Vanessa L. Williams

Williams in 2011, kathclick/bigstock.com

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. Her roles include Soul Food, Light It Up, Shaft (2000), and the series Ugly Betty.

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.

An AncestryDNA test taken by Vanessa stated that her 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.

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.

Sources: Genealogies of Vanessa L. Williams – http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com
http://www.geni.com

Genealogy of Vanessa’s father (focusing on his mother’s side) – https://www.findagrave.com

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

ethnic

Curious about ethnicity

338 Responses

  1. LizzieLana says:

    Shuold there be like a category called Biracial?

  2. Ethnicity37 says:

    Vanessa took that Ancestry test when it first came out back in 2011 when they didn’t have many African samples. She is definitely more than 56% African probably in the low 60’s range. I came out back then 69% African and it increased to 75.5% African.

    • andrew says:

      She could be even less than 56% SSA

      • Ethnicity37 says:

        Highly doubt that because DNA companies have a European bias. And 23 and me actually wrote about that. The more samples they have from different populations the better the result. Back when she took it they didn’t have many African samples.

        • passingtime85 says:

          She probably has a 23andme account. You could always ask her to log in and ask her what her most recent results are/were. Most likely a pipe dream asking a favor of a celebrity, but you never know, maybe she’d respond.

          Wouldn’t a larger sample set of any ethnic group in particular help to define whether or not you fit into that group? If you went into a hypothetical where the sample set was 90% European and 10% other, if your results didn’t resemble the 90%,then you’d either be identified as the other, and/or undetermined.

          Idk perhaps it’s not that simple but that’s what would make sense to me at a cursory level. Of course larger data sets would cause increased accuracy to more specific regions, but overall I’m not sure how vastly different the assessment of your geographical origin, in continental terms, would change.

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