Celebrities Who Grew Up In The South

Celebrities are known for living in major cities like Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Miami, and New York City. These cities offer A-list stars luxurious places to call home while providing them exquisite fine dining, upscale shopping, exclusive nightclubs, and privacy. Thanks to their immense stardom, celebs are often given priority when getting a table at a famed restaurant that's always booked or can even get major stores to close their doors so they can shop around. Stars live and life of glitz and glam, and the cities mentioned above are known for catering to the rich and famous. 

Although celebs get a reputation for living large, a handful of them didn't forget their humble beginnings. Stars born and raised in the South know a thing or two about Southern hospitality, which has become instilled in these celebs. They say people from the South are known for their kindness, politeness, and good home cooking, and the stars mentioned here definitely know a thing or two about that, despite living among the uber-famous. They may call L.A. home, but these celebs below haven't forgotten their Southern roots.

Courteney Cox

Courteney Cox might have played New York City chef Monica Gellar on "Friends," but the actor's roots run deep in her hometown of Mountain Brook, Alabama. In an interview with Today, Cox recalled living in the southern state where she worked as a pool salesperson but had dreams of making it big in Hollywood. Although Cox was able to land modeling gigs and starred in Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" video, money became tight, with the star's father telling her, "'CC, it's a long fall from California to Alabama.'" Cox added, "He just thought I should come home and do what I do, sales.'" Thankfully, Cox booked "Family Ties," and five years later, landed the role of Gellar on "Friends."

Although Cox has become a widely recognized Hollywood star, she still manages to remind her fans where she came from. In June 2021, the actor shared a hometown recipe she named the "Alabama roll" on Instagram. She started her video by showing viewers a California roll, stating, "We didn't have these where I grew up." Cox then shared a snack that consisted of mayonnaise and mustard added on a slice of turkey and topped with Frito chips, cheese, and avocado, which she rolled up into a sushi roll. 

Jennifer Garner

Before she became a famous actor, Jennifer Garner was an ordinary girl living in West Virginia. The "13 Going on 30" actor remembers living in her parent's home in the city of Charleston quite vividly. Speaking to Kerry Washington on an episode of "Streets You Grew Up On," Garner recalled playing kick the can and making forts in a wooded area behind her home with the children in the neighborhood. Garner also recalled having her mother make everything from food to clothing, which was a massive part of what home meant for her. 

She shared, "There was no money for anything fancy, so mom made everything that we ate, everything that we wore. God bless that woman, she did everything." (7:50) Now that she's a Hollywood star, Garner gives back to her home state. She also shared that she partnered with the Save the Children organization to help kids living in poverty in rural areas. In 2008, Garner returned to Charleston, where she told People, "I'm always so happy to come home. There's never enough time. Just seeing the mountains, and seeing the green, and the river is the most soothing thing in the world to me."

Garner has also lent a helping hand to those who need help understanding West Virginia slang. For Vanity Fair, the "Alias" star held up an iPad with different words visitors may hear a West Virginian say. For example, typical West Virginia words included "Crick" for "creek," while a "Cat's Head" meant a giant biscuit.

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake is very proud of his Tennessee roots. His biography states that he was born and raised in Memphis, known for its rich and historic music scene. Timberlake grew up singing in his church choir and eventually found success in the '90s as a member of NSYNC. In 2002, Timberlake ventured into a solo career that was just as promising with the release of 2002's "Justified." In subsequent years, Timberlake's career expanded into nearly every facet of the entertainment industry.

His fifth solo album, 2018's "Man of the Woods," brought the artist back to his Southern roots. The record featured a new folk sound and a song with country artist Chris Stapleton titled "Say Something." Timberlake shared when announcing his new record, "This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any other album I've ever written, where I'm from, and it's personal." Notably, it wasn't the first time that Timberlake noted that his origins impacted his work.

In 2016, Timberlake used the city of Memphis as his inspiration behind the re-launch of his clothing line William Rast. He told Billboard, "It's gotta be a little bit country, and it's gotta be a little bit rock 'n' roll at the same time." According to Us Weekly, Timberlake, his wife, Jessica Biel, and their two children left Los Angeles behind to move to Tennessee in 2021. A source stated, "They both prefer the country life. It's great for the boys because they have so much space and freedom." 

