During the latest episode of Finding Your Roots, actor Danny Trejo was visibly overwhelmed when he learned the history behind his family’s relocation to America from Mexico.
The hit show follows Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr as he delves deep into the genealogical records of some of our most beloved celebrities, uncovering the forgotten lives of their ancestry using DNA analysis.
Season 9 kicked off with Ed Norton, who learns that he’s actually a direct descendant of THE Pocahontas. He is related to the historical icon through her marriage to the tobacco planter, John Rolfe, back in 1614, 3 years before she reportedly died.
However, Gates, Jr. informed Norton that his family also used to own slaves, which understandably got Norton feeling more than a little “uncomfortable.”
Norton was followed by Julia Roberts, who also found out something shocking about her family history.
It turns out her family come from a long line of “Mitchells,” meaning her name is technically Julia Mitchell. Despite learning that her name is actually Mitchell, it doesn’t seem like she’s willing to make the name change official any time soon.
And in the latest episode, we saw Spy Kids actor Danny Trejo well up when he learned about his family history.
Trejo reveals that the information about his heritage “could have changed his life.”
According to the actor, he had an incredibly difficult upbringing, with his father being physically abusive to him, as well as kicking his mother out of their home when he was young.
As the years went on, Trejo found himself in a less-than-ideal situation when he followed in his uncle Gilbert’s footsteps and got caught up in gang crime.
“My uncle Gilbert, who was for lack of a better word a drug dealer, he never complained so I kind of gravitated towards that,” Trejo told Gates.
He later battled a heroin addiction which landed him in prison. It was here that he started on his path to sobriety, and Trejo was later recruited by a casting director which began his journey to stardom.
During the episode, Gates informed the actor that his great-grandfather Cirilo Garay moved to America from Mexico in 1918, working on a farm in Texas, and later moved to San Antonio where he opened up a grocery store.
Then came the history of his mother’s side, Gates shared that his grandmother, Josefa Garcia, moved to America from Mexico in 1904 after his fourth great-grandfather, Luciano Agundez, was granted 4,337 acres of land. “He was a serious landowner,” Gates revealed.
Trejo was clearly taken aback by the news: “I’m just overwhelmed. You have to understand, growing up, I had three alternatives. I could either be a labourer or a gangster or an informant,” the actor explained.
“To learn this, I honestly believe that I think this history could’ve changed my whole family’s life.”
He added: “I think it’s shined a light on who I am on, where I come from and who I come from. I’m really proud of the whole deal.”
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