Atlanta's Famous Residents

Atlanta has served as an influential city in America for decades. Here are some of the most famous leaders, athletes, politicians and performers who were born in Atlanta.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil rights leader, born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929. Dr. King gave one of the most famous speeches in history when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 during the March on Washington. In 1964, King became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights work. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee at the early age of 39. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1994. In 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a federal holiday.


Julia Roberts

Born in Atlanta in 1967, Julia Roberts is an American award winning actress who has starred in several major Hollywood films including Pretty Woman, Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias, The Pelican Brief, Hook, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, as well as Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve. In 2001, Roberts won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Erin Brockovich. Her movies have brought in an estimated $2.5 billion making her arguably the most successful actress of all time. She has been named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” 11 times.


Kanye West

Kanye West was born in 1977 in Atlanta, and moved to Chicago with his mother at the age of 3. Before becoming known in his own right, West produced singles and albums for Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Ludacris, Mobb Deep, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Janet Jackson and fellow Atlantian Monica, amongst many others. West’s first album The College Dropout was released in 2004 to universal critical acclaim, thanks to the singles “Through the Wire” and “All Falls Down”. Subsequent albums including Late Registration, Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy have received equal praise. Enjoying both critical and commercial success, with a host of award nominations and wins, West has become one of the most renowned musical acts in recent memory.


Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight was born in Atlanta in 1944. In 1966, the music group Gladys Knight & the Pips joined Motown Records, starting off as the opening act for Diana Ross and The Supremes. They enjoyed a number of hit singles such as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Midnight Train to Georgia”. Later on, Gladys Knight & the Pips were inducted into both the Goergia Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Knight also enjoyed a successful solo career, with records such as “That’s What Friends Are For”, recorded with Dionne Warwick, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.



Steven Soderbergh

The acclaimed producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor and director was born in Atlanta in 1963. His films include Sex, Lies, and Videotape, for which he won the Palm d’Or at Cannes and Out of Sight. In 2000, Soderbergh became the first director in 60 years to be nominated in the same year for two different films (Erin Brockovich and Traffic) by the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and Director’s Guild of America. Soderbergh went on to win the Academy Award for Best Director for Traffic. He then followed up this success with the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, directing all three films.


Kelly Rowland

One of the founding members of Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland was born in Atlanta in 1981. Between 1997 until 2006, Destiny’s Child released four albums and enjoyed four US #1 singles, selling almost 18 million albums in the U.S. alone. Rowland then achieved solo success with “Dilemma” featuring Nelly, and collaborations with David Guetta “When Love Takes Over”, (both of which reached #1) and “Commander”. Continuing her music career, Rowland has dince delved into television and film, and will be on the judging panel of the British reality TV competition, The X Factor.