North Jersey is home to numerous actors, singers, artists, and athletes from a variety of different backgrounds and communities. And several of these individuals who have called North Jersey home have Ukrainian roots. For a while, Irvington was home to a notable Ukrainian community, but nearly all have moved out. There are still seeds of the community present here as Irvington’s Ukrainian Community Center is a cultural hub for those in Essex and Union County. Now, many Ukrainian Americans called Union, Springfield, Clifton, Whippany, and Fair Lawn home. Read on for a guide to Ukrainian Americans with roots in North Jersey.
(Photo credit: @danikayarosh)
The actress Danika Yarosh was born in Morristown, and raised in Somerset County’s Bedminster. Danika was a competitive dancer and figure skater in her youth. Danika is known for her role in Greenhouse Academy, Heroes Reborn, and Shameless. Her paternal grandfather William Yarosh was born in Ukraine and her maternal grandmother Irene Rempter’s family was born in Kostopil, Ukraine.
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Evanka Osmak is a sports anchor for Canada’s Rogers Sportsnet. Evanka was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but raised in Ontario, Canada. She is a graduate of Queen’s University.
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Podcaster and composer George Hrab was born in Belleville, New Jersey, and grew up speaking Ukrainian. He graduated from Montclair Kimberley Academy in 1989. George has performed several genres of music and performed with multiple bands.
Known for his role as Leo McGarry on The West Wing and as Tommy Mullany on L.A. Law, John Spencer was born in The Big Apple, but raised across the river in Totowa, New Jersey. His mother Mildred Benzeroski was of Ukrainian descent. John passed away in 2005 and is buried at Laurel Grove Memorial Park in Totowa.
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Figure skater Matej Silecky spent their childhood in Verona, New Jersey, and Kyiv, Ukraine. Matej began skating at just 6 years old and has competed in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships several times. Matej created a production company called Kitsune Tale Productions, creating a documentary called Baba Babee Skazala (Grandmother Told Grandmother). In 2022, Matej starred in the independent feature film Goodbye, Petrushka.
Actor Nick Adams was born Nicholas Aloysius Adamshock in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. His parents were of Ukrainian descent and his maternal grandparents were born in Ukraine. At five years old, Nick and his family headed east, winding up in Jersey City. He graduated from Henry Snyder High School. Nick starred in The Rebel, Fever Heat, The Hook, Giant, and Picnic. He passed away in 1968 in Beverly Hills, California, and was buried at Saints Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Berwick, Pennsylvania.
^ Nina is the second person in from the left (Photo credit: @nicolekidman)
Notable for her role as Vivian Vance in Being the Ricardos, the screen star Nina Arianda has roots in North Jersey. Born Nina Arianda Matijcio in Manhattan, Nina spent her childhood between Heidelberg, Germany, and Clifton, New Jersey. She has also starred in Richard Jewell, Tower Heist, and Goliath.
(Photo credit: @verafarmiga)
You may have seen the dazzling Vera Farmiga in Hawkeye, Bates Motel, The Conjuring, and Orphan, but did you know she’s from New Jersey? Her 2021 portrayal of Livia Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark hit pretty close to home. Like her character, Vera has roots right here in Essex County. While she was born in Clifton, she grew up in a Ukrainian community in Irvington and was a student at Newark’s Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic School. At age 12, Vera and her family moved to Hunterdon County, living in Whitehouse Station. Her younger sister Taissa, known for her role in American Horror Story, was born here.