Director Ava DuVernay’s Reaction to Discovering her Heritage on ‘Finding Your Roots’ is Everything

Powerhouse director, producer, and overall rockstar human being Ava DuVernay went on a journey of finding her family history on Finding Your Roots hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Duvernay discovered that her ancestors were white French slave owners who fled the revolt during the Haitian Revolution, and her stepfather’s third great-grandfather, an inspiration for DuVernay’s breakout film, Selma, was a former slave who registered to vote in the same region where the movie took place.

At one point in the show, Gates asked DuVernay to guess her racial background, and she openly shared her fear that of being more than 50 percent European.

When her true heritage was revealed, DuVernay joyfully threw up her hands in the air, and shouted, “I’m black! I am black!”

It’s official, DuVernay is 57.3 percent African and 41.5 percent European.

“This makes me so happy,” DuVernay told a laughing Gates.

Check out the beautiful clip above!



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The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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