Dominican Celebrities

A look at some people from the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has been the birthplace of many local unique celebrities, world famous celebrities, and others who have contributed to entertainment, sports, fashion, beauty, literature, and politics. It is even more impressing to consider these achievements when you remember that this has been a country that has struggled with poverty and other issues until very recently.

The path to success and a world stage is not easy under the circumstances and is almost impossible under the conditions that faced many in the Dominican Republic. Today their names and faces are instantly recognizable in their homeland and in many other countries as well.


Juan Luis GuerraOne of the most popular Dominican celebrities among the composers and singers from today is Juan Luis Guerra who has dubbed his style of music, “Mamborengue”. His songs are often dynamic and entertaining commentaries on many social conditions. He was honored with 4 Grammy awards at the 2007 Latin Music Show in Las Vegas.

Another among the Dominican Republic famous people is Joseito Mateo, known across the world as the king of the Merengue. He is also the first person from the Dominican Republic to ever perform at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. Even NY Mayor Bloomberg has officially declared the 27th of February to be Joseito Mateo Day.                                                                                                                                   


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Other popular celebrities in the world of entertainment are: 

• Zoe Saldano - A favorite actress of the Dominican people.      
• Ruby Perez - An extremely popular and self effacing vocalist who began singing with a choir in his church. Today he is a favorite vocalist of many throughout the world.

• Fernando Lamas - Well known Hollywood movie actor.
• Aventura - Popular bachata music group.

• Juan Castillo- A filmmaker with many highly rated movies to his credit.
• Luis Lopez - An actor seen in Dirty Dancing and Havana Nights.
• Cristal Marie - A pop Latin singer.
• Jose Alberto -"El Canario", a salsa singer.


Sports have long been a popular pastime in the Dominican Republic and residents of this country enjoy competing at many different games. One of the sports in which many Dominicans have found fame is baseball. Today it is very common for major scouts from many places to visit the Dominican Republic just to watch the newest and best players in action. Even very young boys know that they have a ticket out of poverty if they can become one of the very best players in baseball.

Sammy Sosa is one of baseball’s most recognized and beloved players. He is also a strong supporter of youth programs in his native land. As one of 7 children from a very poor family Sammy once shined shoes and boxed but he gave up the rough sport of boxing and turned to baseball when he was 14.

The Texas Rangers made plans to take him to the United States and prepare him for professional baseball when he was only 16. The rest of his story is true sports history.

Some other well known players from the Dominican Republic include:

• Osvaldo 'Ozzie' Virgil – He was the very first Dominican to enter pro baseball in 1953, as a Major League player with the New York Giants.
• Felipe, Jesus and Matty Alou (San Francisco Giants)
• Miguel Tejada (Baltimore Orioles)
• Pedro Martinez (New York Mets)
• Albert Castillo  (New York Mets)
• Manny Mota (San Francisco Giants)
• Rico Carty (Milwaukee Braves)
• Cesar Geronimo (Houston Astros)


No mention of Dominican celebrities would be complete without including the world renowned Oscar de la Renta. Aside from him, there several well known designers like Leonel Lirio, Jenny Polanco and Jorge Diep.


The wonderful combination of Tainos, Spanish, and African ancestors has been a superb recipe for creating beauty. Women from the Dominican Republic are noted for having beautiful faces with stunning cheekbones and wide smiles. They are also distinguished for winning many beauty crowns and titles. This is quite remarkable given the relatively small size of the country and population.

Some of the beauty winners include:

• Marianne Cruz - (2nd runner up) Miss Universe 2008
• Amelia Vega - 2003 Miss Universe
• Claudia Cruz - (1st runner up) Miss World 2004
• Renata Soñé - (2nd runner up) Miss Universe 2005

Art and Literature

• Fabio Fiallo - This man is considered a literary genius as well as a poet and a storyteller. Fiallo is considered one of the famous celebrities in Spain, the DR, and to Spanish speaking audiences throughout the world.

• Pedro Julio Mir Valentín - An illustrious poet laureate of the DR.

• Octavio Rodriguez - Well known artist, composer and designer.

• Junot Diaz - The first Dominican Republic native to achieve great recognition in the US; New Yorker magazine listed him in their selection of top 20 up and coming authors.


In the politics a very prominent man is Dr. Guillermo Linares. This gentleman was born in the Dominican Republic and his family went to the United States hoping for a better life. Dr. Linares drove a taxi at one time and later became a teacher. He was appointed Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for NY by Mayor Bloomberg in 2004 and became the first native born Dominican to hold a US public office.

Additionally, Diana Reyna is the first Dominican woman to be elected as a New York City councilwoman; and Joseline Pena-Melnyck is a member of the Maryland General Assembly.

As you have read there are many proud and talented Dominicans who had the courage and the determination to make their dreams come true.

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