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Maya Rudolph breaks down after discovering ancestry

ShowbizBy Sunday World
Maya Rudolph breaks down after discovering ancestry

Maya Rudolph discovers her ancestors were slaves in an emotional episode of 'Finding Your Roots'.

The 'Bridesmaids' actress, the daughter of singer Minnie Riperton and composer Richard Rudolph, is the latest star to appear on the genealogy programme, and tells host Henry Louis Gates Jr. that her main aim is to find her identity.

She said: "I have this thing where I just feel I can be anyone. And I think being mixed, too, I kind of, sort of grew up feeling a little orphaned by the idea of my heritage.

"I know I'm from 'peoples,' but I don't know who they are. I want to know people's names, I want to know what they did, I want to know where they lived. I want to go as far back as possible."

Her journey begins when Henry traces back one of the star's lines from mother Minnie and found that two of her ancestors Manuel Grigsby and Mary Thurman were born into slavery in Lincoln County, Kentucky.

After discovering the names and that Manuel and Mary were born in 1827 and 1830 respectively, the genealogy team do a search for John Warren Grigsby, discovering that name due to Manuel having taken the surname of his slave owner.

They then came acorss John's slave census, which listed all his slaves by gender and age instead of name.

Mother-of-four Maya is then seen struggling to control her emotions as she says: "I cannot believe I'm looking at this."

She finds her ancestor on the census by his age, as he would have been five at the time.

She added: "That breaks my heart. I just think of my kids. That's really hard to see. Wow. I just can't believe what I'm looking at."

"That poor little boy. That's insane. You just don't think of details, because you don't have them. And then I see five and I think of my daughter... How can you imagine anything like that?"

Maya's episode of 'Finding Your Roots' airs on Tuesday (19.01.16) at 8pm on PBS.