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Joe Manganiello discovered that he’s part-Black and said he never understood who he was


  • Joe Manganiello learned that he’s a descendant of slaves on PBS’s “Finding Your Roots.” 
  • He’s also descended from an escapee of the Armenian Genocide. 
  • Manganiello told Rolling Stone his relatives are “survivors.” 

PBS’s docuseries “Finding Your Roots” has changed “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello’s understanding of himself forever. 

In a clip of the show, which helps celebrities trace their ancestry, shared with Rolling Stone, host Henry Louis Gates tells Manganiello he’s 7% Sub-Saharan African, which means he’s descended from slaves.

Shockingly, the “Magic Mike XXL” star also learned that none of his DNA matches the Manganiello name. That means that the man Manganiello thought was his grandfather, Emilio Manganiello, isn’t. His father’s DNA revealed that his great-grandparents were William Henry Cutler, a Black man, and Nellie Alton, a white woman.

Because of the magnitude of the revelations, the show implemented its “ethics protocol,” which allowed Manganiello to opt out of the episode if he wanted.

“We give them the option of getting out of the series if they want. Then nobody will know except me and a couple of producers. And there are a couple of people that have withdrawn over the years,” Gates told Rolling Stone. 

But Manganiello decided to share his family secrets on the show. “There are things that make sense now,” he told the outlet. “I’m descended from survivors.”  

joe manganiello

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images



Manganiello’s great grandparents, Cutler and Alton, married in 1887, nearly a century before Loving V. Virginia was overturned, which allowed interracial couples to wed in modern-day America. A few generations before that, Manganiello’s fifth great-grandfather, Plato Turner, was born in Africa and came to the US as a child slave, Rolling Stone revealed. Turner eventually served as a soldier for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. 

Manganiello pointed out what a long journey Turner took “to come from West Africa in chains, on a ship, and to come to the United States and earn your freedom.” 

He also noted that it was “backwards” that Turner fought in the Revolutionary War in an unsegregated army under the promise that “all men are created equal” only for there to be a Civil War to abolish slavery 100 years later.

joe manganiello



The Late Late Show With James Corden/YouTube



The fact that he’s a descendant of slaves considerably shifted Manganiello’s sense of identity, he said, because he believed his father was “F.B.I.” or “full-blooded Italian” growing up in Boston. The family thought that if they had Black ancestors, it would be because they were Sicilian. 

“All of a sudden, I can see myself clearly for the first time,” he admitted, adding that he felt like the person he saw in the mirror was “mirror completely out of focus” until now. 

Manganiello’s episode of “Finding Your Roots” airs on PBS February 9. 



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