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Celebrity Ancestry: ’Matrix’ & ‘John Wick’ Star Keanu Reeves’s Ethnicity & Parents Heritage: 300,000 Google His Race History & Mother & Father’s Ethnic Background

HOLLYWOOD STAR KEANU REEVES’s ethnicity and heritage seem hard to place for many fans who regularly Google queries about his ancestry and parents ethnic background. So what are the facts? By Ben Arogundade. Dec. 10, 2019.

HOLLYWOOD'S BLURRED LINE: Actor Keanu Reeves, star of the films ‘Matrix’ and ‘John Wick’ is the subject of much online curiosity about his ethnicity and his parents racial heritage. Is he Hawaiian? Native American? Google records over 300,000 search queries about his ethnic background and that of his mother and father each year.

IS HOLLYWOOD STAR KEANU REEVES Hawaiian, Native American, Chinese? These are just some of the questions curious fans ask about him online. Celebrities in general are the focus of intense scrutiny about every aspect of their lives, and Keanu Reeves is no exception. His ethnicity is a particular focus because the aesthetics of his face appear to suggest a combination of Asian and European ancestry. 


This has resulted in thousands of Google search queries about the precise details of Keanu Reeves ethnic background. The search giant records and publishes this data, and it has become a useful guide to the kinds of things that people around the world are thinking about at any given time. For example, the term, “Keanu Reeves ethnicity” is Googled approximately 5,400 per month globally, while “Keanu Reeves race heritage,” is searched 3,200 times.


Reeves parents are also the subjects of searches. Keanu Reeves father and mother are Googled a total of 5,300 times per month globally, while the phrase, “Keanu Reeves parents” is searched 6,600 times. If we add up all the search queries relating to Keanu Reeves ethnic background and family history, it amounts to over 300,000 Google queries on this subject alone.


So, what are the facts about Keanu Reeves ethnicity? Keanu Charles Reeves was born on September 2, 1964in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. His parents met and married while working in the city. She was 19, and he was 21. His mother, Patricia Taylor, a costume designer and performer, is a white Englishwoman from Essex, while his father, Samuel Nowlin-Reeves Jr., is anAmerican geologist who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is a combination ofChinese-Hawaiian, English, Irish, and Portuguese ancestry. Keanu Reeves grandmother was Chinese-Hawaiian and he grew up around Chinese culture and cuisine as a child.

Keanu’s parents' marriage dissolved in 1966. His father struggled with substance abuse, and left the family when Keanu was young. Keanu then moved with his mother and younger sisterKim, to New York City, and then Toronto.The family settled in Yorkville, where Reeves spent most of his formative years.Today he holds Canadian citizenship.


Keanu Reeves joins the ranks of Hollywood’s other ethnically ambiguous stars such as Jennifer Beals, Rosario Dawson, and Halle Berry, all of whom have also navigated the furrow between the different aspects of their ancestry. The biographies of these celebrities have become crucial reference points for America's new generation of young bi-racials seeking answers to questions about identity.

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KEANU’S FAMILY HISTORY: Keanu Reeves as a child with his young parents. His mother Patricia Taylor was 19, and his father Samuel Norlin-Reeves was 21 when they married. Keanu’s parents years later. The couple divorced in 1966. They are both from very different ethnic backgrounds. His mother is English while his father is a combination of Chinese-Hawaiian, English, Irish, and Portuguese ancestry.



The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Keanu Reeves race heritage” each month.


The number of people worldwide who Google the term, “Keanu Reeves ethnicity”, each month.


The number of people worldwide who Google the term, “Keanu Reeves parents”, each month.

*All figures for “Keanu Reeves Ethnicity & Parents Background - According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.


WE HAVE BEEN SHOCKED and appalled by the murder of George Floyd in the US, and heartened by the resistance of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the aftermath, what matters most is not this painful past, but what we are going to do now. I am determined to transform my feelings of anger, pain and sadness into something positive and inclusive, which gathers and unifies citizens of all ethnicities who believe in fairness, equality and love. Hopefully that is you.

As a writer, to do my bit to assist, I am looking to raise funds to write, produce and publish an illustrated history book that narrates the story of society’s prejudices against BAME people in the 21st century, and the subsequent work of Black Lives Matter. Each person who donates the book price or more (£45.00/$55.00) will receive a copy.

I have written before about the history of the black experience, in a book called Black Beauty published in 2000. It went on to become a bestseller, was honoured by the New York Public Library and become the subject of a three-part BBC documentary. My proposed new book is a “sequel” which continues this literary journey into this new century.

The title will become an important educational and historical document that will both inform the growing audience of people seeking to understand how we got here, and also help ensure that the aims and values of the Black Lives Matter movement continue to resonate. 

This is the most important time in the history of the struggle for racial equality since the death of Martin Luther King in 1968. Let us not allow it to pass without doing what we can. Donate now, and let’s go!

Ben Arogundade

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