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Actor-Shared Background

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When a character in a film, TV show or other form of media shares detail of their heritage, upbringing, and/or backstory with the actor playing them. When this material and information is written to be a vital part of the character and story, it runs into Meta Casting.

While this may seem like a trivial case of Cast the Expert, there are very justified reasons for following this trope, at least when it comes to race and ethnicity. In the United States, for example, the Screen Actors Guild requires that an actor at least partially share the ethnic background of whatever character they're playing, precisely to avoid blackface, yellowface, and other offensive ethnic caricatures. And while this isn't required for voice actors, it is generally preferred that they too share their character's ethnicity. Another trait that has become more common since the 2000s is if an actor is mixed-race, the producers will likely include it in the show and make the character's parents an interracial couple. Otherwise, you'd get situations like The Cosby Show where the two eldest daughters were played by biracial actresses (Sabrina LeBeauf and Lisa Bonet), meaning the girls had inexplicably lighter skin than the rest of the family.

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One area where this becomes controversial is sexuality and gender identity. Whether or not an LGBT character must be played by a matching actor is the subject of ongoing debate; many say the role should simply go to the best actor who auditions even if they're straight, while others think openly-queer actors should be encouraged to represent themselves onscreen after a history of exclusion. But many jurisdictions (including California) have non-discrimination employment laws that make it illegal for producers to specify that they want a queer actor in casting calls. Ironically, such laws are meant to protect LGBT people in the workplace.

When this goes from a minor detail to the focus of the story, it can be an example of Real Life Writes the Plot. Compare The Danza, where the character and the actor share a name, and Disabled Character, Disabled Actor, where a character and the actor portraying them have the same disability.

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Examples:

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    Anime/Manga 

    Fanworks 
  • In Discordant Princess' The Great Mouse Detective 2: Unexpected Love, Ratigan's tombstone states that he was born on May 27th. In the movie, Ratigan is voiced by Vincent Price, who was ALSO born on May 27th.
    • Similarly, one of Discordant Princess' headcanons for Ratigan is that he is bisexual; it was rumored that Price was also bisexual.

    Film — Animated 
  • Tip from Home is an immigrant and is half Barbadian, just like Rihanna (half Afro-Guyanese, half Barbadian).
  • In Justice League: Doom and Superman vs. the Elite, Alfred Pennyworth and Manchester Black, who are British, are both voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, who was born in the UK.
  • The Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans, and has one of its main characters, Ray, voiced by Jim Cummings, who grew up in the area.
  • In The Rescuers, Miss Bianca is portrayed as representing Hungary. She was voiced by Eva Gabor, who was Hungarian herself.
  • Splinter in TMNT is a zigzagged example. Mako Iwamatsu, who's from Japan like Splinter is, recorded most of his dialogue for the character. After his death though, his remaining dialogue was done by Greg Baldwin, who's American.
  • With the exception of Heihei (who is, mind you, a chicken with no dialogue) and the elderly villager who wants to eat Heihei (both played by Alan Tudyk), all of the speaking roles Moana are performed by actors with Hawaiian, Samoan, or Māori ancestry. The only singing done by non-Polynesian performers is Chief Tui's singing (performed by Christopher Jackson), and the English portions of "We Know The Way" (performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda).
    • Dwayne Johnson (Maui) is half-Samoan; Oscar Kightley (who plays a fisherman) and former Pittsburgh Steelers player Troy Polamalu (the villager with the leaking roof) are both Samoan.
    • Aulii Cravalho (Moana) and Nicole Scherzinger (Sina) are part Native Hawaiian.
    • Rachel House (Grandma Tala), Temuera Morrison (Tui), and Jemaine Clement (Tamatoa) all have Maori ancestry.
    • The te reo Māori dub adds Māori voice actors Jaedyn Randell (Moana), Piripi Taylor (Maui), and Amanda Ashton (Sina) to the original Māori cast members.
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    Film — Live Action 
  • Already Tomorrow In Hong Kong:
    • Jamie Chung is the American-born child of Asian immigrants, like her character Ruby. She's also a lover of fashion in real life, and runs a fashion blog.
    • Like Josh, Bryan Greenberg is Jewish.
  • In American Psycho, Elizabeth went to Sarah Lawrence College, as did the actress who played her (who also wrote the film), Guinevere Turner.
  • Another Me: Sophie Turner also had a twin who died in the womb.
  • in Ant-Man and the Wasp, villain Ghost was made into a young woman played by Hannah John-Kamen. Since John-Kamen is half-black/half-white, Ghost's parents (shown in the flashback where she got her powers as a girl) were a white man and a black woman.
  • Parminder Nagra's real-life leg scar (and how she got it) was added to the script of Bend It Like Beckham.
  • Bird Box: B.D. Wong is gay, like his character Greg.
  • In The Browning Version and its famous 1951 film adaptation, protagonist Andrew Crocker-Harris is a classics (i.e. Greek and Latin) master in a respected public school. Sir Michael Redgrave, who portrays Crocker-Harris, was also a schoolmaster in a prestigious public school in Real Life before he became an actor. However, he taught modern languages (English, French, and German) and was more of a Cool Teacher rather than Crocker-Harris's Stern Teacher.
  • Centurion: Dimitri Leonidas is half-Greek, just like his character.
  • Contact:
  • Crash: Bahar Soumekh and Shaun Toub actually are Iranian-American, like their characters. However, they are both Persian Jews, not Muslims as seems to be the case in the film.
  • In Creed, one of Rocky's main issues is about his son moving to Vancouver in order to escape his famous father's shadow. In real life, Sylvester Stallone's oldest son Sage died of a heart attack while Creed was in pre-production, which influenced his and Coogler's decision to focus more on Rocky's father-son relationship with Adonis.
  • Dear White People: Like Sam, Tessa Thompson has mixed race heritage.
  • In Detective Pikachu, Tim is biracial, with a white father and a black mother. His actor, Justice Smith, is also biracial, though his parentage is a reversal of Tim's (black father, white mother).
