Famous personalities explore their ancestry on ‘Finding Your Roots’

Today’s most compelling personalities discover the surprising stories buried within their own families in the sixth season of the critically acclaimed PBS series “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” The series airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

The sixth season of “Finding Your Roots” on PBS features 27 fascinating new guests who are game-changers in their fields, with family histories that illustrate the power and diversity of the human experience. Among them are actors Jeffrey Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Melissa McCarthy and Sterling K. Brown; groundbreaking director Jordan Peele; and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

In sharing their stories, “Finding Your Roots” uses every tool available, from cutting-edge DNA research to old-school genealogical sleuthing, to reveal long-buried secrets. Spanning the globe, the series compiles family trees that trace throughout the United States and Canada; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Germany, Poland, Ireland, Russia and more. Episode to episode, audiences will meet guests’ ancestors who were business people and bootleggers, war heroes and criminals, farmers and immigrants, the persecuted and the persevering under the most extraordinary circumstances. Together, the arc of each guest’s family personalizes history while emphasizing the human connections that unite us.

At the center of it all, guiding every discovery, is host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

“It’s part of a larger mission to inspire us all to seek out the stories of our ancestors—to see history as something that we are all a part of, that we all have a stake in—and, in realizing this, to help us arrive at a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the human family,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. said. “Our series strives to show how all Americans are related, despite our present divisive politics, at the most fundamental levels of all: through our families, through our immigrant experiences, whether forced or voluntary, and at the level of the genome.”

This fall, enjoy new season six episodes as well as favorites from past seasons. More new episodes will come later this season.

Oct. 8: “Hollywood Royalty” (NEW)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actors Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston and Mia Farrow unearth surprising new revelations about their family histories, taking them generations beyond their famous cinematic forebears. Watch via Passport.

Oct. 15: “Off the Farm” (NEW)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the humble roots of comedic actors Melissa McCarthy and Eric Stonestreet, retracing the ancestral journeys that laid the groundwork for their success. Watch online.

Oct. 22: “Family Reunions”

Uncover family mysteries about two hip hop legends, Sean Combs and LL Cool J, through the use of DNA technology that reveals information that shakes their very foundations. Watch via Passport.

Oct. 29: “Unfamiliar Kin”

Actors Fred Armisen and Christopher Walken and musician Carly Simon each learn about a grandparent whose real identity and background had been a mystery to them – redefining how they see themselves. Watch via Passport.

Nov. 5: “Black Like Me”

Bryant Gumbel, Tonya Lewis-Lee and Suzanne Malveaux discover a tapestry of the unexpected in their ancestry, revealing slaves and free people of color, Civil War legacies and forgotten European origins. Watch via Passport.

Nov. 12: “Grandparents and Other Strangers”

Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actor Andy Samberg and author George R. R. Martin answer some family mysteries when DNA detective work uncovers new branches of their family trees. The DNA analysis upends family history and reveals new relatives. Watch via Passport.

Nov. 19: “No Laughing Matter”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. shows comedians Seth Meyers, Tig Notaro and Sarah Silverman that their family tress are filled with people whose struggles laid the groundwork for their success. Gates also reveals to each one news of an unexpected cousin. Watch via Passport.

Nov. 26: “The Pioneers”

Discover how Neil Patrick Harris, Gloria Steinem and Sandra Cisneros are connected to pioneers who broke new ground and paved the way for their modern-day descendants to continue shaping our culture.

Jan. 7: “Homecomings”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actor Sterling K. Brown, comedian Sasheer Zamata and musician Jon Batiste discover the unexpected places their ancestors called home, providing new insight into the people and places that made them who they are today.

Jan. 14: “This Land is My Land”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reveals the unexpected family trees of entertainer Queen Latifah and actor Jeffrey Wright, redefining their sense of the black experience — and challenging preconceptions about America’s past.

Jan. 21: “Beyond the Pale”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the Jewish heritages of actor Jeff Goldblum, radio host Terry Gross and comedian Marc Maron, uncovering previously unknown stories that show each shares much more with their ancestors than a religious tradition.

Jan. 28: “Secrets & Lies”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actors Sigourney Weaver, Justina Machado and Amy Ryan unearth surprising revelations about  their family histories, forever altering how they see themselves.

 

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