In addition to some of the yummiest comfort food in history and all the feel-good country tunes a person could want, the South has blessed the rest of the United States (and the world) with some of the most talented celebrities in the business.
Some of these stars rep their hometowns like professional ambassadors, using any chance they get to talk about their Southern values in a very alluring Southern drawl. Though they may live in Hollywood or New York City (although many of them continue to live in the South), they will always be loud and proud Southerners at heart. Because of that, fans think of them when they think of the South and the beauty it has to offer.
Next to these celebrities whom fans tend to associate with the South, there are those that aren’t originally from the Northern states, but no one would ever know it. These are the actors and musicians who have lost their accents and whose Southern roots are only known by the biggest of fans. It’s sometimes surprising to discover which of the biggest names in the industry are actually Southerners.
Keep reading to find out which celebrities are actually from the South, whether everyone knows it or not!
25 Jennifer Lawrence: Kentucky
You might not have realized that one of the biggest starts in Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence, is actually from Kentucky. Of course, true fans know this, but it's not like she flaunts it.
She was born in Louisville and is still close to her family who still lives at home.
“She’s a Louisvillian at heart,” her brother Ben revealed to the Daily News. “She isn’t a Valley Girl. She has soul. She has street smarts.” Lawrence might not have the Southern accent, but she does have the Southern spirit.
24 Selena Gomez: Texas
Like a few other major stars in the industry, Selena Gomez was born and raised in Texas. Her mother, Amanda Dawn “Mandy” Cornett, had Gomez in Grand Prairie when she was just sixteen. Cornett worked as an actress, which is what originally inspired Gomez to pursue a profession in the entertainment business and later move away from home.
Her first big role came when she was still a child in 2002, working on Barney and Friends with future friend and fellow singer Demi Lovato.
23 Justin Timberlake: Tennessee
It’s hard to imagine Justin Timberlake as a country singer, but the former boy band member was born in Memphis, Tennessee and honored his roots with his first venture into music.
He may not be based in Nashville and has made a name for himself in pop music, but Timberlake’s roots are significantly more country.
He doesn’t have a Southern drawl today, but he performed country and gospel music as a child and grew up listening to the likes of country greats Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.
22 Johnny Depp: Kentucky
Pirates of the Caribbean actor Johnny Depp is another star who doesn’t talk with a Southern accent but still hails from below the Mason-Dixon line. Depp was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, but he spent the majority of his childhood in Florida before moving on to Hollywood. Still, that's a far cry from growing up in mild CA.
While he doesn’t really have an accent, Depp is proud of his heritage. “I’m old-fashioned. It’s my Kentucky mentality—seems I can’t escape it after all,” he told the Daily Mail.
21 Jennifer Garner: Texas
Actress Jennifer Garner was born in Houston, Texas, along with her two sisters. She was raised in Charleston, West Virginia, before heading to Denison University in Ohio where she ended up studying theatre. Interestingly enough, she was originally a chemistry major!
Before settling in Los Angeles to pursue acting, Garner also made a brief stop in New York City.
Unlike some of her fellow Texan actors, she doesn’t typically take on Southern roles, but that doesn't mean she's not proud of where she's from.
20 Eva Longoria: Texas
There must be something about Texas—it seems to produce some of the most talented people! Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria was born in Corpus Christi in 1975 and she stayed in Texas until she graduated from Texas A&M University-Kingsville with a degree in kinesiology. While she was in college, in 1998, Longoria was actually crowned Miss Corpus Christi USA.
She probably knew from that point on that she was destined for some pretty big things in her future! Of course, it took a move to Hollywood to catapult her to stardom.
19 Julia Roberts: Georgia
If you listen carefully, you can hear a hint of the Southern influence in Julia Roberts’ accent. In addition to playing characters who roam the streets of Hollywood, she’s also played a few Southern roles in films like Steel Magnolias.
Roberts was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to a family of actors.
