Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and producer/screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, was born Dec. 19, 1980 in Los Angeles and graduated from L.A.’s Harvard-Westlake preparatory high school. The actor and his sister, Maggie, have been in showbiz since childhood. Gyllenhaal gained much attention for his role as a teen plagued by visions of person in a bunny costume in the 2001 film “Donnie Darko,” which earned him a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award. His 2005 hit, “Brokeback Mountain,” also won him much attention for his role as a cowboy in a homosexual affair, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Rapper and actor Snoop Dogg, born Calvin Broadus on Oct. 20, 1972 in Long Beach, apparently got the nickname “Snoop” from his mother because she thought he resembled the “Peanuts” character. Before he made it big as a rapper, Snoop had plenty of run-ins with the law and did time in prison. His friend, Warren G, linked him up with rapper/producer Dr. Dre, who helped Snoop record his first album and mega hit, “Doggystyle.” Like many of his peers, Snoop has branched out into the film and reality TV realms. The rapper has also had additional run-ins with the law and a couple of lawsuits since attaining stardom.
Producer/director Michael Bay, born Feb. 17, 1965, wasn’t always behind the lens of a camera. In fact, he had several bit roles in movies like “Bad Boys II” (which he also directed), “Coyote Ugly” and “Armageddon.” He even appeared as “Goon #3” in a 1986 episode of the TV crime series “Miami Vice.” Since then, however, Bay has gone on to executive produce and direct three installments of the “Transformers” film (the third one slated for a 2011 release). Bay did most of his schooling in L.A. County, having graduated from Crossroads high school in Santa Monica and also earned his graduate degree at Pasadena Art Center College of Design.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, born on Nov. 11, 1974 in Los Angeles, became a Hollywood heartthrob and go-to leading man after his role in James Cameron’s “Titanic,” released in 1997. However, DiCaprio had been garnering much attention before then due to his appearances in “This Boy’s Life,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “Rome and Juliet,” among a string of other films and TV appearances (like his recurring role on “Growing Pains”). In addition to his acting career, the L.A. native is active in environmental issues, and wrote and narrated an environmental documentary called “The 11th Hour,” which debuted at Cannes in 2007.
John Singleton, born Jan. 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, is best known for his work as a film director on 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood,” which portrays some of what Singleton experienced while growing up in South Central L.A. Singleton became the first African-American and the youngest person to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for his 1991 hit. Having graduated from the University of SoCal’s School of Cinema Arts, Singleton managed to score three writing awards and even a contract during his sophomore year. He’s made other films, like “Poetic Justice,” “Higher Learning,” and the much-praised independent film “Hustle & Flow.”
So what do you think — which one of these Los Angelenos is an iconic native son? Who else would you add to the list?