  • A minor example in Escape from the Planet of the Apes: on set of the first two movies in the series, actress Kim Hunter (who played Dr. Zira, a super-intelligent chimpanzee) had endured a lot of joking offers of bananas from crew members, which annoyed her because she hated bananas. In Escape, a human zookeeper, thinking Zira to be an ordinary, non-talking chimp, wonders she she isn't taking the bananas she's been offered. Zira responds with a line that Hunter found extremely cathartic.
    Because I loathe bananas!
  • In Ex Machina, Caleb says that his parents were teachers. Domhnall Gleeson's father was a teacher before he was an actor.
  • The backstory given to Dolph Lundgren's character in The Expendables 2 holds all true to the actor: he studied chemical engineering, moved to the States with a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT, and started working as a bouncer which led him towards a completely different career.
  • Anna Paquin's character Amy in Fly Away Home is a New Zealander born in Canada who moved away when she was a young child, just like Paquin herself. Paquin, however, did not move back to Canada when she was a teenager, unlike Amy (this being possibly the only time she's acted with her own accent).
  • For Colored Girls: Tessa Thompson (Nyla) and Thandie Newton (Tangie) are biracial like their characters.
  • Ever wonder how all of Harrison Ford's characters get that same damn scar on their chins? Ford himself got it in a car accident.note  Han Solo took part in a knife fight. Indiana Jones had a slight mishap his first time using a whip. Ad nauseam...
  • Supplementary material for The Force Awakens refers to Poe Dameron as a native of Yavin 4, because the Yavin 4 scenes in the original trilogy were filmed in Guatemala, the birthplace of his actor Oscar Isaac (in fact, this detail was his idea). The EU also states that General Hux was born during the last days of the Galactic Empire. His actor was born on May 12, 1983. Return of the Jedi was released on May 25 of the same year.
  • Harvey: The play described Harvey as a "6 feet tall, invisible rabbit". The movie changed this to 7 feet so that the six-foot-tall James Stewart could still look up at him when talking to him.
  • It's become a running gag that Tom Holland Cannot Keep a Secret (to the point where he wasn't trusted with full scripts for Avengers: Infinity War or Endgame lest he spoil the films in interviews). Similarly in the MCU, Spider-Man has not been successful in maintaining his secret identity; Tony Stark figured it out in Captain America: Civil War, Ned Leeds and Aunt May learned it in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and (judging from the trailers) we can add Nick Fury and Maria Hill (which, given their credentials, makes sense) as well as MJ in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, Sean Connery and Scott Glenn star as submarine captains Marko Ramius and Bart Mancuso, respectively. They both had naval experience before beginning their acting careers: Connery served in the Royal Navy, Glenn served in the United States Marine Corps, which is part of the Department of the Navy.
  • Inglourious Basterds: Mélanie Laurent really is a French Jew. Her grandfather had survived deportation to a concentration camp in World War II. She was pleased with being the "face of Jewish vengeance" and felt he would be happy about it as well.
  • In the Shadow of the Moon: Cleopatra Coleman, like Rya, is mixed race of Black and White descent.
  • Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. has some slight similarities to Tony Stark's life: a history of partying and drug-use, while also being one of the finest in his craft when he gets his act together.
    • RDJ acts as himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Almost everything Tony Stark did or said was because RDJ wanted to do it. For example, the awkward flow of conversations between Tony and Pepper in numerous scenes was just how RDJ normally talks, and even the famous "I am Iron Man" line at the end of the first movie was adlibbed and the filmmakers just went with it.
    • Tony is also a recovering alcoholic in the comics. Part of the reason this huge part of his character has been ommitted from the MCU was at Downey's insistence. He didn’t want to get in the headspace that could jeopardize his own recovery. Most notably, Shane Black wanted Iron Man 3 to be an adaptation of the Devil in a Bottle storyline, and while Tony's partying does lead to an intervention from Rhodey, he doesn't become a homeless drunk like he does in the comics. Disney also didn’t want to sink $200 million into a movie of their most popular Marvel character dealing with such a heavy topic.
    • Remove the "partying" part of that and he's a bit similar to Sherlock Holmes as well.
  • James Bond:
    • Done backward in the case of Bond's Scottish ancestry. It was added into his history by Ian Fleming because of the very Scottish Sean Connery's portrayal of him.
    • Some of Bond's demons parallel Pierce Brosnan's: Bond lost his wife in On Her Majesty's Secret Service; Brosnan was married to a Bond Girl (Cassandra Harris starred in For Your Eyes Only) and lost her to cancer. Bond alludes to this in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, without making a big point of it.
    • In the books, it's revealed that Fleming and recurring Big Bad Ernst Stavro Blofeld have the same birthdate: May 28, 1908. Moreover, Bond and Fleming were both kicked out of Eton after a few terms and served in the Royal Navy in the war.
    • Thunderball: In the original novel, Bond Girl Domino and her fighter pilot brother (whose murder kicks off the plot) are Italians with the surname Petachi. But when French actress Claudine Auger successfully auditioned for the role, the characters were changed to French to reflect her nationality, and they were given the surname Derval.
    • Of the six actors who've played James Bond, the only one who served in the Royal Navy like Bond did was Sean Connery.
  • Al Jolson, who played the Russian-born Jewish jazz singer and Black Face performer Jakie in the first The Jazz Singer film. Unique in that the original short story ("The Day of Atonement") and play were loosely based on Jolson's life. Al Jolson played the part because the original Broadway performer was unavailable for filming.
  • Most of Dwayne Johnson's characters are Polynesian and/or African-American like he is, but more interestingly, any time his character has children, they're always girls. Johnson only has daughters in real life, and it might be a stated preference of his in order to give a more convincing performance as a father.
  • Jupiter Ascending: Jupiter Jones and Mila Kunis are both immigrants from former Soviet countries, Jupiter from Russia and Mila from Ukraine. Moreover, Mila is Jewish and Jupiter's implied to be. Both also speak Russian.
  • Like her character Laura/X-23 in Logan, Dafne Keen is of mixed ancestry (British father, Spanish mother) and a native Spanish speaker (though Laura is Mexican with her biological father Logan being Canadian). Her casting was due to this.
  • My Name Is Khan: Both Rizwan and Shah Rukh Khan are Muslims married to Hindus.
