Ariana Grande is one of the biggest names in pop. She is known for hits like, “Thank You, Next” and “7 rings”. She is known for being a sweetheart and for her high ponytail. But, a lot of people are confused about her ethnic roots. She is famous for being on Victorious, which was a children’s show on Nickelodeon. During the course of this show, she had bright red hair and somewhat pale skin. In the present day, however, Ariana is usually seen sporting a long brunette hairstyle and is pretty tan most of the time. So the question everyone seems to be asking is: what is Ariana Grande’s background?
How She Got Her Start
Ariana started to rise to fame at the age of 15, starring on Broadway in the show 13. She won a National Youth Theater Association Award for this performance. Even before that, she had performed in local plays in her hometown. Her early experience on stage enabled her to score her role in the TV show, Victorious in 2010. Grande played a ditzy and sweet character named Cat Valentine. During this time, she dabbled in music, appearing on the Victorious soundtrack.
In 2011, she released what would become her first single, “Put Your Hearts Up”.
After the show ended, Grande starred in a spin-off show entitled Sam and Cat which aired on Nickelodeon from roughly a year starting in 2013 and ending in July of 2014 and was based on iCarly and Victorious.
Music Career Takes Off
Fans of Victorious already knew Ariana could sing, but when she released her debut album, the rest of the world found out as well. “The Way” was the first single she released from Yours Truly and came out in 2013 and featured fellow singer Mac Miller whom she would eventually start a relationship with prior to his overdose death. Ariana continued to release hit after hit, each record breaking the last. These included, “Problem”, “Break Free” and “Love Me Harder”. From 2014 until now she has won Grammys, topped charts, and went on multiple world tours.
Tragedy on Tour
While performing on her Dangerous Woman tour in 2017, Ariana performed in Manchester England. After the concert, a suicide bomber set off a bomb at the exit of the concert. This resulted in 22 deaths and 116 wounded. After this, Grande suspended her world tour and went back to Manchester 13 days later to do a benefit concert for the victims. She has Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and several others perform with her. Ariana also visited fans who had been injured during the attack. A year later, Grande revealed that she was still suffering from PTSD from this event.
Ariana has dated a number of high profile men in her life. One of the most famous, however, was her relationship with Mac Miller. They dated for two years, and she made music with him multiple times. Even after they broke up, they remained close friends. But on September 7, 2018, Mac Miller passed away due to an accidental drug overdose on cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol. This devastated Ariana, who at the time, was in another high profile relationship with Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson.
After Mac Miller and Ariana broke up in 2018, she started seeing Pete. They announced their relationship publicly in May. Davidson went all in very quickly with his new girlfriend, and ended up getting multiple tattoos dedicated to her. Grande even came out with a song named after him on her new album Sweetener. They quickly became engaged but broke it off not much later. This could have been attributed to Miller’s untimely death and how much it affected Ariana. After their breakup, Pete Davidson said on SNL that he wished her nothing but happiness.
Ariana has famously name-dropped in her songs about her exes, the most famous occurrence of this being in “Thank You, Next”, where she talks about loving herself. Ariana says in the song, “…even almost got married, and for Pete I’m so thankful, wish I could say thank you to Malcolm, ‘cause he was an angel.”
Ariana has been criticized for bringing up Mac Miller in her song because some people actually partially blame her for his death which is patently ridiculous and Mac Miller personally never would have done so. He was battling several demons of his own and his overdose was partly as a result of that time in his life being such a struggle for the artist.
Cherry Red to Nutmeg Brown
Grande had some iconic bright red hair during the show Victorious. Obviously, this was dyed, and it ruined her hair. After constantly dying it red, her follicles became extremely broken. After the show, she started wearing a high ponytail (her signature look now) and hair extensions. Some people were confused about the shift in appearance claiming Ariana was trying to “change ethnicities”. But the truth is, she was never a natural redhead, it was all part of the show.
The public has a very hard time figuring out Ariana’s race or her ethnicity. The main reason for this is her dark complexion, which results in tanning during certain times of the year. People have even criticized her for being “too dark” for someone who is not black.
The racial ambiguity phenomenon has actually been studied by people on how it affects one’s career. With social media, artists are able to have more control over how they are presenting themselves and how they’re identifying with certain audiences.
This concept is not something that is new. People have been somewhat fixated on ethnically ambiguous people for years. Artists like Justin Timberlake, Christinia Aguilera, and many others have been able to achieve success using this concept to their advantage, broadening their genres.
In 2016 when she came out with Dangerous Woman, she appeared in a music video with Nicki Minaj where she was noticed to have been almost the same complexion as Nicki. Fans were not happy about this comparison.
The problem lies in artists exploiting their ambiguity for profit, and presenting people of color in a negative light.
So What is Her Actual Ethnicity?
Many people have guessed Ariana might be Hispanic or mixed or a variant of the two, but she is actually of Italian descent. Ariana was born in Florida and is an American citizen, but her roots go back to Italy. She describes herself as an Italian American, who is half Sicilian and half Abruzzese. Abruzzo and Sicily are both a part of Southern Italy.
Her full name is Ariana Grande-Butera. Butera is an Italian town in the southern part of Sicily. Ariana can actually speak some Italian, although she is not fluent. In 2015, she collaborated with Andrea Bocelli to sing “E Più Ti Penso”.
At the end of the day, it is fairly unclear what her actual ethnicity is, but her Italian roots are something she has spoken about on multiple occasions. However, she is free to express her heritage in any way that she chooses and if she does decide to stay quiet about it, then it might be okay for the rest of the world to let that happen.