With advancements in modern technology, we can now have our DNA traced back hundreds of years with just a couple swabs of the cheek. As you know, the MN editorial staff is currently awaiting results of the DNA testing, so we decided to shout out these celebrities who went on a hunt to find out where their lineage lies. Here are 15 celebs who traced their DNA roots.
1. Oprah Winfrey
In 2006 talk show maven Oprah Winfrey became the biggest celebrity to have her DNA analyzed. Appearing on the PBS documentary African American Lives, Winfrey’s genetic make up revealed a predominance of sub-Saharan African DNA. The Chicago transplant’s ancestors are the Kpelle people, a West African group that reside in the highlands of what is now known as Liberia and Guinea. “When it happened to me, it was absolutely empowering to know the journey of my entire family,” she said of the experience of finding out where her roots lie.
2. Sheryl Lee Ralph
Actress/singer Sheryl Lee Ralph was born in Connecticut and raised in New York. Her mother is from Jamaica but the Tony-winning actress realized her family roots extend well past the Caribbean and stretch all the way to Africa. After having her DNA analyzed, Ralph, who was one of the original Dreamgirls, discovered her ancestors are from the Tikar tribe in Cameroon. “Discovering my African roots was – hands down – the most transformative event in my life,” Ralph has said of the experience. She recently traveled to Cameroon with her husband, Senator Vincent Hughes, as part of an ancestry re-connection program.
3. Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams got his start in the movie business after he was discovered by rapper/actor Tupac Shakur and was cast to play his little brother in the movie Bullet. Williams was born and raised in Brooklyn, his father is from down south and his mother hails from the Bahamas, but for years he was encouraged by his friend and fellow actor Isaiah Washington to find out where his family roots really lie. After having his DNA analyzed, the “Boardwalk Empire” star found out his ancestors are from the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone, just like Washington.
4. Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams was born and raised in California and got her start on Nickelodeon’s “Just For Laughs” in 2006. Since signing up as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” she has relocated to New York City. After having her DNA analyzed, the 24-year-old found out her roots travel much farther than that. Williams’ can trace her family lineage all the way back to the Bamileke tribe of Cameroon.
5. Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams made history by becoming the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America, but the “Ugly Betty” star has always been defensive about her light skin and blue eyes so a few years back she decided to have her family history and DNA traced. Appearing on NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are,” Williams found out her family hails from Tennessee and after having her DNA analyzed, the single mother of four was surprised to find out her genetic make up includes 13% Finnish and 11% southern European.
Source: Real Simple