  • Halle Berry played a biracial woman in Queen, and is one herself, though she identifies as just Black.
  • Gugu Mbatha Raw has a black father and white mother. Her characters Noni in Beyond the Lights, Ruth (Fast Color) and Dido (Belle) have the same ancestry, but with a white father/black mother instead. In fact, so far now whenever her characters' background has been shown, it matches hers (at least aside from their parents' specific races, except in Bonekickers with Vic, whose ancestry was the same). This may have been her request, as she's explicit in identifying as a biracial woman. In all of those cases though one of her parents is absent or even dead. Unlike her film alter egos, however, Mbatha-Raw enjoys close, very healthy relationships with both of her parents (per her interviews, her father has always played a very active role in her life and her parents both remain on such friendly terms with one another that the three of them often will do things together as a family).
  • Part of a Lampshade Hanging in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The (English) Cary Elwes points out that "Unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!", a Take That! to the American Kevin Costner's performance as the title character in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
  • A lot of Seth Rogen's characters are Jewish, and a couple of them, such as Ben from Knocked Up and Kyle from 50/50, are from his hometown of Vancouver.
  • Many of Adam Sandler's characters in his films are Jewish, as is Sandler himself.
  • Emma Roberts' character in Scream 4, Jill Roberts, not only shares her last name, she also shares the fact of having a famous relative. Emma's aunt is Julia Roberts, an Academy Award-winning actress, while Jill's older cousin is Sidney Prescott, who became a bestselling writer after surviving multiple killing sprees. It lends a degree of Reality Subtext to Jill's villainy and motive, painting them in an even more twisted light — she's literally out to steal the success and career of her famous relative.
  • In Scotland, PA, Lt. McDuff (played by Christopher Walken) mentions offhand that he used to be a professional dancer.
  • Tommy Boy: Tommy Callahan graduates from Marquette University, which was also Chris Farley's alma mater.
  • Vince Vaughn's characters in The Break-Up, Couples Retreat, The Dilemma, and Fred Claus live in Chicago, as does Vaughn.
  • What We Do in the Shadows: Stu the I.T. guy, whose actor is... an I.T. guy named Stu. In fact, he wasn't even hired to be an actor, he was hired to work on computers for the film, and was added to the movie during filming. His character is basically the exact same person as the actor.
  • Where Hands Touch: Amandla Stenberg is also biracial as Leyna is, though the mix is different—her father is white, her mother's black. Leyna's mother and father are the opposite.
  • Wonder Woman 1984: The antagonist, Latin-American businessman Maxwell Lord, anglicized his own name for business purposes, having been born Maxwell Lorenzano. His actor, Chilean-American Pedro Pascal, had previously done the same; he originally used his father's last name, "Balmaceda", but too many non-Latinos struggled to pronounce it, so he switched to his mother's maiden name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 4400:
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., one of the few details given about Skye's upbringing in the first season is that she was found in China (her actress, Chloe Bennet, is half-Chinese). Her parents appear in the second season, confirming Skye's heritage is similar to Chloe's. Only difference is her parents are reversed—Skye's father is Caucasian and her mother Chinese, while Chloe's father is Chinesenote  and her mother Caucasian.
  • American Gods (2017): Ricky Whittle, like Shadow, is half Black and half White.
  • Arrowverse
  • At least two of Richard Dean Anderson's characters, MacGyver and the Stargate-verse's Jack O'Neill, are from Minnesota, same as Anderson.
  • On the final episode of Are You Being Served?, "The Pop Star", Mr. Spooner is revealed to be a talented lead vocalist. Same for his actor Mike Berry.
  • Band of Brothers:
    • Lewis Nixon was a Yale graduate in real life. He was played by Ron Livingston, who also attended Yale.
    • David Schwimmer is Jewish like Herbert Sobel was in real life.
    • Accidental example. Ross McCall is not Jewish. His character Joe Liebgott is said to be Jewish but wasn't actually in real life (everyone just thought he was).
  • Barney & Friends: Min is Filipino like her actress Pia Hamilton.
  • Batwoman (2019): Word of God says that, unlike in the comics, Kate is a vegan in the show just like Ruby Rose is; this change seems to have been done mostly for practicality's sake. They're both lesbians as well, but that was already part of the character.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2012) has Catherine's mother shown to be East Asian in the pilot, just like Kristin Kreuk's. Nicole Gale Anderson, who plays her sister Heather, also has an Asian mother, albeit South East Asian.
  • Being Human (UK): Annie, like Lenora Cricklow, is mixed race, with a black father and white mother.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Like his character Sheldon, Jim Parsons is a native Texan.
    • Mayim Bialik holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and her character, Amy Farrah Fowler, is a neurobiologist.
    • Simon Helberg's character Howard was known for showing off magic tricks. Helberg started his career as a stage magician.
  • Bones:
    • Pelant went to Stanford University and got a degree in Computer Science, just like his actor, Andrew Leeds.
    • Both Arastoo and his actor Pej Vahdat are Persian Muslims (though Paj isn’t Iranian born).
    • David Boreanaz really did want to be a pro athlete before wrenching his shoulder like Booth did.
    • Like Angela, Michaela Conlin has both a White father and Chinese mother.
  • The Boys (2019):
    • Haley Joel Osment plays Mesmer, a supe who is a Former Child Star.
    • Tomer Kapon, who plays Frenchie, has served in the Israeli military (most easily noticed when he handles guns, check that trigger discipline).
    • Kimiko turns out to be Japanese (well, her first name was kind of a giveaway already to anyone familiar with Japanese names). Karen Fukuhara is Japanese-American, born to Japanese parents in California.
    • Elena, Maeve's ex-girlfriend, is Latina. Nicola Correia Damude, who portrays her, is also Latina (Guyanese from her mother).
  • When Cordelia fell into a pit and was impaled by a rebar in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was just following in the footsteps (or was that footfalls?) of the actress who portrayed her — Charisma Carpenter had something very similar happen to her when she was young, and her scars from that experience were used for that scene.
