The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Paula Patton ethnicity” each month.


The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Paula Patton parents” each month.

*All figures for “Actress Paula Patton's Ethnicity And Parents According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.

Top left: MOTHER AND DAUGHTER: Film star Paula Patton's parents are of mixed ethnicity and nationality. Her mother, Joyce Vanraden, right, is of German ancestry, while her father, Charles Patton, is African American.

Top right: HUSBAND AND WIFE: Paula Patton and recording artist husband Robin Thicke, were one of the most high profile interracial couples in the world before their divorce this year. Thicke, whose controversial single 'Blurred Lines' recently topped the charts, had been married to Patton for eight years. When they first started dating, the Mission Impossible star kept it a secret, fearing a backlash from African Americans at the college where she studied, on account of the fact that Thicke was white.

Above right; ON A MISSION: Paula Patton as agent Jane Carter, with Tom Cruise in a still from the movie Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol.

Below: FILM PLUS FASHION: Four of Paula Patton's magazine covers: Clockwise from left: Patton makes the cover of the December 2011 edition of fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar's Arabian edition; Patton is hailed as 'The New Halle Berry' on the cover of Giant magazine, winter 2009; Complex magazine, December/January 2010-2011. A pregnant Paula Patton makes the cover of Ebony magazine's May 2010 edition.

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 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.”

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 38-year-old actress revealed in Women's Health magazine. [They'd assume] I didn't want to be part of the black 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. Most people think there's a black president.”

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.

Born: Los Angeles, California.
Age: 40.
Height: 5' 7¼" (1.71m).
Middle name: Maxine.
First job: Coffee shop, Culver City.
Early beauty issue: Bad skin.
Hip-hop friend: Queen Latifah.
Breakout film role: 'Hitch' (2005).
Embarrassing moment: Husband Robin Thicke's lyrical sexism in his hit 'Blurred Lines'.
Killer quote: 'In this business there are too many boundaries and boxes. You have to not listen - that's the only way to achieve what others view as impossible.'

The reality of mixed race relationships in America also affected the early years of her partnership with white singer-songwriter Robin Thicke — whose controversial single, 'Blurred Lines', topped the charts in 114 countries, including 12 weeks at number one in the US. During a recent radio interview with DJ Howard Stern, the music star revealed how the young couple initially kept their relationship a secret, for fear of a backlash from within 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 then separated in February 2014, with Patton finally filing for divorce in October.

Despite the fact that Patton 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 10,000 global Internet users per month search the term “Paula Patton ethnicity”, while a further 1,000 per month asks, “Is Paula Patton black?”

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.”

BLACK BEAUTY by Ben Arogundade is out now. Read the first chapter FREE.


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Mission Impossible Movie Star Paula Patton: Leading Hollywood's New Crop Of Biracial Actors

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ACTRESS PAULA PATTON'S ETHNICITY — white German mother and African American father — places her in the vanguard of Hollywood's preferred look for black actresses. By Ben Arogundade.



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