There is a long, proud history in the United States of hardworking men and women who come to this country from abroad, set their minds on a particular dream, and refuse to let go until they achieve it.
Every celebrity immigrant on this list goes a long way towards proving anything is truly possible if you set your mind to it.
Once upon a time, Austrian immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger had a dream: he wanted to move to the United States and make something of himself. He finally got the opportunity at 21 and refused to let the fact that he spoke very little English keep him down.
He started his own brick-laying business and used the revenue generated by that enterprise to start a career in entertainment. He would go on to be one of the most successful leading men in the history of a very American enterprise—Hollywood.
Though you may not be familiar with Joe Shuster by name, you are undoubtedly aware of his most famous creation: Superman. In addition to serving as a symbol for everything that is good about America’s value system and acting as an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, Superman has generated billions of dollars in revenue since making his first appearance all the way back in 1938.
Superman was created by Shuster with his partner Jerry Siegel after he came to this country in the 20s and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. It’s fitting that Shuster’s biggest contribution to pop culture is also an immigrant (from Krypton) in his own right.
Born in Mexico, celebrity immigrant and actress Lupita Nyong’o moved to Kenya with her family when she was very young. Her early life was a difficult one, as political unrest and the general danger in the region forced her and her family to leave for the United States before her 20th birthday.
Once in America she not only graduated from Yale with a master’s degree, but would also go on to win an Academy Award for her star-making role in the film 12 Years a Slave.
Salma Hayek and her family moved to Los Angeles in 1991 as illegal immigrants, but she refused to let the hardship and racism that she faced keep her down. After being cast by Latino filmmaker and fellow celebrity immigrant Robert Rodriguez in Desperado, she would go on to become one of the most successful Mexican actresses in Hollywood history.
She also still regularly speaks out against all legislation that attempts to label illegal immigrants as felons.
Albert Einstein, who won the Nobel Prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect in 1921, is one of America’s most celebrated immigrants. Einstein actually became an immigrant later on in his life.
He came to America, after fleeing his native Germany, during the Nazis rise to power in the 1930s. He officially became a US citizen in 1940 and praised America for its long-held belief in the freedom of speech.
Mila Kunis was originally born in the Ukraine and due to political unrest at the time, she and her family felt the need to hide the fact that she was Jewish out of fear of persecution. After moving to the United States when she was just seven, she spoke very little English and cried every day during her first year.
Acting classes were originally just a mechanism for her to improve her English, but they had the added benefit of helping her get cast in one of the most popular shows of the 1990s,That 70s Show.
Born to a diplomat in Czechoslovakia, Madeleine went on to become the first female Secretary of State. Like so many immigrants before her, the Albright family entered into the United States through Ellis Island.
Before her historic Secretary of State appointment, Albright was a professor, foreign policy advisor, and Ambassador to the United Nations. And though her time as Secretary of State is over, she still stays involved in politics and contributes to charities.