  • Harry Anderson shared many similarities with his character "Harry the Hat" from Cheers, all of which were written into the character before Anderson auditioned: named Harry, never seen without his Cool Hat, does magic, small-time con artist (which Anderson wasn't, but had an onstage persona who was).
    • He also played a Character of the Day called Jack Fable on the children's show The Noddy Shop, who came to the shop to teach one of the child characters magic tricks for the school talent show.
  • On Chuck, the Ontario-born Vik Sahay's character Lester is revealed to have come from Saskatchewan.
  • Michael "Dauber" Dybynski from Coach was a former college football player who took a ridiculously long time to graduate. His actor, Bill Fagerbakke, was a former college football player who took six years to graduate, though not because he was an idiot like Dauber. He got into college on a football scholarship but switched his focus to theater after he injured his knee during his second year.
  • Community:
    • Abed is half-Polish, as is his actor, Danny Pudi.note 
    • As did Joel McHale, Jeff grew up in Seattle.
    • Some of the actors share the same religion as their characters, which they all reveal in the episode "Comparative Religion":
      • Annie is Jewish, and Alison Brie got her start playing at the Southern California Jewish Community Center. Even further, both character and actor have a Jewish mother and a Christian father.
      • Both Troy and Donald Glover were raised a Jehovah's Witness.
      • Yvette Nicole Brown is a committed Christian but is probably less abrasive about it than Shirley often is.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:
    • Rachel and Rebecca are both Jewish, both were considered "weird" as children, and both had anxiety and depression (although Rachel handled it slightly better than Rebecca). In fact, both have a lot in common, aside from the fact that Rachel grew up in Southern California and her parents didn't push her to be a lawyer. Bloom says that Rebecca is what she would be like if she hadn't discovered music and comedy.
    • When Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna were first developing the show as a pitch to Showtime, Bloom was also planning her wedding, and the resulting stress considerably boosted Bloom's own existing anxiety issues, which in turn she wrote into Rebecca's character.
    • Like Heather, Vella Lovell has Black and White heritage.
  • On Criminal Minds, Dr. Spencer Reid hails from Las Vegas and performs magic tricks as a hobby, just like the actor portraying him, Matthew Gray Gubler.
  • Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders: Agent Simmons is, like his actor Daniel Henney, the child of a Korean-born mother and white American father.
  • The Crown & The Flame: Prince Phillip's brother-in-law, the German prince Georg Donatus, is played by actual German prince August Wittgenstein (full name: Prince August Fredrik of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg).
  • CSI: NY:
    • Gary Sinise and Mac Taylor are both originally from Chicago, Illinois. Sinise's partial Irish heritage was also incorporated particularly with Mac's middle name, though it isn't the same as the actor's. Gary's skill at playing bass guitar was incorporated into the character as well, and he brought in members of his Lt. Dan Band to perform on two episodes. In fact, the bass Mac plays is Gary's own. Additionally, Mac's involvement in the creation of the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is based on the actor's real-life assistance with the project.
    • Melina Kanakaredes and her Greek character Stella both speak the language fluently. (Melina is the child of Greek immigrants.)
    • Carmine Giovinazzo's past of aspiring to a professional baseball career and then being sidelined by an arm injury was incorporated into Danny Messer's backstory. Rather naturally, the actor's Italian ethnicity was also incorporated. Additionally, both actor and character are from Staten Island. Also, the painting Danny gestures toward in an early episode involving an art gallery was done by Carmine himself.
    • Vanessa Ferlito is originally from New York, like her character Aiden Burn.
    • Sela Ward and Jo Danville were both cheerleaders.
    • Eddie Cahill and Don Flack are both Irish.
  • Lt. Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami hails from Forest Hills, Queens, NY. So does actor David Caruso.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Day of the Doctor," a far future incarnation of the Doctor (played by former Doctor Tom Baker) is revealed to be working as a museum curator. This was an actual job of Tom Baker for a while during his stint in the army.
    • Sophie Aldred had a Real Award, Fictional Character in the form of 2 Blue Peter badges, both hers.
    • Bill Potts meets the Doctor at a fictional university in Bristol. Pearl Mackie studied drama at the University of Bristol.
  • Sitcom star Fran Drescher has two examples from her career.
    • Most of Fran Fine's backstory on The Nanny is identical to Drescher's own life. Lived in Queens, graduated from Hillcrest High (with Ray Romano/Ray Barone), parents named Sylvia and Morty, a sister named Nadine, the list goes on and on.
    • Happily Divorced focuses on the main character, like Drescher, getting divorced after her husband reveals his homosexuality. The two remain close friends, and Fran's ex-husband is one of the producers for the show.
  • Euphoria:
    • Jules mentions plans to go to fashion design school, which was Hunter Schafer's original career plan before deciding to go into acting.
    • Just like Rue, Zendaya is half African-American and half Caucasian.
  • Everything's Gonna Be Okay: Kayla Cromer and Lillian Carrier, who play autistic characters Matilda and Drea, respectively, are both on the autism spectrum. Carrier also works as an autism consultant on the show.
  • Fear the Walking Dead: Travis is revealed to be Maori, like Cliff Curtis, the actor playing him. However, he's apparently American-born or spent most of his life in the US since he has an American accent.
  • Friends:
    • It's all over this trope, with all the actors incorporating huge aspects of themselves into their characters. Monica was originally designed as rather cold and cynical, but Courteney Cox turned her into the Team Mom to the in-universe gang that she was to the real-life cast. Matthew Perry influenced a lot of Chandler's neuroses: having divorced parents, being terrible with women (Chandler was gay before he was cast), and using humor as a defense mechanism, which Perry comments was the first thing he and the producers discussed. Matt Le Blanc made Joey more a big brother figure to the gang, like his real-life relationship with the three girls, and David Schwimmer and Ross Gellar were both Jewish.
    • In one interview, the cast is asked 'Who is The Most...' questions about each other. It's really hard to tell if they're talking about the actors or characters. Perry/Chandler is the funniest, Cox/Monica gives the best advice, Aniston/Rachel cries the most, LeBlanc/Joey would defend you in a fight, Kudrow/Phoebe is the quirkiest, Schwimmer/Ross is the most serious...
