Famous TCKs: Third-Culture Kids in the News and in History

What’s a TCK? Read here.

A much more complete list than mine can be found here (thanks, Sezin!).

Barack Obama: The world’s most famous TCK right now, and maybe that’s a good sign (perhaps it’s fortunate that few American voters recognized the term).

Other Famous TCKs

Santiago Cabreraactor, Hero

Julie Christie, actress – “Julie’s father ran a tea plantation in India, where she grew up.”

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author – born in Kenya

Elizabeth Edwards – late wife of John Edwards, US vice-presidential candidate – “Edwards is the daughter of a Navy pilot and lived in a dozen places by the time she was 18. ‘There is no better experience’ in preparing someone for the madness of a presidential campaign, she says.” New York Times, July 17, 2004. She wrote: Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers

Scott Foley, actor – “Foley relocated often during his childhood due to his father’s career in international banking. He lived all over the world, including Sydney, Australia, and Tokyo, Japan.”

Michel Gondry – film director

Katharine Gun, whistle-blower:

“Her decision to follow her conscience sounds almost unthinking – I didn’t want to step back and think, ‘But, hey, what happens if I do this, and then this happens and then that happens?'” she says. But she has clearly thought in detail about what made her that way… “One of the things the research says is that third-culture kids tend to be extremely empathetic, and because they’ve usually lived in at least one other foreign country, they somehow feel a global alliance… ” Guardian

Mohsin Hamid, novelist:

“So where does Hamid belong? Does he feel a Pakistani Muslim, or an American?

“I’m fully neither,” he said, adding that he believed it was unwarranted to expect individuals to sign up for allegiance to the nation-state.

“What I feel like depends on the context you put me in,” he said. “In the Pakistani context, my attitudes toward religion, to the state, to gender relations are perceptibly American. That makes me American.” Yet when he is in the United States, he can feel quite Pakistani, he said.” International Herald Tribune

Teresa Heinz – John Kerry’s wife, born in Mozambique.

John Kerry, US politician – Attended boarding school in Switzerland while his father was a US diplomat in Germany.

Robin McKinley, author

Viggo Mortensen, actor: “I remember coming to the U.S. and not only having to learn the accent but the slang,” Mortensen says, adding that being forced to adapt quickly helped him later on. “Out of habit you assume that you have something in common with people no matter how different they seem.” Washington Post

Mervyn Peake, author and illustrator

John Rhys-Davies, actor – “Rhys-Davies spent his formative years in Wales and East Africa, returning to the UK when he was nine.”

Alexander McCall Smith – novelist – his books

Cordwainer Smith – A science fiction writer who spent many of his formative years in China and was bilingual in Chinese and English. I suspect that this is the reason for the unusual, even poetic, style of his writing. Cordwainer Smith’s books

W. Richard Stevens, UNIX guru

Kathleen Turner, actor – diplomatic “brat”

Dominique de Villepin, former Prime Minister of France

Mike Volpi, CEO of Joost

Joss Whedon, screenwriter and creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – partly schooled in the UK

Hugo Weaving, actor – born in Nigeria, has lived in Australia, South Africa, England.

let me know of any other famous TCKs you are aware of!

9 thoughts on “Famous TCKs: Third-Culture Kids in the News and in History

  1. Richard Davies

    Here’s a few others I can think of:

    Vivien Leigh, Joanna Lumley, Cliff Richard – All born in India

    Jackson Browne, John McEnroe – Born in Germany to forces parents.

    Rudolf Hess – Born in Egypt

  2. Deirdre Straughan Post author

    Vivien Leigh? Cool, never knew that. And I have a friend who will be thrilled to know, if she didn’t already, that Cliff Richard was born in India.

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  4. Richard Davies

    Sorry to reply later than expected, but have thought of some more worth mentioning.

    Gillian Anderson lived in the UK for some of her early childhood. When her family moved back to America her classmates made fun of her accent, but she has used it to her advantage, see the BBC adaptation of Bleak House for example.

    Nicole Kidman was born in Hawaii, not sure how long she lived there before moving to Australia.

    Mel Gibson lived in New York state before his family resettled in Australia.

    Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson was born in Hampstead, North London & lived in Stoke On Trent before moving to Los Angeles at the age of 11.

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