch, Deja Vu, Precious, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol and the upcoming Warcraft, was born Paula Maxine Patton in Los Angeles, California, on December 5, 1975. Her father, African American Charles Patton, is a former defence attorney, while her mother — ex-schoolteacher Joyce Patton Vanraden — is of German ancestry. Given the racial background of her parents, growing up in LA in the 1970s and 80s was beset with challenges. “People judged me because I was light-skinned,” the 40-year-old actress revealed in Women's Health magazine. [They'd assume] I didn't want to be part of the black race.”

BLACK, BIRACIAL, MIXED RACE?
Patton’s childhood experiences were similar to those of other biracial women actors such as Thandie Newton (herself an ex-Mission Impossible cast member) and Halle Berry. Like them, she also holds strong views on race and its diversity of classifications. “I find [the word biracial] offensive,” Patton stated. “It's a way for people to separate themselves from African Americans....a way of saying, 'I'm better than that.' I'm black because that's the way the world sees me. People aren't calling Barack Obama biracial.”

RACE MATTERS
The reality of mixed race relationships in America also affected the early years of her partnership with her ex-husband, white singer-songwriter Robin Thicke. During a radio interview with DJ Howard Stern, the music star revealed how the young couple initially kept their relationship a secret when they first began dating, for fear of a backlash from the African American college community where Patton studied. “In high school she didn’t take me to her prom, because she didn’t want everyone to know she was with a white guy, because she was president of the Black Student Union,” Thicke recalled. The couple later went public, finally getting married in 2005. They separated in February 2014, and were subsequently divorced in April 2015.

PATTON, RACE & GOOGLE
Despite the fact that Patton — who is 5' 7¼" (1.71m) tall — self-identifies as black, many of her fans on the Internet are curious about the precise details of her ethnicity and nationality. According to Google's statistics, approximately 1,500 global Internet users per month search the terms “Paula Patton ethnicity”, and “Is Paula Patton black?”, while a further 4,400 Google Paula's mother, Joyce Patton. The total of queries about the Hollywood star's ethnicity, nationality and parents racial background adds up to approximately 100,000 per month.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MIXED CAST
Back in 2011 the blurred lines of her ethnicity led to her featuring on the cover of the December edition of Arabian Harper's Bazaar, hinting at the actresses ability to appear multi-ethnic — a fact which affords her the advantage of being cast in a broad variety of movie roles. Aesthetically, she fits the traditional blueprint for Hollywood's preferred image of black actresses — lighter-skinned and straighter haired — especially in crossover roles opposite white male co-stars. The Mission Impossible movie series has been proactive in casting biracial women to play opposite Tom Cruise, beginning with British star Thandie Newton in Mission Impossible II. “I’ve found that many of the big movies do not make race an issue in their casting,” says Patton, who plays agent Jane Carter in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. “Hollywood knows that you can’t do all these white films anymore — diversity is more interesting.”

Ben Arogundade's book, 'Black Beauty', is out now.

HOLLYWOOD'S BLURRED COLOR LINE: Actress Paula Patton, star of the films 'Precious', 'Hitch', 'Mission: Impossible 4 - Ghost Protocol', and 'Warcraft', epitomises Hollywood's new crop of biracial women actors. Patton's aesthetically ambiguous beauty has lead thousands of Internet users to ask questions about her ethnicity, the nationality of her parents Charles and Joyce, and whether she identifies as black or biracial.

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PAULA'S WORLD: From the top: Hollywood movie star Paula Patton as a teenager. During high school she kept her relationship with boyfriend Robin Thicke a secret, fearing a backlash from African Americans at the college where she studied, on account of the fact that Thicke was white. FAMILY FRONT: Patton and her mother, Joyce Vanraden, who is of German ancestry. FILM PLUS FASHION: Paula Patton's cross-racial beauty displayed on two magazine covers: She graces the front of the December 2011 edition of 'Harper's Bazaar' Arabian edition; for the spring 2007 cover the 'New York Times T' magazine, Patton was portrayed as a Polynesian-style beauty.

*ACTRESS PAULA PATTON'S ETHNICITY, NATIONALITY, PARENTS — THE STATS

1,500

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrases, “Paula Patton ethnicity”, and “Is Paula Patton black?” each month.

2,500

The number of people worldwide who Google the terms, Paula Patton parents, mother, father, race, nationality”, each month.

*All figures for “Actress Paula Patton's Ethnicity, Nationality, Parents - The Stats”, supplied by Google. Figures include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.

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