  • In short-lived NBC sitcom Friends with Benefits, main character Sara Maxwell is from Louisiana, just like portrayer Danneel Ackles.
  • In Full House, John Stamos' character's name changed from Jesse Cochran (generic) to Jesse Katsopolis (Greek) after the first season. His family when they come to visit is also very Greek.
  • Game of Thrones has an interesting subversion. Both Jon Snow and his actor are the sons of Noblemen but unlikely to inherit the title (Lord and Baronet, respectively), since Snow is illegitimate and Harington is legitimate but is not the firstborn son.
  • Not a person, but the entire setting of Ghosts. The premise of the show is that the last Lady Button died childless at the age of 99, leaving Button Hall to a very distant and very surprised relative who now has to find a way to fix up the crumbling stately home. Button Hall is "played" by West Horsley Place, which in 2014 was inherited by a distant and very surprised relative of the previous owner, who had just died childless at the age of 99; happily, the new owner was able to fix up the crumbling stately home (by auctioning the deceased duchess's possessions, raising £8.8 million).
  • Glee:
    • Similar to the Lost example below, we have Tina Cohen-Chang (Korean/Jewish), played by Jenna Ushkowitz.
    • You can briefly see Kurt Hummel's birthday when he fills out a college application. It's the same month and date as Chris Colfer's, though Kurt is three years younger.
    • In "Blame it on the Alcohol", Rachel expresses her desire to have Blaine's "vaguely Eurasian-looking children"—Blaine's actor, Darren Criss, has a Filipino mother and an Irish father.
    • In Season 4, cheerleader Kitty is played by Becca Tobin, who cheered for her middle school.
  • Hanna: Rhianne Barreto, like Sophie, is mixed race with European and South Asian descent.
  • On Hannah Montana, Miley Stewart and her father Robbie Ray are former residents of the fictitious Crowley Corners, a small rural town in Tennessee, and the show constantly reminds the viewers of the household's Deep South roots. This reflects the background of Miley Cyrus and her father, Kentucky-born 1990s country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, who resided in Thompson Station, Tennessee. Also an Actor-Inspired Element, as the decision to make Miley Stewart Southern was partly because a younger Miley found it hard to disguise her accent. Also, like Billy Ray, Robbie was a former country music heartthrob and superstar who settled down to raise his family.
  • How I Met Your Mother':
  • How to Get Away with Murder: Wes is mixed-race, with a black mother and a white father, just like Alfred Enoch.
  • I Love Lucy's Lucy Ricardo grew up in Celoron, NY, much like Lucille Ball did.
  • In the Russian medical sitcom Interns, the role of Dr. Phil Richards is played by Odin Biron. Like his character, Biron was born in the US and moved to live and work in Russia. In addition, Richards states that he was largely raised by two fathers. Odin Biron came out to his parents as a teenager, although he's forced to downplay that in Russia due to the homophobia prevalent in the country.
  • JAG: Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie is partially of Iranian heritage and speaks Farsi, as is and does actress Catherine Bell too.
  • Jeremiah: Elizabeth is mixed race. Actress Kandyse McClure who played her is of Cape Coloured descent (a South African ethnic group with Black, White and Malay ancestry).
  • Kiss Me First: Tippi appears to be a Japanese-English woman like her actress Haruka Abe, as indicated by her English accent and legal name of Tomiko Teshima.
  • The Japanese drama about voice acting Koe Girl has among the main characters gravure idol Jun Amaki, who plays the part of Konatsu Morimoto, a wannabe voice actress who is also trying to make it big as a gravure idol. When Konatsu's modeling work is shown, some of the pictures come from earlier actual Jun Amaki photoshoots.
  • In one episode of Law & Order, Lenny Brisco mentioned that his father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic, while he was Raised Catholic himself, the same as Jerry Orbach's real family background.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Inheritance", Marcus Chong (best known as Tank in the The Matrix) plays a character whose heritage (half African-American, half Chinese-American) matches his own exactly, even to the point of each parent's race (his father is the former, his mother the latter).
  • Law & Order: UK: DS Matt Devlin mentions his Irish heritage while trying to gain the trust of a young prostitute he's questioning. Indeed, although Jamie Bamber was born in London, he has Irish ancestry and citizenship, as his mother is Irish.
  • Liar: In an unusual examples, Vanessa's birth date (September 21 1976) is the same as her actor Shelley Conn's. Possibly thrown in from Conn, since she provides this over the phone as Vanessa.
  • Life: Detective Dani Reese is revealed as half Iranian like Sarah Shahi, and she speaks a bit of Farsi to an Iranian woman.
  • Lip Service: Laura Fraser is actually from Glasgow, and still lives in the city with her family.
  • Lost:
    • Doctor Pierre Chang shares the same French-first-name Chinese-last-name formula as his actor, François Chau.
    • Jack Shepard went to Columbia University, as did Matthew Fox.
  • Lost in Space (2018): Maxwell Jenkins grew up loving science fiction and robot stories, particularly The Iron Giant, which directly inspired the relationship between Will Robinson and the Robot.
  • Lovecraft Country: Jamie Chung, like Ji-Ah, is Korean. Well, Korean-American, though it's one of her few roles where she's been a character of Korean descent.
  • Max Klinger from M*A*S*H was from Toledo, Ohio, as was his actor, Jamie Farr, who also served in Korea (Klinger's dog tags were Farr's own). And yes, the Mud Hens are a real team, and Tony Packo's is a real restaurant (though it has fallen on hard times). Like Klinger, he also has Lebanese ancestry.
  • The Magicians: Zig-zagged with Penny. On one hand, he's Indian-American whereas the character in the novels is white. But on the other hand, actor Arjun Gupta is a Florida native just like his character.
  • In McHale's Navy, Ernest Borgnine wore a hat badge that always seemed smaller than any of his costars'. This is because everyone else was using badges that came from the central costuming department and that were then-current (the 1960s) US Navy issue that were inaccurately large for the World War II period. Borgnine's badge was his own personal property, kept by him from his active-duty days in the Navy, which began before Pearl Harbor—and he had already been discharged and re-enlisted because of the attack, much like McHale.note 
  • Murder in the First: Raffi Veracruz appears to be a Sephardic Jew judging by her name, like the actress playing her, Emmanuelle Chriqui.