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon is a Southern girl through and through. The actor was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, but was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, as noted by Biography. Witherspoon made it big in Hollywood with movies like "Cruel Intentions" and "Legally Blonde." She even had the chance to showcase her Southern charm when she starred in the 2002 romantic "Sweet Home Alabama" and the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," in which she portrayed June Carter.

Having been raised in Nashville, it's no surprise that Witherspoon and her husband, Jim Toth, have owned more than one home in the Music City. According to Dirt, Witherspoon purchased a beautiful mansion in 2018 but sold it for almost $7.4 million in 2022. However, that's nothing compared to the $18 million home they now call home in the city. Unsurprisingly, these aren't the only indications of Witherspoon's Southern pride.

Witherspoon opened up her first brick-and-mortar store for her Southern-inspired clothing line Draper James in Nashville in 2015, per The Tennessean. The actor wrote on the Draper James website that the fashion line was specifically created to honor her Southern heritage and was named after her grandparents, Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon. Speaking to Architectural Digest about her sense of style, she shared, "I was born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville, so I was greatly influenced by Southern women: the way they dress for every occasion, their love for family heirlooms, and their passion for pattern and color."

Britney Spears

Britney Spears has been in the public eye her entire life and never more so than after she was freed from her 13-year conservatorship in 2021. But, despite having lived a life of glitz and glam ever since breaking out in the pop scene in 1998, Spears is a Southern girl at heart. Her biography states that she was born in McComb, Mississippi, and spent her childhood in Kentwood, Louisiana. 

Although music fans around the world may better know her for poppy hits like 2000's "Oops!... I Did It Again," Spears hasn't lost her Southern dialect. From how she writes with Southern slang here and there on Instagram (which has been decoded by one Tik Toker from the South) to saying "y'all" more than anyone could ever count, Spears' Southern roots are still alive and well.

According to the New York Post, Spears' childhood home in Louisiana was sold for less than $300,000 in February 2021. The quaint, ranch-style home was sold to an unknown buyer "fully furnished," which means they likely now own pieces of Spears' history. As for Spears, TMZ reported that she bought an $11 million home in Calabasas, California, for herself and her husband, Sam Asghari, in June 2022. 

Fox News reported that in 2015, the city of Kentwood had referred to itself as "the home of Britney Spears." Clearly, the residents of the small town are proud of their connection to the music icon.

Ryan Seacrest

Ryan Seacrest transitioned from Los Angeles to New York City when he purchased a townhouse after landing the hosting gig with Kelly Ripa on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" in 2017. According to Hello!, the host's lavish Big Apple home costs him around $75,000 a month, which isn't an issue for Seacrest given the many jobs he holds under his belt. Producing reality television shows like "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," hosting "American Idol," and being the man we hear on the radio during our morning commutes, we have to wonder if Seacrest ever really gets to enjoy his lavish NYC dwelling.

Despite all that success, Seacrest has not forgotten about his Southern upbringing. Biography notes that the host was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where he attended high school and got a radio hosting job. From there, Seacrest attended the University of Georgia and later moved to Los Angeles, where he launched his radio show. 

When Seacrest finds the time to return to Atlanta, he makes sure to dine at his favorite restaurants. He shared with DuJour that he's a fan of eating at the Mexican restaurant La Paz and, while with family, he enjoys the food at Pricci. "For special occasions, my family goes to this great restaurant called Pricci. The food and ambiance are consistently wonderful," he said. 

Eva Longoria

"Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria and her husband Jose Baston may reside in a stunning $13 million home in Beverly Hills, California, but she has a lot of love for her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. Longoria was born and raised in the city and attended Texas A&M University Kingsville, where she was crowned Miss TAMUK, a scholarship pageant, in 1996, per 3 News. Her biography also notes that she went on to win the Miss Corpus Christi beauty pageant in 1998. 

