From Obama to Uma: Famous Third Culture Kids

Famous Third Culture Kids (TCKs)

American Sociologist, David Pollock, is a pioneer in the Third Culture Kid (TCK) movement.  In his book “Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds,” he elaborates, “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

It’s surprising how many of us there are in the world.  Even more surprising is how many have become famous…  Here’s a short list:

1. Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States is a TCK. He grew up in a family where his mother was American and his father was African. Obama’s mother divorced his Kenyan father, and remarried an Indonesian man, and they lived in Jakarta, Indonesia for a while. Obama returned to live with his maternal grandparents when he was in grade five. Overall Obama has three different backgrounds the United States, Indonesia and Kenya, and this is why Barack Obama is one of the most famous TCKs.


2. Kim Jong Un

Famous TCK Kim Jung Un

Surprise everyone! Did you know that Kim Jung Un is also a TCK? It’s been told that Kim has been educated at an International School of Bern, Switzerland until he was 15 years old.




3. Uma Thurman


Hollywood actress Uma Thurman, best known for her acting career in movies like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but until nine years old she grew up in the Himalayan town of Almora Uttarakhan, India. Her father was a Buddhist writer and named her after a Hindu goddess “Uma,” which also means light.





4. Kobe Bryant

Famous TCK Kobe Bryant

Five time NBA Champion, Kobe Bryant grew up in Reiti, Italy until age 14 and there Bryant learned  the fundamentals of basketball. Bryant also gets his incredible athleticism from his father Joe Bryant, a former basketball player and a former coach.


5. Freddie Mercury

Famous TCK Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury, the legendary lead vocalist of British rock band Queen was born in Zanizibar, Tanzania to Indian Parsi parents. Mercury was sent off to Bombay, India when he was ten years old and moved to England at the age of 17.  According to Queen Band member Roger Taylor, Mercury hid his identity as an Indian, and thinkthat it was because Mercury felt that people would not relate being Indian with rock and roll.

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  1. So cool to see all the TCKs out there that we would have never known! 

  2. I love reading more about how so many people in the world (especially well known figures) are all TCKs! I honestly think every day I learn about another person that is considered a TCK!

  3. This is very cool. I love learning more about famous TCKs and seeing how they’ve grown up and may have dealt with culture shock.

  4. Won, this is an awesome article for many reasons and one of them being you made it possible for people to relate with celebrities just through the experiences that they share. You even included one of my favorites, Uma Thurman!

  5. I am a huge Queen fan, and I had no idea that Freddy Mercury was a TCK! I think that TCK people love this article so much because it feels awesome to know that they share something with some of the world’s best known celebrities.

  6. Before the Presidential elections, I had no idea that Obama was a TCK. It is interesting to see how public figures can relate to this lifestyle.

  7. Great article. This article has left me speechless i wold of never known the Kobe and Kim jong Un were a TCK.

  8. There’s so many of us! This is incredible, the globally minded are the citizens of the future!

  9. Since discovering the meaning of TCK just last year, I love finding out about where people come from and the different cultures they got to experience. It’s also fascinating to know that there are so many famous TCK’s around the world as well!

  10. Had no idea about Uma Thurmann and Freddie Mercury!! So sad that he hid his Indian heritage!! With a voice like that who cares where you’re from!!??

  11. It doesn’t matter how many TCK articles are on this website, people seem to always find interest in famous people who represent the definition of TCK.  Great article though, and information I have not seen in other articles that are similar to this one.

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