She was raised in Georgia and even enrolled in classes at Georgia State University but dropped out, like so many other stars, so she could launch her acting resume in New York.
18 Pharrell Williams: Virginia
Pharrell Williams comes from Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he was born to parents Pharaoh and Carolyn Williams and spent most of his childhood and teenage years. His ancestry actually dates back to connections in North Carolina, though.
The tale goes that one of his ancestors actually traveled to West Africa in 1831, which provoked other relatives to emigrate to Liberia from America in 1832. Williams did two years of college at Northwestern before dropping out to concentrate on his music.
17 Channing Tatum: Alabama
Channing Tatum may have been born in the small town of Cullman, Alabama, but he spent his childhood moving around the South.
At the age of six, he moved to Mississippi and then a few years later received a full athletic football scholarship at Glenville State College in West Virginia.
Although he later dropped out of his scholarship and pursued work in the entertainment industry, he is still a huge sports fan with a strong loyalty to the Alabama teams.
16 Megan Fox: Tennessee
Until she was five years old, Megan Fox lived in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. After that, she moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Florida. Fox soon began to thrive in modeling and talent competitions.
By the time she was sixteen years old, she knew that she had some serious potential (and she was right). After winning endless awards for her work in talent and modeling comps, Fox decided to leave Florida behind and journey to Los Angeles in the hopes of becoming a star.
15 Courteney Cox: Alabama
Most famous for playing Monica Geller on Friends, Courteney Cox isn’t the first person you think of when the topic comes to celebrities from the South. But if you listen carefully, you can hear a hint of a Southern accent from the Cougar Town star.
And in fact, Cox was born and raised in Mountain Brook, Alabama.
After finishing high school, Cox left for Mount Vernon College Washington D.C., and began an architecture course. Needless to say, she did not stick with architecture.
14 Kanye West: Georgia
Especially after the birth of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West’s third child, Chicago West, it may come as a surprise that Mr. West is not actually from Illinois. He does consider Chicago his home, but was really born in Atlanta, Georgia.
After his parents divorced, his mother relocated the family to Chicago. After living in Chicago for a while, West attended Polaris High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. He also briefly studied English at Chicago State University before dropping out to pursue music.
13 Zach Galifianakis: North Carolina
Zach Galifianakis was born and raised in North Carolina. He was born in Wilkesboro and completed all of his schooling in North Carolina.
He even attended North Carolina State University but dropped out before finishing his last college class.
After that, he made the move to New York City with the hopes of building a reputation in the comedy realm. His big break finally came with the hilarious role of Alan in 2009’s The Hangover alongside Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms.
12 Sandra Bullock: Virginia
It’s easy to see that Sandra Bullock has some Southern roots. The actress gave a brilliant portrayal of Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side, and we guess that she was able to channel her own past to really get into the character. Bullock was born in Arlington, Virginia, but was raised in Nuremberg, Germany.
Today, Bullock can afford to live pretty much anywhere she wants to live, but she chooses to spend a lot of time at her home in New Orleans. We guess that Southern life is too hard to resist (and maybe the food has something to do with it, too)!
11 Leighton Meester: Texas
When we first met Leighton Meester, she was the princess of the Upper East Side on the TV hit Gossip Girl.
So a lot of people are surprised to discover that Meester was actually born in Fort Worth, Texas.
Her mother was serving in prison at the time, so Meester was nursed in a halfway house for three months before moving with her grandmother in Marco Island, Florida. She grew up in Florida, before moving to Los Angeles when she was fourteen.
10 Ellen DeGeneres: Louisiana
Ellen DeGeneres is a Louisiana native! Born in a suburb of New Orleans, she eventually moved to Atlanta, Texas with her mother and step father. She came back to Louisiana for college where she attended the University of New Orleans but she only lasted a semester there.
Now that she is one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, DeGeneres shows a lot of love and support to her hometown. Following Hurricane Katrina, the talk-show host actually reached out to those affected by the disaster.
