Hollywood Now: Hell’s Kitchen Contestant’s Strong Bi-racial, Jewish Identity; Plus News from Seth Meyers & Paul Giamatti

By Gerri Miller

January 11, 2016

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Seth Meyers & Alexi Ashe
Seth Meyers & Alexi Ashe. Credit: David Shankbone/flickr

Meyers Enters Dad Territory

Talk show host Seth Meyers, who was raised Christian, and his Jewish wife, lawyer Alexi Ashe, are expecting their first child. Meyers, who has a Jewish grandfather on his father’s side, married Ashe in a Jewish ceremony in September 2013.

 

Giamatti on Billions

Paul Giamatti, who stars in Showtime’s series Billions as a dogged U.S. Attorney determined to take down a hedge fund titan (Damian Lewis) for insider trading, has been in an interfaith marriage since 1997. His wife, Elizabeth Cohen, is Jewish, and they’re raising their son Samuel, born in 2001, in her faith. Giamatti, however, describes himself as an atheist.

Paul Giamatti
Paul Giamatti. Credit: Jeff Neumann/Showtime

Malone Braves Ramsey’s Wrath

Ariel Malone
Ariel Malone. Credit: Fox

One of the culinary contestants braving the trial by fire (and the wrath of chef Gordon Ramsey) in the 15th season of Hell’s Kitchen is Ariel Malone, who announces in the January 15 premiere that she is bi-racial and Jewish. Her parents—she’s Jewish on her mother’s side—met at Drew University and later split.

“Growing up with divorced parents, being bi-racial and Jewish was interesting to say the least. Difficult is definitely an understatement,” Malone says. “I was raised, for the most part, in a town where my school had maybe five black children in the district and one Jew—at least practicing and not ashamed–me. Both of my parents raised me to take pride in both my black racial heritage and my Jewish roots so I always stood up for myself in both regards. I encountered the most opposition from my skin color since being Jewish isn’t something you can see on the surface, but I never really took much offense. The upside is that I always had an awesome skin tone year round!”

Looking for a career change, the Hackensack, New Jersey, native was working at a country club when she applied for Hell’s Kitchen. “I felt like I needed to step out of my comfort zone and take a chance. I decided to apply because I had nothing to lose, no matter the outcome,” says Malone. She’d seen the show “and thought it was about some crazy man yelling at a bunch of people.” She now thinks that Ramsay is “not as mean as people think. We were put in a very competitive environment, and the difficulty was staying focused and keeping my head in the game at all times. I brought all of my life experiences to Hell’s Kitchen, but being true to myself and hard work is what gave me the competitive advantage.”

When it comes to relationships—interfaith and otherwise—she believes love and understanding is the key to making them work: “I am currently dating someone and the only factor in that relationship is love.” She doesn’t have children yet, but feels that it’s “not particularly important to me to raise my kids in any particular faith, but I am very fond of many Jewish traditions. I love the story of Passover, the celebration of Hanukkah, the Purim story as well as fasting on Yom Kippur,” she says. “It is important to me to take a day and remind ourselves to live the best, most honest and loving life we can. For myself as a chef, the celebration of Sukkot is my favorite! Any chance to celebrate the gifts of the earth with family, friends and strangers is beautiful and what makes this life worth living!”
 





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About Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller writes and reports from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for The Jewish Journal, FromtheGrapevine.com, Brain World, HeathCentral.com, and others. A New York native, she spent a summer working at Kibbutz Giv'at Brenner in Israel and attends High Holy Day services at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood every year.