With its close proximity to NYC and the densely populated state itself, New Jersey is home to more than just regular people. Although it may be a small state, it is packed with movie stars, athletes, singers, and more who have NJ roots. Women who are no longer with us like Clara Barton and Whitney Houston have paved the way for famous Jersey girls today. We’ve rounded up a list of women celebrities who have called New Jersey home. Read on for more about these famous ladies.
First Lady Jill Biden
(Photo credit: @flotus)
First Lady Jill Biden was first a Jersey girl. She was born in Hammonton and spent many summers along the Jersey Shore before moving to Delaware and, ultimately, The White House.
Actress and Comedian Michelle Buteau
(Photo credit: @michellebuteau)
Michelle Buteau is best known for her many roles on Netflix including narrating The Circle and starring in Someone Great. Michelle was born in New Jersey and jokes about how many NJ towns she’s lived in throughout the state in her Netflix stand-up special. She has been a resident of Hamilton, Trenton, and Marlton.
Actress Lauren Cohan
(Photo credit: @laurencohan)
Lauren Cohan is best known for her role in The Walking Dead. She was born and raised in Cherry Hill until moving to the United Kingdom with her mother.
Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs
(Photo credit: @joettaolympian)
Joetta Clark Diggs has had the longest-running track and field career in modern history. Before lacing up for World Championship and Olympic races, she was born in East Orange and raised in Newark. She attended Columbia High School where she ran track and won the Meet of Champions all four years.
Actress Kirsten Dundst
(Photo credit: @kirstendunst)
Kristen Dundst could have been an original Jersey Shore cast member. She was born in Point Pleasant and lived in Brick until age eleven. She attended Ranney School in Tinton Falls until moving to Los Angeles in 1993 with her mother and brother.
Actress Taissa Farmiga
(Photo credit: @taissafarmiga)
Taissa is known for her horror roles, earning her the title of the ‘Scream Queen’ of this generation. She was born in Whitehouse Station and attended local schools until 4th grade when she started homeschooling.
Actress Vera Farmiga
(Photo credit: @verafarmiga)
Vera is known for her role in The Conjuring but is a Jersey girl at heart. She was born in Clifton and moved around the state with her family as a child. She was raised in a Ukrainian-American neighborhood in Irvington before moving to Whitehouse Station. Vera attended Hunterdon Central Regional High School where she discovered her love of acting during her junior year after earning the lead role in a school production.
Olympic Gold Medalist English Gardner
(Photo credit: @ughlyducklin)
Olympic Gold Medalist English Gardner grew up in Vorhees where she graduated from Eastern Regional High School in 2010. Her accomplishments on the track include a gold and silver medal as a part of the 4x100m relay team.
Comedian Chelsea Handler
(Photo credit: @chelseahandler)
Chelsea Handler grew up in Livingston. She lived with her parents and five siblings and attended Livingston High School before moving to Los Angeles at the age of 19.
(Photo credit: @iamhalsey)
Before becoming the singer we know today, Halsey was born with the name Ashley Nicolette Frangipane in Edison, New Jersey. She graduated from Warren Hills Regional High School in Washington before being discovered by the music industry.
Read More: Hoboken + Jersey City Spots Where You’re Most Likely to Run Into a Celebrity
Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez
(Photo credit: @lauriehernandez)
Laurie Hernandez flipped her way to Gold during the 2016 Olympic Games. She is originally from Old Bridge where she was born and raised. Laurie attended Abeka Academy High School in Old Bridge before competing.
Singer Cissy Houston
Singer Cissy Houston was the eighth and final child born to her parents in Newark. She lived there until her family moved during the Great Migration. Just before having a career in her own right, singing backup for Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley alongside Dionne Warwick, she gave birth to one of New Jersey’s brightest stars – Whitney Houston. She is still very active in the area, leading the 200-person gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark with whom she performs at McDonald’s Gospelfest at the Prudential Center annually.
Actress Jane Krakowski
Jane Krakowski has graced the television screen since the mid-80s. She hails from Parsippany Hills where she started her acting career in high school. After graduation, she went on to continue acting at Rutgers University.
Actress + Rapper Queen Latifah
(Photo credit: @queenlatifah)
While the world knows her as Queen Latifah, she was born Dana Elaine Owens in Newark. Queen Latifah spent much of her childhood with her parents in East Orange. She debuted her acting and singing skills here in NJ as well in a grammar school production of The Wiz.
Olympic Gold Medalist + FIFA World Cup Champion Soccer Player Carli Lloyd
(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)
American soccer player Carli Lloyd was raised in Delran Township. She was introduced to soccer at the age of five in New Jersey and fell in love. She played soccer in high school and then at Rutgers University from 2001-2004. In 2013, she was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Fame.
Olympic Gold Medalist Sydney McLaughlin
(Photo credit: @ sydneymclaughlin16)
Sydney McLaughlin knows what it’s like to bring gold back to New Jersey. She is best known for her performance on the track where she specializes in the 400m hurdles. Sydney was born in New Brunswick and grew up in Dunellen. She attended Union Catholic High School.
