Celina Jane Atangana was born in Chicago, IL to Evelyn Smith-Atangana and Alain Atangana. Her mother Evelyn was born and raised in Nigeria and her father Alain was born in Cameroon then moved to France in his early teens. Celina is the first person in her family to be born in the United States and takes great pride in her African heritage. It has been Celina's dream to be an actor since she was 5 or 6 years old. Her family has always supported her dreams and she started taking acting classes when she was 12. In high school she was on the speech team from her sophomore through senior year. She competed in the dramatic interpretation and duet dramatic interpretation events; in addition to competing in the performance in the round event during her senior year. She briefly attended Columbia College Chicago as an acting major for a year before taking a semester off school and eventually transferring to the New York Film Academy (NYFA). She attended NYFA for 2 semesters.