Feature

Cameron Diaz’s scrappy upbringing

The 37-year-old actress was raised in a tough neighborhood in Long Beach, California. She learned early on how to hold her own.

Cameron Diaz is no pushover, said Stephen Rebello in Playboy. The 37-year-old actress was raised in a tough neighborhood in Long Beach, Calif., where she learned early on how to hold her own. “You moved out of the way fast if a girl pulled back her hair, took off her earrings and necklaces, and then put on all her girlfriends’ rings like brass knuckles,” she recalls. She was often picked on by the other kids, who called her “Skeletor” because she was so thin. There was also the matter of her being fair-skinned with a Spanish name; her father was Cuban, her mother of English, German, and Cherokee descent.

“Where I grew up, all the Diazes had brown hair, brown skin, and brown eyes, so there was a bit of, ‘You’re not a Latina.’” She credits her father, an oil rigger, with toughening her up. “He was a total scrapper,” she says. “One of the first things I remember him doing was teaching me how to fight.” Though she had her share of run-ins, eventually she “learned the skill of not having to get into those situations.” That’s a talent that comes in handy in Hollywood. “I always know to trust my street sensibilities.”

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