  • Narcos: The actor portraying Javier Peña, Pedro Pascal, grew up in Texas, the same state in which the real Javier Peña was born and raised. Additionally, Javi briefly mentions in the third episode that he favors dogs over cats, a preference that Pascal has also demonstrated.
  • Never Have I Ever:
    • Fabiola Torres is played by Lee (LaRhonza) Rodriguez, who's Afro-Latin like her (in Rodriguez's case, specifically black Mexican) ancestry.
    • Darren Charles Barnet, like Paxton Hall-Yoshida, is half Japanese (although on his mother's side, unlike Paxton).
  • The Office: Pete "Plop" Miller, the new customer service guy in Season 9, lived in Vermont for most of his life before moving to Scranton. His actor Jake Lacy is a proud Vermonter as well.
  • Orange Is the New Black:
    • Both Nicky and Natasha Lyonne are estranged from their mothers and have had issues with substance dependency. Also, Lyonne actually did have a heart infection; the scar is real.
    • Kimiko Glenn, like Brook Soso, is of mixed Japanese and Scottish ancestry too.
  • Perfect Strangers plays with this in an episode where Balki and Larry act as flight attendants. Balki asks a passenger if he would like a beverage, and the passenger replies, "White Russian." Balki laughs, thinking that the passenger is referring to him as a White Russian. Balki says that many people make that mistake, and that he is actually an olive-skinned Myposian. Bronson Pinchot, who plays Balki, is half Russian.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Like Jim Caviezel, Reese is from Washington state.
    • Like Michael Emerson, Finch is from Iowa.
    • In season 3 episode 18, Allegiance, Shaw states that her mother was Iranian, making her half Iranian like Sarah Shahi, the actress portraying her. She also speaks fluent Farsi.
    • Like Amy Acker, Root is originally from Texas.
    • In "QSO", Root goes undercover as a ballet dancer. We don't see what she does, but one audience member finds her quite impressive. Acker studied dance for over ten years before she was acting.
  • On The Pinkertons, Angus Macfadyen plays Allan Pinkerton, who like him was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Catherine Sutherland, Amy Jo Johnson's replacement, played Katherine Hillard, also an Aussie (who doesn't know martial arts at first).
    • In Power Rangers S.P.D., Matt Austin played Bridge Carson, who was also Jewish.
  • Number Six in The Prisoner (1967) gives his exact date and time of birth — one of the only times in the series he volunteers any information. The date and time in question, in fact, belonged to Patrick McGoohan.
  • Halle Berry successfully lobbied for the title role in the Mini Series Queen (the story of Alex Haley's paternal grandmother) because they are both biracial (though the mixes are different—Queen's father was white, Berry's mother is).
  • In Relic Hunter, Sydney Fox was born in Hawai'i, just like her actress Tia Carrere.
  • Schitt's Creek:
    • Eugene Levy is Jewish, as is his character Johnny Rose.
    • Catherine O'Hara is Irish-Catholic, as is her character Moira Rose, but so is Levy's real-life wife Deborah Divine. Eugene Levy felt this would make O'Hara believable playing his real-life son's mother. She's also known Dan since he was a baby, given her long working relationship with his father.
    • As noted above, Daniel Levy is the real-life son of Eugene and his character David refers to himself as a "half-half situation" during the Christmas Episode when someone asks him if he is Jewish.
  • In the S Club 7 TV series, Tina Barrett's character was written to be a choreographer. Tina had been a dancer before joining the band and choreographed a few of their routines — as she was shown doing in the series.
  • Cece from Shake it Up, like Bella Thorne, is dyslexic. Also Deuce, like his actor Adam Irigoyen, was born in Cuba.
  • Silicon Valley:
    • Dinesh was born in Pakistan, but moved to the US for college and work, just like Kumail Nanjiani did in real life.
    • Jared, like his actor Zach Woods, grew up in New York. Woods obviously didn't have all the foster parents Jared did.
    • Monica is briefly mentioned to be from Canada, just like her actress Amanda Crew is.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • Leonard "Bones" McCoy is from Toccoa, Georgia, just like actor DeForest Kelley.
    • Pavel Chekov is from Russia. His actor, Walter Koenig, based Chekov's dubious Russian accent on that of his father, who was a Russian Jew.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Geordi La Forge is a Military Brat and has an ambiguously French name, like his actor LeVar Burton. (The name bit, however, is more of a fun coincidence, as the character was named after a fan of the original series and LeVar is a contraction of the actor's birth name, Levardis.)
    • Why did Commander William Riker suddenly start playing the trombone a few seasons in? Because actor Jonathan Frakes mentioned to Gene Roddenberry that he was a jazz trombonist.
    • Similar to the trombone, Beverly Crusher's dancing skill is mentioned once or twice, and she has an impressive dance-off with Data in the episode "Data's Day". In fact, Gates McFadden is a professional dancer, with several choreography credits on Jim Henson films.
    • Patrick Stewart shares several traits with Captain Picard. Deep knowledge and love of Shakespeare is an obvious one. Less well-known is that Stewart's fondness for Raymond Chandler stories helped to create the "Dixon Hill" meta-character.
  • Star Trek: Discovery:
    • Captain Phillipa Georgiou, who is revealed to be from Malaysia, just like her actress Michelle Yeoh (although from different places in Malaysia: Georgiou is from the island of Pulau Langkawi, while Yeoh is from the mainland). Averted with Emperor Phillipa Georgiou, who is not from Malaysia, despite having the same accent.
    • In season 3, the show cast Blu del Barrio as Adira Tal, a non-binary character, just like Blu themselves.
    • Additionally, the show has Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp, both gay, play a homosexual couple, Dr. Hugh Culber and Lt. Paul Stamets. Partly averted with the characters' Mirror Universe versions, which were stated to be bisexual. Then again, other characters from that universe were previously shown to be bisexual.
    • Ditto for the lesbian actress Tig Notaro playing the homosexual Cdr. Jett Reno.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • Jean-Luc Picard admits, just as Patrick Stewart has, that he isn't a fan of science fiction. He also has a pet pit bull, a breed Stewart has spent much of his later years rescuing and rehabilitating.
