Actress Vanessa Williams has let it be known that she is interested in learning about her complex family background, as her journey began in 2011 when she starred in the television show Who Do You Think You Are. Now, the Desperate Housewives star took to Ancestry.com to reveal how the information changed her life.
While starring in Who Do You Think You Are, Williams participated in a DNA analysis, where she discovered, "I'm 23% from Ghana, 17% from the British Isles, 15% from Cameroon, 12% Finnish, 11% Southern European, 7% Togo, 6% Benin, 5% Senegal and 4% Portuguese.
"Now, I can't wait to go to Ghana and Cameroon and Togo and Senegal — it's a great opportunity to see why the customs resonate with you," Williams said. "I love to travel and I love to explore, and I have to admit that I was always jealous of people who knew their cultural background. Both my family and myself came out with light eyes, so obviously there is a recessive gene here. Not knowing what that was just made me very curious."
Williams continued by describing her excitement towards discovering her lineage. "It's fascinating," Williams beamed. "The first person I called was my mother, and I sent her my results and copied all my kids so they know where half of their genetic makeup is from. I wish that my father was still alive, because he was a huge history buff and interested in genealogy as well. It allows a greater sense of history for the family and a bit of pride as well."
Merely knowing about one's DNA is not the only reason to have the tests done, according to Williams, as she added that understanding where you come from can also help you understand your health conditions!
"I remember my mother told me that when my brother was a baby, they identified some blood issue with him, and they asked her if she had any relatives from Italy because this particular blood characteristic was consistent with someone from Italy," Williams remembered. "My mother said, 'No, no, nothing like that.' Well, now come to find out 45 years later and obviously we have the same genetic makeup that Southern European is 11% of our makeup."
Williams then concluded by saying that she was looking forward to exploring destinations such as Finland in order to get to know her family better.
"The biggest surprise was Finland," Williams said. "How did that happen? Who is Finnish? That is definitely going to be one of my trips coming up. It's all surprising, really interesting and it's really incredible."