15 Black Celebrities Who Traced Their DNA Roots

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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 with Ancestry.com, 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. Isaiah Washington

Actor Isaiah Washington had his DNA traced and in doing so, has found a new purpose in life. Back in 2005, he had his DNA analyzed and found out his ancestors hailed from the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone. Traveling back to his homeland, the former “Grey’s Anatomy” star has made it his mission in life to help his people by founding the Gondobay Mango Foundation (his African name) to help rebuild Sierra Leone “one village at a time.” Washington has become the first African-American to be granted dual citizenship In Sierra Leone based on DNA testing.

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