Olympic Gold Medalist Athing Mu
(Photo credit: @athiiing)
Athing Mu showed the world what she was capable of on the track during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, winning two gold medals. This track star was born in Trenton and is one of seven children in her family.
Olympic Bronze Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad
(Photo credit: @ibtihajmuhammad)
Ibtihaj Muhammad represented the United States in fencing during the 2016 Olympics and has been part of the National Fencing Team since 2010. She was born and raised in Maplewood. Her parents were both instrumental in the area as a special education teacher and police officer. She graduated from Columbia High School in 2003 before attending Duke University.
Actress Laura Prepon
(Photo credit: @lauraprepon)
The nation fell in love with Laura Prepon as Donna on That 70s Show and again as Alex Vause on Orange is the New Black, but New Jersey knew her first. Laura was born in Watchung and it’s where she spent her childhood.
Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam
(Photo credit: @keshiaknightpulliam)
Keshia Knight Pulliam is best known for her role as Rudy on the popular sitcom The Cosby Show. She was born in Newark and lived there for much of her childhood while acting on the show. She attended Rutgers Preparatory Academy in Somerset before moving to Virginia with her family after the show wrapped.
Actress + Comedian Melissa Rauch
(Photo credit: @melissarauch)
Melissa Rauch has kept the country laughing for years in her role on the popular Big Bang Theory and as the voice of various characters in movies like Ice Age and Batman and Harley Quinn. She hails from Marlboro and attended Marlboro public schools. She found her love of comedy and acting at a young age and even had a “Melissa’s Comedy Club” themed Bat Mitzvah.
Actress Tara Reid
(Photo credit: @tarareid)
Tara Reid is a born and raised Jersey girl. Before making it big, she lived with her family in Wyckoff. She started acting at the age of six, appearing in hundreds of commercials before moving to Los Angeles to continue acting.
See More: Local Celebrities: Hoboken + Jersey City Residents on Reality TV
Actress + TV Personality Kelly Ripa
(Photo credit: @kellyripa)
Kelly Ripa proudly represents her Jersey roots regularly on Live! With Kelly and Ryan. The actress and talk show host was born in Berlin, NJ, and attended high school in Vorhees. She even started her time in higher education at Camden County College before moving to New York to pursue acting.
Actress Zoe Saldana
(Photo credit: @zoesaldana)
Zoe Saldana is best known for her roles in Avatar, Crossroads, and Guess Who. However, what many people do not know is that Zoe was born in the Garden State. She was born on June 19, 1978, in Passaic shortly before her family moved to New York.
Actress and Singer Nancy Sinatra
(Photo credit: @nancysinatra)
The daughter of Ole Blue Eyes himself, Nancy Sinatra made a career for herself in her own right. Nancy was born in Jersey City and then moved to Hasbrouck Heights with her family before moving west for her father’s acting career.
Olympian Jessica Springsteen
(Photo credit: @jessicaspringsteen)
The daughter of one of the most famous New Jerseyians, Bruce Springsteen, Jessica Springsteen stepped onto the world stage during the 2020 Olympics as an equestrian. Jessica grew up in Monmouth County with her family owning homes in both Colts Neck and Rumson where she started riding at the age of four. Jessica attended Rumson Country Day School and Ranney School.
Actress Meryl Streep
(Photo credit: @merylstreep)
This woman needs no introduction. Known as the ‘best actress of her generation,’ Actress Meryl Streep has been giving the world classics for decades. Meryl was born in Summit and spent much of her young life in Basking Ridge and Bernardsville where she started acting and singing in school plays. She was a cheerleader in high school and was also voted Homecoming Queen.
Actress + Singer Ashley Tisdale
(Photo credit: @ashleytisdale)
Ashley Tisdale is a native of Monmouth County. Here is where she was discovered by a talent agent at the age of three in a New Jersey mall. She spent many of her childhood years performing at the Monmouth County Jewish Community Center before moving to Los Angeles with her family at the age of thirteen.
Singer + Actress Dionne Warwick
(Photo credit: @therealdionnew)
Dionne Warick is a living legend in the music industry. The singer was born in Orange and spent the entirety of her childhood in East Orange. She grew up singing alongside other legends like Cissy Houston and Doris “Rikii” Troy at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark.
Radio + TV Personality Wendy Williams
(Photo credit: @therealwendywilliamsonline)
Wendy Williams is known for not holding back on her opinions on both radio and television. She was born in Asbury Park and moved with her family to Ocean Township in the 1970s. Her parents were both educators in the area. She graduated from Ocean Township High School and even has a street named after her in her hometown.
Actress Malinda Williams
(Photo credit: @malinsworld)
Malinda Williams is best known for her roles in the Showtime series Soul Food and motion pictures such as Daddy’s Little Girls and Idlewild. Malinda was raised in Westfield and her family still has ties to the area with her parents and sisters living in nearby towns.
Olympian Dagmara Wozniack
(Photo credit: @dagmarawozniak)
Dagmara Wozniack represented the United States proudly during the 2008 Olympic Games as a part of the fencing team. When she and her family immigrated to the United States, they settled in Avenel. She graduated from Colonia High School in 2006 after becoming the High School Saber Fencing Champion in 2005.