    • Evan Evagora shares a lot in common with his character Elnor, as he explains in this interview:
      Evagora: Art was imitating life in a way with certain aspects of my character. Elnor grows up in a house around all women, but in real life, I'm the youngest of seven kids, and I have five older sisters. My house was filled with women all the time growing up. Elnor's favorite book is Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. My favorite book is Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. I came to L.A. to film this, and I'd never been here before. I'd never set foot here before. It was a new experience for me. Just as leaving his home is new for Elnor.
      • The article also mentions that "Evagora says the mentor relationship Elnor has with Picard on the series mirrors his own interactions with Patrick Stewart on set."
    • Although it wasn't explicity stated onscreen in Season 1, showrunner Michael Chabon confirms that Rios is Chilean, like his actor Santiago Cabrera.
      Fan: So... is Cristóbal Ríos Chilean?
      Chabon: Claro que sí (Yes, of course).
  • St. Elsewhere: Like their characters Mark and Ellen Craig, William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett met and fell in love at college and married soon after graduation.
  • Strange Empire: Cara Gee and Tahmoh Pinkett really do have First Nations ancestry (she Ojibwe, he White River). However, Kat's half Cree and Caleb is half Blackfoot, so the specific backgrounds aren't a match. Tattiawna Jones, as well, is mixed Caucasian and Black Canadian like her character. Joanna Boland, who plays Morgan Finn, is cisgender though.
  • Supergirl (2015): Nia Nal reveals herself to be a transgender woman. She is played by trans woman Nicole Maines, who became known for the Maine Supreme Judicial Court case Doe v. Regional School Unit 26 regarding gender identity and bathroom use in schools.
  • Scott McCall on Teen Wolf is part Mexican, according to Word of God — just like the actor who plays him, Tyler Posey.
  • Tehran: All of the Israeli and Iranian characters are played by actors of those backgrounds (even if not born there in the latter case). It goes for those of Iranian Jewish descent as well.
  • Timeless: Like Goran Višnjić, Garcia Flynn was born in Croatia, though his mother was American. This explains his accent.
  • Trinkets: Tabitha is a biracial girl, like actress Quintessa Swindell. Moe's also mixed race, as is the actress playing her, Kiana Madeira.
  • The Troop is a show set in Oklahoma. Season 2 adds native Oklahoman Malese Jow to the cast.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): Like his character Roger Simpson Leeds in "Dream Me a Life", Eddie Albert was an elderly widower whose wife died three years earlier.
  • On The Vampire Diaries, Katerina Petrova/Katherine Pierce is Bulgarian, as is Nina Dobrev, the actress who plays her.
  • Vida: Mishel Prada, like her character Emma, is Mexican-American. The only difference is that while Prada's character is of full Mexican descent, Prada is of mixed Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and French descent. Likewise, Roberta Colindrez is half Honduran and half Argentine like her character, Nico. However, Colindrez is Mexican-American, having been born in Mexico though growing up within the US.
  • Walker: Emily Walker played soccer in her youth, just like her actress, Genevieve Padalecki.
  • What We Do in the Shadows: The main characters all share the same ethnic background as their actors. Iranian-British Kayvan Novak plays Nandor, from what is now southern Iran, Cypriot-British Natasia Demetriou plays the Greek/possibly Cypriot Nadja, plain English Matt Berry plays the English Laszlo, white American Mark Proksch plays the extremely white American Colin Robinson, and Hispanic Harvey Guillén plays Guillermo.
  • When We Rise: Trans woman Ivory Aquino plays Cecilia Chung, a trans woman, and in fact, this is her first role playing someone sharing her gender identity.
  • Whiskey Cavalier: Like her character Tina Marek, Marika Dominczyk was born in Poland, and then emigrated to the US with her parents.
  • The Wilds:
    • Helena Howard, playing Nora, is of mixed African-American and Caucasian ancestry like her character.
    • Martha and Jenna Clause are both Native American, though from different tribes.
    • Fatin and Sophia Ali are both from South Asian Muslim background.
  • On Wizards of Waverly Place the Russo family is said to be Mexican-Italian. The only one of the children to be of Mexican-Italian ethnicity is Selena Gomez. In reality, the Russos were written to be an Irish family but were changed to Mexican-Italian to accommodate Gomez's casting. Of course, Jerry, the father, is of Italian descent, just like his actor David DeLuise. Justin's actor David Henrie is at least of Italian background.

    Music 
  • Tom Waits' song "Eyeball Kid" from the album Mule Variations is shown from the perspective of a freak show carnival barker showing off the kid, mentions the kid's birthday being "the seventh of December, 1949". This is, of course, Tom Waits' own birthday.

    Professional Wrestling 
This is a very common occurrence in Professional Wrestling, where a wrestler's background will be used to create a gimmick for that wrestler.

  • One famous example is Ray Traylor's background as a prison guard at a Georgia prison, which was used to create his character the Big Bossman.
  • Another famous example is that of Paul Bearer, most famous as manager of The Undertaker. In real life, Bill Moody was a funeral director who owned and ran a funeral home until his death in 2013.
  • Naomi was brought up as the dancing valet for the 'Funkasaurus' Brodus Clay. She had been a dancer for the Orlando Magic for years prior to getting into wrestling. Averted with her partner Cameron, who was not a dancer.
  • Aiden English was given the gimmick of a snobby pretentious actor wannabe, later transitioning into a vaudeville performer. He studied acting in college and has a Bachelor of Arts, and he had been stage acting for years beforehand.
  • Devin Taylor was assigned in the role of backstage interviewer. She's a qualified broadcast journalist in real life.
  • Back in the 1980s, Wendi Richter's first gimmick was that of a Texas cowgirl. She had done rodeos and worked with horses for years. The props and costumes she wore were what she had used back then.
  • Tyson Tomko and Brodus Clay were both bodyguards for famous artists (Tomko for Limp Bizkit, Clay for Snoop Dogg) before they were enforcers for higher-rated WWE and TNA wrestlers like Christian, Trish Stratus, Alberto Del Rio, or EC3.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A partial example, since the shared background wasn't established until after the performer's death: Kermit's Swamp, which had previously wandered around most areas of the US where a swamp might be, now seems to be firmly established as in Mississippi, not far from Jim Henson's birthplace.

