The BVI has long attracted celebrities looking for a quiet destination to be (relatively) anonymous. I remember the time Beyonce showed up at a glow party on Moskito Island; she danced away in the middle of the pack, just like she probably did before her stardom. And I think we’re all pretty familiar with the famous picture of Kate Winslet with Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island Great House smoldering in the background. Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney are just a few celebrities that have scathed the radar so far this season. These are celebs that we would add to the long BVI guest list; but then there are the ones that grew into fame here, or came and decided never to leave. Here’s a list of our top 5 notable BVI celebrities.
[For a list of notable BVI historic figures, click HERE]
Born in Carrot Bay on Tortola, Keidran Jones, who goes by the stage name “Iyaz,” is a singer-songwriter and dancer. Growing up, he was a part of his neighbourhood rap group CB4Lyfe before doing solo gigs and eventually landing on Oprah’s talkshow. He was first discovered by Sean Kingston and was signed by the record label Beluga Heights Records. He often comes home to visit family and told me that he still considers the BVI his home base.
Probably the most famous resident-billionaire in the BVI, Sir Richard pays homage to the territory with his Virgin Group enterprise name, comprised of more than 400 companies. He owns Moskito and Necker islands in the North Sound off Virgin Gorda, and is often seen with a wide smile and a boat full of babes cruising around the islands.
Tortola-born Melanie Amaro won the hearts of viewers of the first season of The X Factor, when she won $5 million and a recording contract with Syco Music and Epic Records. She gave a teary-eyed speech when she accepted the award, thanking her BVIslander grandmother Catherine and acknowledging her island roots.
The famed actor, avid sailor and longtime BVI resident told Welcome magazine that he remembers well Virgin Gorda’s past. “When I first got to Virgin Gorda it was very rustic; old school with goats and cows on the street,” he said. Freeman has made an appearance through the years as a Rotary Club participant and regular at popular locales such as VG’s Bath and Turtle restaurant. And although he isn’t a permanent resident here, it’s rumoured his epic voice whispers to sailors as they travel into the North Sound–only if they’re listening closely enough.
The computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur is the cofounder of Google and the rumoured owner of Eustatia Island, which is the northern most island of the North Sound. Worth more than $20 billion, Forbes ranks him as the 13th wealthiest man in the world. He might be less extravagant and visible than Sir Richard, but the self-made billionaire definitely has one of the most notable homeowner names in the BVI.