Of course, Longoria moved on from her hometown to pursue her acting career. She landed her first major acting roles on "Beverly Hills 90210" and "General Hospital" in 2000. Then, in 2004, she nabbed the part of Gabrielle Solis in "Desperate Housewives," which ran for eight seasons and became her most recognized role. In fact, it seems pretty likely that even more of Longoria's fans associate her with Wisteria Lane than they do Corpus Christi. 

However, Longoria has noted that the city of her birth continues to play an active role in her career. In April 2018, Longoria was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and mentioned her Texas upbringing. "I feel like I'm still a little girl from Corpus Christi, Texas, who had a really big dream," the actor said, adding, "I just want to say as a woman and a Latina, I represent a lot of communities, and I want to tell those communities that this isn't my star, this is our star."

Beyoncé

Beyoncé constantly reminds fans of her love of Houston, Texas, where she was born and raised, whether it is in her lyrics or music videos. For example, 2013's "No Angel" video is a tribute to the city of Houston, showcasing the city's streets, MacGregor Park, and several Houston-based rappers. Rapper Trae tha Truth, told MTV News, "It's a perfect representation of the town because you got the culture, you got the struggle, the pain, the look, the feel and depth of Houston. At the end of the day, she showed love." 

Let's remember that it was also in Houston where Destiny's Child was formed. In 1990, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett began the girl group, Girl's Tyme, until it was changed to Destiny's Child. Luckett and Roberson later left the group and were replaced by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, with Franklin leaving just a few months later, per MTV News. However, Beyoncé would become a bigger star as a solo act and released her first album, "Dangerously in Love" in 2003. Destiny's Child would break up in 2005, as noted by Biography

With tremendous success in the music business, it's fantastic that Queen B is still so passionate about her hometown. In an interview for Visit Houston in 2019, she shared, "Houston is where my stage presence and confidence was developed. I love Houston. Some of my best memories of my life took place there."

Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis may be known for his work in "The Hangover" trilogy and his series of videos titled "Between Two Ferns," where he's interviewed the likes of former President Barak Obama and Brad Pitt, but he's also an avid farmer. In an interview with New York Times Magazine, Galifianakis spoke about his upbringing in North Carolina, where he was born and raised, and how he's managed to return to his home state and live on a farm out in the country. He shared, "I'd spend all my time here, if I could. It would make my parents happy for one thing." The actor's even given it a name – Farmageddon, per GQ.

According to New York Times Magazine, Galifianakis attended North Carolina State University where he majored in Communications. However, his passion for acting made him move to New York City, and he made his television debut on "Boston Common" in 1996. He later starred in the 2003 drama series "Tru Calling" and gained immense fame portraying Alan in 2009's "The Hangover."

When he's not living the farmer's life in North Carolina, Esquire reported that Galifianakis has a home in Canada with his wife and children. 

Matthew McConaughey

Any fan of Matthew McConaughey would know that the actor prides himself in being born and raised in Texas. His biography notes that he was raised in Uvalde, Texas, attended Longview High School, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, earning a film degree in 1993. He's even returned to his alma mater to teach classes, creating a curriculum for students interested in film production. There's also a pretty good chance fans can find the "Dazed and Confused" star at a Texas Longhorn football game.

When asked by Southern Living how being a Texan has shaped McConaughey, he shared, "I don't think I've ever had the perfect answer for it. Steinbeck says it's a state of mind ... In Texas, there is certain honor of being a Texan that is a measure of doing something the best that you can. You have your name — McConaughey — or because you're a Travers, you know. You have your nation – because you're American. You have, if you're a believer, because of God. And in Texas, you have a fourth measure. It's because you're a Texan."

McConaughey is raising his children, which he shares with his wife Camila Alves, in Austin, Texas. Alves told Fox News, "It really embodies our belief system, especially the ones I grew up with, like going to church every Sunday, saying 'yes ma'am or no sir.'"

