By Peter Suciu
Rami Malek won an Oscar for playing famed singer Freddy Mercury in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody and the actor took his performance quite seriously, so much so that he learned to sing and even move like the flamboyant late lead singer of the rock band Queen. Malek also famously won an Emmy award for his portrayal of a hacker/computer programmer in the USA TV series Mr. Robot, but he didn’t quite go all in. While he did learn to type so he looked like he could be a hacker, he didn’t, in fact, learn to code.
Some celebrities have taken it even further and could not only play a coder/programmer but could likely write some kick-ass code too!
Today, we celebrate those who not only know their way around a computer programming language but are using it in a positive way as well.
Coding off the court with Chris Bosh
The closest many professional athletes get to computer code is when their likeness appears in a video game, but Chris Bosh – who played professional basketball for the NBA championship-winning Miami Heat and even won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games – is a jock who could make those video games. Bosh explained in an article he wrote for Wired magazine how he grew up in a tech-savvy home, where he learned at a young age how the world spins on varying powers of 1s and 0s. He took his studies seriously when he attended Georgia Tech, remains an advocate for increased computer literacy in schools, and supports the non-profit code.org.
Musical codes with will.i.am
It isn’t surprising that many of today’s musicians/record producers know a thing or two about software – music shares a certain rhythm with coding, but William Adams is one who went from a curious onlooker to a serious developer. Better known by his stage name, will.i.am, the Grammy Award-winning frontman of the Black Eyed Peas is truly a multi-talented individual who is a rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, entrepreneur, and more recently coding teacher. His “i.am.angel Foundation” has also created i.am.STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), an elementary and middle school initiative to provide underserved students with learning and interaction opportunities beyond the classroom in collaboration with Discovery Education.
Model coder Karlie Kloss
The comedian coder Jimmy Fallon
Before he became a comedian and long before he was a regular on Saturday Night Live or hosted The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon was a computer science major who studied C++ and other coding languages at The College of Saint. He was actually just 15 credits shy of earning a computer science degree when he dropped out to focus on his comedy. He eventually returned and earned a degree, but in communications.
Family ties to C++ Justine Bateman
Her TV brother and her real brother are the types of guys who you might expect would be keyboard jockeys. Yet it is actually Emmy-nominated actress Justine Bateman, who played the underachieving Mallory on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, who has taken classes in Java, C++, and CS111. In her late 40s, with a keen interest in technology, she returned to UCLA to try something different. Her goal has been to work in a position or even create her own company that brings technology and entertainment together – that could include cutting-edge technology such as augmented reality (AR) and holographic delivery of content. Too bad she can’t get her TV brother Alex to invest!
Another model coder Lyndsey Scott
The CV for Lyndsey Scott is an interesting read: American model, actress, and software developer. She’s a groundbreaking pioneer in more ways than one. While she was the first African American model to sign an exclusive runway contract with Calvin Klein, she spends much of her time writing mobile apps for Apple’s iOS, and has been credited for challenging the existing stereotypes about models and computer programming. She started writing code at age 12, and that included writing simple games for her TI-89 graphing calculator, and at Amherst College, she learned Java and C++, while she also learned to write in Python, Objective C, and iOS. She told the BBC that she hopes her efforts can convince others to realize that programmers can come in all shapes, sizes, genders, races, (etc.).
Ashton Kutcher is more than playing coders
He played Steve Jobs in a movie, and on TV’s Two and a Half Men, he played a tech billionaire who sold his company to Microsoft. While Ashton Kutcher hasn’t revolutionized the tech world like Jobs (at least not yet) and hasn’t sold a billion-dollar piece of software to Microsoft (at least not yet), he learned to code even before taking on the role of Jobs and has since invested in tech companies such as Airbnb, Spotify, and Uber. His first foray into software came when he studied biochemical engineering before he broke into acting. More recently he’s been a supporter of the non-profit code.org and with ex-wife Demi Moore founded Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, a non-profit that works with technology partners to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.
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