9 Dakota Fanning: Georgia
We had an inkling that Dakota Fanning was a Southerner when she played the young Melanie in Sweet Home Alabama and delivered the famous line in an Alabama accent: “Why would you want to marry me for anyhow?”
The actress was actually born in Conyers, Georgia, in 1994.
She was raised there until her family moved to Los Angeles permanently so she could work on her acting. Both Dakota and her sister Elle were brought up Southern Baptist as their family kept their traditional roots.
8 Ryan Seacrest: Georgia
It seems like Georgia also has a pool of talent we didn’t even know about! Ryan Seacrest is another Georgia native and was born in Dunwoody, a suburb of Atlanta. He did all of his schooling in Georgia and studied journalism at the University of Georgia. He didn’t complete his degree, though, and left halfway through college to try for the big time in Los Angeles (we're glad he did).
Years later in 2016, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
7 George Clooney: Kentucky
George Clooney is definitely not the first face that comes to mind when you think of Southern actors. But the A-List star was born in Lexington, Kentucky, to his parents Nina Bruce and Nick Clooney.
He started elementary school in Kentucky before moving to Columbus, Ohio.
When he was halfway through seventh grade, his family returned to Kentucky. He attended Northern Kentucky University, and briefly, the University of Cincinnati, before starting his first acting job and rising to global fame.
6 Renee Zellweger: Texas
Her accent as Bridget Jones was really convincing, so a lot of people may be surprised to know that Renee Zellweger was actually born in Katy, Texas in 1969. Her mother moved to Texas from Norway to work as a governess for a Texan family.
In 1991, Zellweger graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She first started auditioning for roles around Houston after taking a drama course in college as an elective.
5 Loud & Proud: Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon is the ultimate Southern star. She’s got a natural drawl that comes out perfectly when she stars in films like Walk the Line and Sweet Home Alabama, can sing like a real country star, and even named her second son Tennessee.
Witherspoon was raised in Nashville, but she was actually born in New Orleans.
She widely promotes Southern culture and has even appeared in videos and interviews to translate Southern slang. If you don’t know what “caddywonked” means, Reese will tell you!
4 Loud & Proud: Harry Connick Jr.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Harry Connick Jr. is one actor with a distinctive Southern accent that makes him perfect for certain film roles. He is probably best known as a jazz singer and as a host on American Idol, but has appeared in a few films such as New in Town, P.S. I Love You, Hope Floats and Independence Day. In My Dog Skip, he can actually be heard as the Mississippi narrator.
The musician and actor moved to New York City later in life to study at Hunter College and the Manhattan School of Music.
3 Loud & Proud: Beyoncé
Beyoncé might be one of the most famous stars to come out of Houston, Texas. The Southern city is where she got her start, all those years ago before she was at the top of the industry.
She performed around Houston with her bandmates in Girl’s Tyme as a girl, a group which eventually became Destiny’s Child.
The singer has recently been representing her Southern roots more in her music and often shouts out Houston, Texas in her songs.
2 Loud & Proud: Britney Spears
Though Britney Spears is the princess of pop music, it’s not difficult to hear the remains of her Southern drawl when she speaks. The singer was born in McComb, Mississippi, which is the heart of the Bible Belt.
She was raised in Kentwood, Louisiana and even got her break into the entertainment industry in the south when she auditioned for the remake of The Mickey Mouse Club in Atlanta. Since becoming a huge pop star, Spears has maintained that she’s “just a Louisiana girl.”
1 Loud & Proud: Dolly Parton
Born in Sevier County, Tennessee, Dolly Parton is perhaps one of the most prolific Southern faces.
One of the most successful country music artists of all time, Parton has been inducted into, not one, but fifteen halls of fame!
She’s also founded her own theme park called Dollywood in Tennessee (that’s when you know you’ve made it), and has starred in films like Steel Magnolias. She uses her real Southern accent in all her roles and is a longstanding icon of Southern culture.
Sources: Southern Thing, Elite Daily, Country Living