    Video Games 
  • One of the motion actors playing Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3, Motosada Mori, is a real-life mercenary. He also invented CQC for the games, paralleling how Snake and The Boss developed CQC together.
  • Troy Baker provides the voice of Joel in The Last of Us. Both Baker and Joel are from Texas.
  • Joe Zieja attended a military academy before joining the Air Force then going into intelligence gathering. He voices Claude in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, whose also attending a military academy, and Full Band in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, whose an air force pilot, and both of them have a way of gathering intelligence.
  • Trevor Philips from Grand Theft Auto V is Canadian, as is his actor, Steven Ogg.

    Web Video 
  • Epic Rap Battles of History:
    • "Bruce Banner vs Bruce Jenner" features transgender rapper No Shame as Caitlyn Jenner post-transition.
    • Any time a combatant is non-white, Peter and Lloyd will always bring in a guest star of the appropriate ethnicity. They also usually get women for the female roles, except for Lady Gaga, who was played by Peter in drag.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: Elisa Maza was originally going to be Hispanic, but her race and ethnicity were changed to half-African, half-Native American after Salli Richardson-Whitfield was cast in the role.
  • Batman: The Animated Series had one-off villain Calendar Girl, voiced by Sela Ward, who were both former models "past their prime" in the eyes of the industry, with Ward in particular being told "What we really want is Sela, but Sela ten years ago" when she applied to be a Bond girl at 39... opposite 42-year-old Pierce Brosnan.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Dennis Weaver voices Buck McCoy, a former Western star who had a detective show in the '70s. Dennis Weaver himself, of course, was a former Western star who had a detective show in the '70s.
  • An episode of Static Shock featured a villain named Replay, who was a former child star that had trouble getting work after his sitcom was canceled. They got real-life former child star Neil Patrick Harris (who hadn't yet had his big comeback role with How I Met Your Mother) to voice the character.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Adam McArthur is an avid martial artist who occasionally competes in tournaments, just like his character Marco Diaz.
  • Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz has Dorothy, a Kansas girl, voiced by Kari Wahlgren, who grew up in Kansas.
  • In Puppy Dog Pals, it's revealed that Chloe's family is Jewish. Chloe's mother is voiced by Tara Strong, who was born to Jewish parents.
  • For DuckTales (2017), series showrunner Frank Angones admitted to casting as many ethnic characters with actors of their respective nationalities as much as possible. It's impressive how much they do. For example:
    • Scrooge in this series is voiced by David Tennant, making this the first time he's been voiced by an actual Scottish actor. Likewise, his parents are voiced by Graham McTavish and Ashley Jensen, who also have a Scottish background.
    • Catherine Tate, who's British, voices Magica DeSpell, who's been subjected to Adaptational Nationality to match her ethnicity.
    • "The House Of The Lucky Gander" takes place in China, and has a character named Toad Liu Hai voiced by Chinese actor B.D. Wong.
    • "The Spear Of Selene" takes place in Greece, and has Selene, Zeus, and Storkules voiced by actors of Greek descent (Nia Valadros, Michael Chiklis, and Chris Diamontopolous respectively).
    • Don Karnage is made into a Latino, and is voiced by Mexican actor Jamie Camil.
    • Panchito and Jose are voiced by Bernardo De Paula and Jose Arturo Del Puerto, who are respectively Mexican and Brazilian like their characters.
    • Gizmoduck is Race Lifted into Hispanic and voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
    • Jormungandr is a serpentine wrestler that came straight from Norse Mythology and voiced by Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju.
  • DC Super Hero Girls:
    • Jessica Cruz, a Green Lantern of Latina background, is voiced by Cristina Milizia, who has Spanish relatives.
    • Frost's Hero Of The Month entry shows her being good at math, as well as making some math related puns in later episodes. She's voiced by Danica McKellar, who's also a gifted mathematician.
  • Legend of the Three Caballeros has Panchito, a Mexican, voiced by Jamie Camil, who's also Mexican.
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters has a few cases of this:
    • Nathan Park/Wingspan, one of the show's protagonists, is Korean and is voiced by Korean-American voice actor Steven Yeun.
    • Riya Dashti, who's of Iranian background, is voiced in flashbacks by Kathreen Khavari, whose parents were born in Iran. Khavari also voices Riya's aunt.
    • While she doesn't have French ancestry, Vanessa Marshall is fluent in a French accent, hence why she uses the accent for Madam Toussant, the leader of the Sables.
  • Elena of Avalor has a few examples:
    • Jillian Rose Reed (Naomi) is American but is reportedly raised by Puerto Rican parents. Naomi and her family is said to be from another kingdom, though Naomi seems to consider Avalor a second home.
    • Lou Diamond Phillips (Victor) is Filipino (Filipina mother, American father), though he has passed as a Mexican-American in some of his roles, such as in La Bamba. Probably helps that the Philippines has prominent Spanish influence, on par of that of Latin American countries.
    • Jane Fonda supported the Chilean "No" movement against Pinochet's dictatorship, as seen in No, making her character role in Elena of Avalor ironic.
    • Antonio Angama is voiced by Danny Trejo, who was born in Mexico.
  • Mickey and the Roadster Racers reveals that Billy Beagle has a car collection, much like his voice actor, Jay Leno.
  • We Bare Bears had an episode called "Ramen" which has a character named Kazumi, who owns a Japanese noodle shop. She's voiced by Romi Dames, who was born in Japan.
  • Amphibia: The main character, Anne, is Thai-American. She's voiced by Brenda Song, an American who is half-Thai.
  • In Infinity Train, Jesse Cosay is a Native American who hails from the Apache tribe. His voice actor, Robbie Daymond, is part-Apache himself.
  • Beast Boy in Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! is vegetarian or vegan, depending on the episode (either way, he doesn't eat meat). His voice actor, Greg Cipes, has been vegetarian since he was eight years old and went vegan in 2009.

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