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari was born and raised in South Carolina to Indian parents and often uses that fact in his stand-up comedy acts, reenacting people's surprised reactions when he shares that he's just a boy from the South and not anywhere else. However, Ansari told The Guardian that growing up as the only Indian-American kid in his class was sometimes challenging. "It wasn't all peaches and cream, but, you know, kids are mean and they'll pick on differences. So if you're the only minority kid in an all-white school, that's a difference, but no one ever threw rocks at me or anything like that. Really, it was about as bad as being a fat kid," he shared.

Despite having faced some hurdles in his youth, Ansari moved to New York City for college and performed stand-up, where he found his true calling. In 2007, he created the successful sketch "Human Giant" and began finding roles in comedies like "I Love You, Man" and "Funny People." However, his big acting break came in 2009 when he landed the role of Tom Haverford in "Parks and Recreation." Fans of the show might even remember the episode titled "The Stakeout," in which his character had to answer questions posed by a naive Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) about his upbringing. 

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus may be rocking out with Metallica and covering some of music's best rock covers, but she's always been a country girl at heart. Cyrus was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee, just 30 minutes outside of Nashville. To add to that, her dad is '90s country star, Billy Ray Cyrus, while her godmother is country royalty, Dolly Parton. Can you get any more country than that? 

Cyrus has ventured into many genres throughout her career, but the songstress always returns to her Southern roots. In 2012, she recorded "The Backyard Sessions" on YouTube, which featured Cyrus singing Dolly Parton's "Jolene." During her Bangerz Tour in 2014, she performed Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue," to the surprise of many, and in 2017, she returned to a country pop sound with her record "Younger Now," which included a duet with Parton

Cyrus returned to her hometown of Franklin to purchase a stunning farmhouse for $5.8 million in 2017. However, she's since sold the estate for $14.5 million in 2022, per Dirt. In November 2022, Cyrus bought a Malibu home in the same area where she once lived with her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth.

Morgan Freeman

Although Freeman has long been a presence in the entertainment industry, dating back to his days on the '70s PBS series "The Electric Company," he didn't gain wide international recognition until several decades later. In fact, Freeman's rise to legend in Hollywood didn't arrive until he took on a number of starring roles in the late '80s. According to Variety, when Freeman landed a supporting role in 1987's "Street Smart," people began to notice his acting brilliance. 

As a result of the roles he chose during this time, Freeman was nominated for his first Oscar, and was later nominated for the coveted trophy again, but this time for lead actor for 1989's "Driving Miss Daisy." According to IMDb, Freeman has more than 140 acting credits to his name. He has portrayed Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, and even God. His fictional characters in films like "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Million Dollar Baby" have also been highly praised.

Freeman may be a prominent Hollywood actor, but he calls the South home. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Mississippi, the actor lives near Charleston, Mississippi. According to Garden & Gun, Freeman purchased land from his parents that his grandparents used to own and built his own home. In the city of Clarksdale, the actor owns a jazz club called Ground Zero and had previously owned a restaurant named Madidi, which has since closed its doors. Freeman told the Washington Post about his decision to live in Mississippi: "My glib answer was because I can live anywhere. But the true answer is that of any place I've ever been, this feels most like home. When I come home, when I hit Mississippi, everything is right."

Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr.'s passion for music began in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was born and raised. According to his website, Connick Jr. was playing the piano at the age of five with musical legends James Booker and Ellis Marsalis. At the age of 22, Connick Jr. won a Grammy Award for best jazz male vocal performance for his work in 1989's "When Harry Met Sally..." After gaining stardom, he subsequently set his sights on acting when he starred in movies like 1998's "Hope Floats" and 2007's "P.S. I Love You." 

Of course, his passion for music has reigned supreme, with Connick Jr. mainly in the jazz, traditional pop, and big-band scene. He's recorded over 30 albums as of this writing. His latest album, 2021's "Alone with My Faith," focused on his faith, and although it was recorded in his home in Connecticut, he returned to his New Orleans roots. He told USA Today's The American South (via The Tennessean), "Faith and religion were always present for me in New Orleans. I grew up with a father who was Catholic and we went to church. But there was always some connection in the city, whether you were on a street that said "Saint" in front of it, or the football team the Saints, or the idea of this cross-cultural way of communicating that spoke often of faith ... It gave me a great sense of comfort."