Some people are able to fake being a New Yorker in front of outsiders, but those who are really from The Empire State know the difference. True New Yorkers know what “the city” means, and the subway system actually makes sense to them. It’s understandable why so many people want to rep New York — where else can you find such a diverse and interesting mix of cultures, cuisines, and entertainment? And when it comes to producing legends, New York definitely holds the crown.
Here are 20 celebrities who have deep ties to the state and are proud to be die hard New Yorkers.
1. Robert De Niro
The iconic actor Robert De Niro was born in New York City’s Greenwich Village on August 17, 1943 — he’s spent over 70 years in NYC, and there’s little doubt that he’ll remain there for all the rest of his days. Robert De Niro currently lives in a 78 acre Gardiner estate with his wife, Grace Hightower, plus he owns homes in east and west Manhattan. De Niro has been an investor in Tribeca properties since the late 1980s, and he has plenty to keep him rooted to The Big Apple.
2. Woody Allen
Woody Allen has had an incredibly interesting history in entertainment, and he’s no stranger to controversy. One thing, however, has never changed about the man: he absolutely adores his hometown. Woody Allen was born in Brooklyn on December 1, 1935, and he’s been firmly attached to New York City since he was just a child. Most know Woody Allen as a hugely successful comedian, filmmaker, and playwright, but he’s also a philanthropist who has given generously to charities. Many of the organizations that he supports are located in New York or benefit communities surrounding NYC.
3. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr., the awesome actor of Iron Man fame, is a New Yorker through and through. He was born in Manhattan on April 4, 1965 and though he’s a huge Hollywood name, he always holds New York closest to his heart. Robert Downey Jr. has raised millions for different NYC area nonprofits and organizations, and he and his wife Susan frequently hold charity events in the city. One of his favorite things to eat is pizza — and, of course, he prefers a New York style slice of pie from his favorite local spot.
4. Jay Z
Shawn Carter — aka Jay Z, aka Beyonce’s Husband, aka one of the highest earning rappers of all time — was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in 1969. Jay Z has shown love for his city in various songs, most notably on the 2009 track Empire State of Mind. After marrying his superstar Houston native wife, Jay Z started his new family in Tribeca and the couple has maintained a New York residence for their entire marriage. Jay Z also owns a bevy of NYC real estate, including the 40/40 Club. He founded Roc Nation in New York, used to own a stake in Barclays Center, and is part owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — fans frequently see him court side at games repping the team and his city. There’s no doubt about it, Jay Z is definitely a die hard New Yorker.
5. Alicia Keys
The music artist featured on the hook to Jay Z’s aforementioned song, Empire State of Mind, is Alicia Keys, who is also a New York native. The singer was born in New York City on January 25, 1981, and she gives back to her hometown whenever she can. At the end of 2015, she finished the TCS New York City Marathon to benefit her charity, which donates to organizations in the city and around the country. Alicia Keys has also partnered with the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
6. Jennifer Lopez
Some call her Jenny from the Block or JLo, but no matter the nickname that’s used, everyone knows this superstar loves New York City. Jennifer Lopez was born in The Bronx’s Castle Hill neighborhood on July 24, 1969. Throughout her early career as a dancer, and later as an actress, fashion and media entrepreneur, and producer, she’s always shown how proud she is to be a New Yorker. It’s interesting that in many of the TV shows and movies JLo has been featured in, she’s played the role of a New York City cop. Jennifer Lopez has maintained a residence in New York throughout her career, she made sure that her children were born in state, and she loves giving back to where she comes from.
7. Lady Gaga
Singer and actress Lady Gaga was born on March 28, 1986 in The Empire State. Sure, she’s now known for her outrageous performances and great voice talent, but back when she was known as Stefani she was playing gigs around New York with her group SGBand. She attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has always been proud of her New York roots. Lady Gaga credits her current success to time spent in New York’s underground circuit, and performs in the state whenever possible. She was the final artist to perform at New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom before it closed in April 2014.
8. Donald Trump
Donald Trump is a shrewd and successful businessman, a huge media personality, and a presidential hopeful who is also a true New Yorker. His real estate portfolio is seriously impressive, and he owns a big chunk of properties in NYC. Donald Trump was born in Queens on June 14, 1946, and he attended New York Military Academy during his youth. Some of the New York real estate that comprises this billionaire’s empire include Trump Palace, Trump Plaza, Trump Tower at City Center, and Trump SoHo. It’s not just business dealings that make him a New Yorker, however. Donald Trump really does love the city and he’s never been shy about being proud of his roots.
9. Barbra Streisand
The incomparable Barbra Streisand was born in NYC’s Williamsburg neighborhood on April 24, 1942. The film and singing legend has won numerous awards and has come to be known as the Queen of the Divas. Indeed she is, but Barbra Streisand is also a die hard New Yorker who got her start right in the city. Her first stage role was in 1957 as a walk-on during a performance at the Playhouse in Malden Bridge. A couple years after in 1959, Barbra Streisand rented an apartment on 48th street, set out to start her career in show business, and the rest is history.
10. Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is known as a very talented actor with a great heart, and he’s also a New York native. He was born in Mount Vernon on December 28, 1954, and he attended NYC’s Fordham University. In addition to working in New York throughout his career, Denzel Washington has donated millions to area charities to benefit the arts, education, public health, and disadvantaged children. The actor loves his city so much that PS 17X, an elementary school in New York City, decided to officially name itself after Denzel Washington.
11. Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer was born on New York’s Upper East Side on June 1, 1981. The award winning comedy actress lived in Manhattan and Long Island during her childhood, and she came back to NYC after graduating from college. She started doing stand up comedy in 2004, and her first gig was at Gotham Comedy Club. Since then, she’s performed at various high profile New York City venues, including the Apollo Theater.
12. Jerry Seinfeld
Entertainment star Jerry Seinfeld is a New Yorker who is such a die hard that much of his career has revolved around the area. He was born in Brooklyn on April 29, 1954 and he lives in the city with his wife and children to this day. His long running sitcom Seinfeld was based on friends living in New York, and in real life, Jerry Seinfeld is a huge New York Mets fan. He’s also donated tons of time and money to New York based charities and organizations.
13. Ben Stiller
Actor and filmmaker Ben Stiller was born in New York City on November 30, 1965. Just like his father, the legendary Jerry Stiller, Ben is very proud of his New York roots. Ben Stiller got his start performing on the New York entertainment circuit and soon rose to Hollywood heights. Still, he can’t be taken far from his city for long, and he’s maintained a residence in New York his entire life.
14. Sarah Jessica Parker
Some people are born in New York, while others earn the title “New Yorker” by developing strong ties to the area. Sarah Jessica Parker was born in Nelsonville, Ohio in 1965, but her family moved to New York City when she was a child so she could get better singing, dance, and acting training. Parker’s first major role was as a kid in the Broadway revival of The Innocents, and she’s been landing big roles ever since. Many know of actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s most famed character, Carrie Bradshaw, and how she’s a NYC diva. In real life, Sarah Jessica Parker is a working mom who doesn’t mind blending in with other New Yorkers and doing everyday, ordinary things. She recently bought a few townhouses in Greenwich Village, which signals her plans to continue staying in NYC for many more years to come.
15. Anderson Cooper
Journalist, author, and media personality Anderson Cooper is a die hard New Yorker whose family goes way back in the area — does the name Vanderbilt ring a bell?. If you’re from New York, it certainly does. Anderson Cooper was born in NYC on June 3, 1967, and he’s worked and lived there more most of his life. In 2011, he tried something new and narrated the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway. It was the perfect venue for this groundbreaking New Yorker to make his stage debut.
16. Alec Baldwin
Veteran actor Alec Baldwin is a famous New Yorker who was born in Amityville on April 3, 1958. He went to George Washington University and the Tisch School of the arts in the 1970s, and even worked as a busboy at the famed Studio 54 before becoming an actor. Alec Baldwin has been in a score of movies and stage plays, including on Broadway. He currently lives in Greenwich Village with his wife and two youngest children.
17. Scarlett Johansson
This beauty has starred in a large number of hit films and is among the most die hard New Yorkers. Scarlett Johansson was born in NYC on November 22, 1984, and she received her acting training from Manhattan’s Professional Children’s School. Her older sister, Vanessa, and twin brother, Hunter, are also actors and their family is filled with film buffs. Though she lived in LA during her first marriage to Ryan Reynolds, Scarlett Johansson returned to the city she knew and loved most when she married Romain Dauriac in 2014. She’s participated in fundraisers for a number of local charities, including those that provide food aid to the hungry.
18. Olivia Wilde
Many might think that gorgeous actress and model Olivia Wilde would be high maintenance, but she’s like many other New Yorkers — she doesn’t even mind hailing her own cab and is often seen walking through NYC like an average person, without a crew behind her. Olivia Wilde was born in New York City on March 10, 1984, and she’s known for starring in hit TV series’ including House and Vinyl. She’s also had numerous role sin film. Her parents and many of her relatives are journalists, but Olivia Wilde was destined for the stage. She considers herself to be an activist, and supports many causes and charities in New York.
19. Adam Sandler
Comedian and actor Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn on September 9, 1966, and his career goes back to the 1980s. Who can forget his performances in Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore? And let’s not forget the other zillion movies he’s made and starred in as well as his humble beginnings on The Cosby Show and SNL. When he’s not making audiences laugh, Adam Sandler enjoys spending time with his family in the city.
20. Sean Combs
Puff Daddy, P.Diddy, Sean John — whatever you like to call him, this music mogul is one of the most die hard New Yorkers that is also a celebrity. Sean Combs was born in Harlem on November 4, 1969, and he grew up in Mount Vernon. He started his road to success as an intern at Uptown Records in New York, and Sean Combs has been involved in the music industry ever since. His label, Bad Boy Entertainment, produced successful records for some of the biggest names in the business. Today, Sean Combs is one of the highest earning rappers and entrepreneurs of all time and he’s also known as a generous donor to New York schools and charities.