Vanessa L. Williams

Birth Name: Vanessa Lynn Williams

Place of Birth: Tarrytown, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: March 18, 1963

Ethnicity: African-American, along with some English and Welsh, possibly Native American

Vanessa L. Williams is an American actress, singer, songwriter, producer, model, and television personality. She became famous by being the first African-American to win the Miss America Pageant, in 1983.

Vanessa is the daughter of Helen L. (Tinch) and Milton Augustine Williams, Jr. Her parents were both black. Her brother is actor and comedian Chris Williams. Vanessa grew up in a the mainly white middle-class suburb of Millwood, New York. Vanessa is married to businessperson Jim Skrip. She has three children, including dancer and singer Jillian Hervey, with her former husband, public relations specialist Ramon Hervey II; and a daughter with her former husband, Canadian basketball player and actor Rick Fox.

In an interview, a journalist stated that Vanessa’s mixed heritage includes African American, Welsh, and Native American. It is not clear if this Native American ancestry has been verified/documented. Vanessa appeared on the program Who Do You Think You Are? (2011), where she discovered that her great-great-grandfather, David Carll, was a “mulatto” (mixed race) man who avoided slavery and married a white woman (her great-great-grandmother).

Vanessa’s ancestry is at least 1/32nd English. One of her maternal great-great-great-grandfathers, George Appleford, was born in Surrey, England, in 1802.

Vanessa’s paternal grandfather was Milton Augustine/Abner Williams (the son of John Hill Williams and Mary L. Fields). Milton was born in Tennessee. John was the son of George Williams and Mollie/Molly Turner. Mary L. was the daughter of William A. Fields and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Fields.

Vanessa’s paternal grandmother was Iris Agnes Carl/Carll (the daughter of Frank S. Carl/Carll and Imogene Jackson). Iris was born in New York. Frank was the son of David Carll and Mary Louisa Appleford, who was white, and whose own father was English. Imogene was the daughter of Henry Titus Jackson and Emiline/Emmaline G. Russell.

Vanessa’s maternal grandfather was Edward James Tinch (the son of John Wilbur Tinch and Helen Elizabeth Fitzgerald). Edward was born in New Jersey. John was the son of John Tinch. Helen was the daughter of William Fitzgerald and Margaret.

Vanessa’s maternal grandmother was Doris Catherine Griffen/Griffin (the daughter of Moses George Wilson and Elvira Viola Johnson). Doris was born in New York. Moses George was the son of George Wilson and Frances Duson. Elvira was the daughter of Waldo/Walter Johnson and Fannie/Fanny Cavel/Calvin.

An DNA test stated that Vanessa’s genetic ancestry is:

*56% African
——–*23% Ghana
——–*15% Cameroon/Congo
——–*7% Togo
——–*6% Benin
——–*5% Senegal
*44% European
——–*17% British Isles
——–*12% Finnish/Ural/Volga
——–*11% Southern European
——–*4% Spain/Portugal

Vanessa has said:

Now, I can’t wait to go to Ghana and Cameroon and Togo and Senegal — it’s a great opportunity to see why the customs resonate with you. I love to travel and I love to explore, and I have to admit that I was always jealous of people who knew their cultural background. Both my family and myself came out with light eyes, so obviously there is a recessive gene here. Not knowing what that was just made me very curious.

Sources: Genealogies of Vanessa L. Williams –

Genealogy of Vanessa’s father (focusing on his mother’s side) –

Vanessa’s paternal grandmother, Iris Agnes Carl/Carll, on the 1930 U.S. Census –



Curious about ethnicity

315 Responses

  1. Scholar says:

    Take a look at the post by Van’s Real Cuzzo. “Our heritage is a melting pot of MANY races; as is most of everyone in America (excluding foreigners). Yes, we have caucasion ancestry, we have african american ancestry, we have american indian heritage (more than one tribe), there’s even some Irish and German.”

    There is a good chance that this is a REAL cousin of Vanessa Williams who is talking about THEIR family. There are MANY Williams’ living in North Carolina. Not many generations ago Vanessa’s family lived in North Carolina. in the 1700s There were considerable populations of White, African, and Tuscarora (sixth nation of the Iroqouis Confederacy) living in the coastal region of North Carolina.

    A large majority of people whose heritage traces back to the 1700s in the coastal area of North Carolina multi-racial (white, black and indian). For cultural reasons too numerous to detail here, that part of the country did not have the same fears abour miscegenation. In addition, enough of the area was so swampy that it hampered the efforts of the authorities in their attempts to enforce laws against interracial marriage/sex.

    Many of the mixed racial residents of North Carolina have such mixed backgrounds that they have the opportunity to choose their racial affialtion. To look at them you might guess that they are of a different background than the one they claim.

    For further evidence check the background of the famous actress Ava Gardner born in Brogden, North Carolina whose mother was a baptist of Scots Irish English descent and whose father was of Irish catholic and Tuscarora descent.

    Van’s Real Cuzzo is quite likely correct that their family is Caucasian, African American and American Indian.

    As a matter of fact there was also a large population of East Indian (India and Pakistan) indentured servants in the area as well so there may even be some East Indian genes in the mix as well.

  2. Lauren says:


  3. tianna says:

    whoah and who said all bi-racial ppl have nappy hair? cuz im mixed, and my hair is fine. its just really curly . :P

  4. tianna says:

    she looks super mixed to me! lol, but you never know ..

  5. eimh says:

    QUOTE …..

    “It is often a surprise for people to learn that,
    in reality, there is actually No Such Thing
    As a “Light Skinned Black” person.

    The term “Light Skinned Black” is really nothing more
    than a racist oxymoron that was created by racial
    Supremacists in an effort to forcibly deny those
    Mixed-Race individuals, who are of what is referred
    to as being a Multi-Generational Multiracially-Mixed
    (MGM-Mixed) Lineage, the right to fully embrace and
    to also receive public support in choosing to acknowledge
    the truth regarding their complete ancestral heritage.

    The people who have been slapped with the false label and
    oxymoronic misnomer of “Light Skinned Black” person are
    simply Mixed-Race individuals — who are from families
    which have became and have remained continually
    Mixed-Race throughout their multiple generations.

    It should also be noted that no one is saying that having
    a light skin complexion is the ‘only’ or even a ‘required’
    proof of being of a continuously Mixed-Race lineage.

    What is simply being said here is that it is just one
    of the clearly-visible and openly undeniable forms
    of proof that a person is of a Mixed-Race lineage.

    Also — contrary to popular mixconception, the term of
    ‘African-American’ (AA) does NOT mean (racially) Black.

    It is simply a reference to the Ethnic grouping of people
    (as opposed to a ‘racial’ grouping of people) who are:
    “the descendants-of-the-survivors of the chattel slavery
    system that took place on the continental United States
    during the antebellum period of the nation’s history.”

    The Ethnic group known as the ‘African-Americans’ (AA)
    are found to have a wide variety and range of skin tones,
    hair textures, facial features and body sizes and types –
    which are a result of the fact that more than 70% of the
    people born to two (2) AA parents are of an ancestral
    lineage includes +20-30 European & +25% Amerindian.

    Again, the group known as ‘African-American’ (AA) is not
    a ‘Racial’ grouping of people and it is also not the same
    group of people that is referred to as ‘Black American’ (BA).

    While the AAs are a largely Mixed-Race ETHNIC grouping
    and are composed of “the descendants of the survivors”
    – and the BAs on the other hand, are a Black RACE
    grouping that is composed of ‘volitional immigrants’

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