Johnny Depp

Depp in 2008

Birth Name: John Christopher Depp II

Place of Birth: Owensboro, Daviess, Kentucky, United States

Date of Birth: June 9, 1963

Ethnicity: English, along with small/distant amounts of Irish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French/French-Canadian, Dutch, Flemish Belgian, and German, as well as 3/2048 African

Johnny Depp is an American actor, producer, and musician. He is the star of the films A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Platoon, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Dead Man, Donnie Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow, Chocolat, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, The Libertine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland (2010), and its sequel; Dark Shadows (2012), The Lone Ranger (2013), Black Mass, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and the series 21 Jump Street. Johnny was selected People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2003, and again in 2009. He has often worked with director Tim Burton. He is a member of rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires, with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry. He also founded film production company Infinitum Nihil.

Johnny is the son of Betty Sue (Wells), a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer. He was raised partly in Miramar, Florida. He has two children, including actress and model Lily-Rose Depp, with his former partner, French singer, model, and actress Vanessa Paradis.

Much or most of Johnny’s ancestry traces back to England. He also has small amounts (to varying degrees) of Irish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, French-Canadian, Dutch, Flemish Belgian, and German, ancestry, as well as 3/2048 African ancestry (through Elizabeth Key Grinstead, who is his ancestor twice over). Johnny’s patrilineal line is generally traced to Pierre Deppe, a Huguenot, who was born, c. 1706, in France, and to Pierre’s wife, Angelica/Angeline LeVillian/le Villian.

Both of Johnny’s parents, as well as all of Johnny’s grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, were born in Kentucky. Johnny has stated, on several occasions, that he has or likely has Native American ancestry (of varying tribes, most often Cherokee). For example:

I guess I have some Native American somewhere down the line… My great grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek.

It does not appear that this Native American ancestry has been documented. All of Johnny’s grandparents and great-grandparents are listed as “White” on United States Censuses. No verified Native American ancestry has been produced for Johnny Depp.

LOS ANGELES – MAY 18: Depp arrives for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” US Premiere in Hollywood, CA, 2017, photo by DFree

Johnny’s paternal grandfather was Oren Larry Depp (the son of Oren Richard Depp and Effie A. Palmore). Johnny’s grandfather Oren was born in Barren County, Kentucky. Johnny’s great-grandfather Oren was the son of John Burkes/Burks Depp and Mariba Elizabeth Reneau. Effie was the daughter of Andrew H. Palmore and Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” McCreary.

Johnny’s paternal grandmother was Violet Mattie Grinstead (the daughter of Robert Fauntleroy “Roy” Grinstead and Mary E. Bailey). Roy was the son of Christopher Tompkins Grinstead and Martha S. “Mattie” Sanders. Mary was the daughter of Joseph Taylor Bailey and Martha Ann Mansfield.

Johnny’s maternal grandfather was Walter Everett/Everette Wells (the son of Richard Mack/Mac Wells and Annie/Anna Cooper). Richard was the son of Commodore Perry Wells and Rebecca Ann “Beckie” Litteral/Little. Johnny’s great-grandmother Anna was the daughter of William M. “Bill” Cooper and Sallie/Sarah Kelly/Craft.

Johnny’s maternal grandmother was Bessie Whitaker (the daughter of Branch Whitaker and May/Mae Slone). Branch was the son of William C. Whitaker and Sirilda/Sarilda/Serilda Fletcher/Fletchet. May was the daughter of Wiley Slone and Amanda Bradley.

Johnny is descended from a woman, Martha, who was born in 1612, and who was of African descent. Martha had a daughter, Elizabeth Key Grinstead, married to William Grinstead, who were Johnny’s ancestors. Elizabeth’s father, Thomas Key, was caucasian, of English descent. Elizabeth was the first woman of African ancestry to successfully take legal action to free herself from slavery. This happened in 1656. Johnny is descended from Martha twice (on one family tree, she is both one of his eight times great-grandmothers, and one of his nine times great-grandmothers). That would mean that Johnny is of 3/2048 African ancestry.

Some family trees state that Johnny’s nine times great-grandmother was a woman named Nicketti Opechancanough, who is said to have been of Powhatan Native American ancestry. If true, that would make Johnny of 1/2048 Powhatan Native American descent. However, stories about her are believed to be a myth. Scholarly research and records dispute the existence of Nicketti Opechancanough.

Sources: Genealogies of Johnny Depp –

Genealogy of Johnny’s paternal grandparents, Oren Larry Depp and Violet Mattie Grinstead –

Johnny’s paternal grandfather, Oren Larry Depp (“Laramore Depp”), on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Johnny’s paternal grandmother, Violet Mattie Grinstead (“Violet M. Grinstead”), on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Johnny’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Christopher Tompkins Grinstead and Martha S. “Mattie” Sanders, on the 1880 U.S. Census –

Genealogy and obituary of Johnny’s mother –

Johnny’s maternal grandfather, Walter Everett/Everette Wells (“Everette Wells”), on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Johnny’s maternal great-grandmother, Annie/Anna (Cooper) Wells, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Johnny’s maternal great-great-grandparents, William M. “Bill” Cooper and Sallie/Sarah Kelly/Craft, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Johnny’s maternal grandmother, Bessie Whitaker, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Article about Johnny’s ancestor, Elizabeth (Key) Grinstead –


Curious about ethnicity

769 Responses

  1. Malefactor says:

    He looks slightly Native influenced.

  2. andrew says:


    Johnny never looked British or “white” in his life and he will never be. He’s not your average European guy. His look is the key of his success. He has claimed at least 100 times to have Native roots. Being/looking white is not his goal.

    • ashash says:

      “He has claimed at least 100 times to have Native roots.”

      So has Kim Basinger and Elizabeth Warren (a proven liar). There’s no proof of Native American ancestry for Johnny Depp, and it seems he doesn’t know either since he keeps changing the story. First, it was Cherokee, then Cree. First, it was on his mother’s side and then on his father’s side and then on both. He claimed one of his great-grandmothers was very Native American, although none of them are.

      It may not be his goal to look “white,” but he is “white.”

      • Dolv says:

        >Kim Basinger and Elizabeth Warren
        Neither have European features. Stop with this cope, Americans will never be white even if you are blonde with blue eyes, you are all just bleached mestizos and castizos.

        • peekaboo mewmew-ricans says:

          Basinger can looks European and from the North but being Murican she has other roots so she’s just a multiracial “white” —-, Warren is the odd one with that such large wide nose but for the Murican standard she’s only total white simply cause she has light colors rotfl!!! Like the regular “white” Murican has the oversized —-, her folk have all the features so big and —– compared to us Euros.

    • ashash says:


      Also, many Native Americans were upset about him playing Tonto and considered it racist because he is “white.”

      It is also a myth that Native American heritage is untraceable (see Bristol Palin, Colton Haynes, Gina Carano, Sky Ferreira, Armie Hammer, etc.)

      Johnny Depp doesn’t want to be considered “white.” But he can get in line with the 100s of other celebrities who also claim to be part Native American but have little to none.

    • ashash says:


      Here is a closeup of his face:

      If Cheryl Cole is British and she certainly is, Johnny Depp definitely could be of mostly English descent … like his ancestry proves.

  3. cwm85 says:

    He’s white. Unless you count hos African-American ancestry for more than 400 years ago…

  4. California says:

    He looks Spanish or Italian. His daughter is average looking, I honestly thought she’d be a lot prettier considering she’s the daughter of Johnny Depp. Looks nothing like him.

  5. cwm85 says:

    He’s several ethnicities of European groups. He is not native, he is not arab or part black. Sorry to disappoint you all. He is Caucasian.

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