Notable Albanian-Americans

Most people don’t realize just how many Albanian-Americans who have influenced the acting, business, political world there are. This page will be dedicated to them, hoping that maybe someday they’ll find the site and perhaps comment on it :). Enjoy! 


Maria Cristina Gjomarkaj Verger is the granddaughter of Gjon Marka Gjoni, Kapidan of Mirdita. She runs one of New York’s most prestigious event planning companies, Cristina Verger Event Planning & Production.

“When you find what you want to do, you will be a star.” Those were the words that Verger’s boss told her when she was gaining experience and preparing for a bright and successful future in the hospitality and event planning industry. She took those words to heart and ran with them, eventually founding one of the best and most prestigious event planning companies in New York City. She was featured as Albanian American Success Story.


 John Belushi  Jim Belushi

The first celebrity that comes to mind for me (and this does age me), was John Belushi, the beloved comedian that passed away in 1982. I used to love watching him on Saturday Night Live. He was also very entertaining in Animal House and Blues Brothers. He surely has been missed. John’s younger brother, Jim, is also a famous entertainer and currently stars in the TV series “The Defenders. Jim Belushi was born in Chicago. He is the son of Agnes (née Samaras), who was of Albanian descent, and Adam Belushi (1918–1996) an Albanian immigrant and restaurant operator who left his native village, Qytezë, in 1934 at the age of sixteen. He was raised in a Chicago suburb, along with his three siblings: older brother John, his sister, Marian, and a younger brother, Billy. After graduating from Wheaton Central High School, James Belushi attended the College of DuPage and graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a degree in Speech and Theater Arts.Belushi is closely linked to his Albanian heritage and recently received the Albanian honorary citizenship by the President of Albania, Bamir Topi.


Kara DioGuardi

Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi, born December 9, 1970, is an American, record producer, music publisher and TV personality. She writes music primarily in the light pop-rock, dance, and genres. DioGuardi has worked with many popular artists; her songs have appeared on more than 159 million albums worldwide. DioGuardi served as a judge on American Idol for its eighth and ninth seasons. DioGuardi was born in Ossining, New York. She is of Arbëresh (Albanian) and Italian descent and was raised Roman Catholic. Her father is former Republican Congressman and 2010 US Senate candidate Joseph J. DioGuardi. She is a 7th cousin, once removed of the beloved veteran TV personality Regis Philbin.


  Regis Philbin

Regis Francis Xavier Philbin, born August 25, 1931, is an American media personality, actor and singer, known for hosting talk and game shows from the 1960s to the present. Philbin was born in 1931. His father, Francis “Frank” Philbin, a U.S. Marine who served in the Pacific, was of Irish heritage. His mother, Filomena “Florence” (née Boscia), was of Arbëreshë (Albanian) heritage. They lived at 1990 Cruger Avenue in the Va Nest section of The Bronx. Philbin was raised Roman Catholic. Philbin has been married twice and has four children. He was married to Catherine “Kay” Faylen, daughter of actor Frank Faylen, from 1955–1968, and he has been married to interior decorator Joy Senese since 1970. His children are Amy, Daniel (both with Faylen), Joanna, and Jennifer “J. J.” (both with Senese).


Tony Dovolani

Driton “Tony” Dovolani (born July 17, 1973) is an Albanian American professional ballroom dancer, instructor and judge based in New York City. He is known for his involvement in the American version of Dancing with the Stars on ABC. Dovolani also portrayed a Latin bad boy in the hit film Shall We Dance? and spent time coaching actress Jennifer Lopez. When not dancing, he enjoys spending time at home with his wife, daughters and son. Dovolani was born in the city of Debar in the former Yugoslavia, but was sent to Kosovo as a young boy. He reportedly began folk dancing at the age of three. At the age of 15, his entire family moved to the United States. He got the opportunity to attend classes at a Fred Astaire Dance Academy. Tony is married to wife Lina, and the couple have a four-year-old daughter named Luana. Twins, son Adrian and daughter Ariana were born on September 8, 2008. Tony was in the middle of rehearsals for the season of Dancing with the Stars with partner Susan Lucci when he got the call that Lina had gone into labor.


Eliza Dushku

Eliza Patricia Dushku,born December 30, 1980, is an American actress known for her television roles, including recurring appearances as Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff series Angel. She starred in two Fox series, Tru Calling and Dollhouse. She is also known for her role in films including True Lies, The New Guy, Bring It On, Wrong Turn and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Dushku was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, the daughter of Philip R. Dushku, an administrator and teacher in the Boston Public Schools, and Judith “Judy” (née Rasmussen), a political science professor. Dushku’s father is Albanian and her mother is of Danish and English descent. Dushku attended Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, and graduated from Watertown High School. She was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the faith of her mother, though she is not practicing. She has three older brothers: Aaron, Benjamin (Ben), and Nathaniel (Nate). Her parents divorced when she was an infant


Masiela Lusha

Masiela Lusha, born October 23, 1985, is an American author, actress and humanitarian who first gained recognition in 2002 after starring in film and TV projects such as ABC’s George Lopez and Sony Picture’s Blood: The Last Vampire. As an author, Lusha has translated poems and prayers by Mother Theresa, and has written several books in various languages. Lusha spent her childhood chiefly in Albania, Hungary and Austria. She studied ballet in Vienna, and then moved to Michigan in 1993, where she continued to train in various forms of dance. She rose to fame when she co-starred as the passionate and rebellious character, Carmen Lopez, for five years, on the syndicated Warner Brothers series, George Lopez. She then appeared in movies such as Muertas, Katie Malone, Ballad of Broken Angels, Summoning, A Father’s Love, Time of the Comet, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, Blood: The Last Vampire. In recognition of her work, Lusha has been awarded two consecutive Young Artist Awards for Leading Young Actress in a Comedy and Drama. In 2007, Lusha founded a production company, Illuminary Pictures, and has since produced two films with the company.

As an author, Lusha is also considered to be the youngest author in the world to publish a book in two languages. She is also recognized as one of the Top Ten Talented Poets of North America for her published work Lusha has since written four books of poetry, Inner Thoughts, Drinking the Moon, Amore Celeste, The Call, a novel The Besa, and two children’s books, Boopity Boop! Goes To Hawaii, and Boopity Boop! Writes Her First Poem, which was released in 2010. Lusha has also written and translated poetry in English, Albanian and German. Lusha’s personal experiences in various countries inspires her passion for humanitarian work. Most notably, in 2006, Lusha founded the nonprofit, Children of the World Foundation, which shelters, educates and promotes healthy communication between family members. She donated 10 acres of land so the charity could build its first community center in Southern California.


Stan Dragoti

Stan Dragoti (born October 4, 1932 in New York, New York) is an Albanian American film director, whose work includes the comedies Mr. Mom and Love at First Bite. Dragoti was born in New York city to Albanian parents, both having emigrated in the 1920’s from the county of Tepelena, in Southern Albania. His interest in cinematography led him to Cooper College in New York and later to the Visual Arts College. He has also produced ads for the air travel and automobile industry.



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