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The 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' actress was inspired by her parents' work ethic
Aubrey Plaza has charted her own path to success — just like her parents.
The White Lotus star didn’t grow up in a Hollywood milieu; she was born in 1984 in Wilmington, Delaware, to mom Bernadette and dad David Plaza. The oldest of three sisters, she grew up watching her parents “hustle” to make ends meet and saw how their hard work paid off.
“We started out with nothing, but my parents worked really, really hard, and we kind of moved up,” she told The Guardian in 2012, adding that her mom became a lawyer, and her dad works as a financial advisor.
Their dedication inspired a similar work ethic in the actress, who landed not one but three simultaneous big breaks at age 24 when she booked Funny People, Parks and Recreation and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, all in the same week in 2008.
So who are Aubrey Plaza's parents? Here's everything to know about Bernadette and David Plaza and their relationship with the Ingrid Goes West producer.
They raised Aubrey in Wilmington, Delaware
Aubrey was born on June 26, 1984, in Wilmington, Delaware, to Bernadette and David Plaza. The actress’s parents were 20 years old at the time, and she referred to herself as “a big accident” in an interview with The Guardian in 2012. They later welcomed two more daughters, Natalie and Renee.
While little is known about the timeline of their relationship, they remained together throughout Aubrey’s childhood, welcoming youngest daughter Renee in 1996, when Aubrey was 12 years old. Bernadette and David went their separate ways at some point and he has since remarried.
Although she doesn't often discuss her parents or childhood publicly, the comedian used her typical deadpan humor to poke fun at peoples’ assumptions about her upbringing when hosting Saturday Night Live in January 2023.
“People just think that I’m weird because of the characters that I play, but I’m a normal person. I had a normal childhood with normal parents — in fact, they’re both here tonight,” she said, before the camera cut to a large pincushion doll and a statue.
They have two other daughters
While Aubrey has kept her parents largely out of the spotlight, she shares freely on social media about her two younger sisters, Natalie and Renee.
Natalie was born seven years after her, on July 14, 1991, while Renee arrived on Sept. 2, 1996. The three often share hilarious birthday tributes to one another on Instagram and post photos of themselves out at concerts or relaxing at home together.
The trio shared sweet snaps from Natalie’s wedding in June 2023, which took place at San Francisco City Hall. In one Instagram picture, the three posed in sunglasses while sitting on the steps outside. Other photos from the special occasion show that both of their parents were in attendance.
Bernadette first introduced her to comedy
Fans of the Spin Me Round actress can thank her mom for introducing her to comedy as a child — specifically, for showing her Saturday Night Live.
The sketch comedy show made a strong and lasting mark on Aubrey, who became “really obsessed with comedy and improv,” she told The Guardian, adding, "I wanted to be on that show for as long as I could remember."
She quickly set her sights on landing a role there, researching how she could best position herself to apply. "Just by looking at people's biographies online, I saw that a lot of them did sketch comedy. And I decided that's what I was going to do," Aubrey explained.
In high school, she began taking improv classes at a school in nearby Philadelphia. She went on to work as an NBC page during college in 2004 and intern at SNL in 2005, eventually landing an audition in 2008 — which she didn’t get.
Her parents come from humble beginnings
Aubrey’s parents passed down their strong work ethic to their daughter, who watched them strive to achieve financial security when she was growing up.
“My parents came from nothing. They were hustlers, so I think I have that in my blood because I grew up watching them hustle,” she said on The Drew Barrymore Show in 2023. “My mom went to night school and became a lawyer. They both worked at Wawa, I think, at one time together. My mom was the manager.”
Her mom is a lawyer and her dad is a financial advisor
While they briefly overlapped at the local Wawa grocery store, Bernadette and David have pursued separate career paths. According to a bio page, she earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware and later graduated from Widener University School of Law.
After receiving her law degree, she served as a deputy attorney general for the state of Delaware and now practices with Goldfein & Joseph. Her practice focuses on “toxic tort, product liability, workers' compensation and insurance defense claims,” per the law firm.
David received a degree in finance and marketing from Drexel University before working as a senior financial advisor for Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. in the late 1980s. Since 1989, he’s risen in the ranks at Merrill Lynch, where he currently acts as a managing director and wealth management advisor in Wilmington, according to his LinkedIn.
Aubrey’s dad is of Puerto Rican descent
Aubrey proudly discussed her DNA ancestry results during a 2023 interview with Wired, revealing that she is 30 percent Irish on her mom’s side and 34 percent Iberian on her dad’s side.
Growing up in Wilmington, the producer told Latina magazine that there wasn’t much diversity in her school, and she sometimes felt disconnected from her heritage.
“I was winning the diversity awards and people were always calling b------- on me,” Aubrey said in 2014, according to the Huffington Post. “I won the Hispanic teenager of the year and I felt terrible. I always felt like I didn’t deserve to win because I was really half [Latino].”
In a 2013 cover interview with Cosmopolitan, she opened up about her relationship with her family and her identity. “A lot of people don’t assume I’m Puerto Rican because I’m fair skinned,” she told the outlet. “But I feel very connected to that side of my family."
Five years later, Aubrey and her dad attended the National Hispanic Media Coalition's Impact Awards in Beverly Hills. The duo posed for photos on the red carpet and her proud father was on hand to watch her be honored with the award for outstanding performance in a motion picture for Ingrid Goes West.
Her mom doesn’t like to be photographed
According to Natalie, the Plaza matriarch doesn't enjoy having her picture taken. “My mom hates photos!” she wrote on Instagram alongside several shots of Bernadette in honor of Mother’s Day in 2020.
The photos also showed her cutting onions with ski goggles, having lunch with her daughters and visiting Universal Studios. Natalie added that some pictures dated back to 2014 and that “the hunt for another good pic still continues.”
Aubrey made her own tribute to her mom to mark Mother’s Day in 2017, sharing a throwback shot of Bernadette looking off to the side and revealing that she inherited her trademark deadpan stare from her mom.
“🖤 happy happy day to my mother who taught me the death stare 🖤,” she wrote.
David remarried in 2017
On June 17, 2017, David tied the knot with his girlfriend, Mihaela Ghetau. He popped the question after nearly three years of dating, and the couple waited another two years before saying “I do” at The Union League of Philadelphia — with all three of his daughters on hand for the big day, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
Bucking tradition, the Plaza sisters wore custom-made tuxedos for the occasion, acting as "grooms women."
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