In anticipation of their ”Roots” reboot, the History Channel sat down with both the old and new “Kunta Kinte” to investigate the actors’ ancestry.
“I’ve always felt like there’s a piece of me missing,” said Burton, who portrayed the slave “Kunta Kinte” in the hit 1977 miniseries adaptation of Alex Haley’s classic book. “I’m sure a lot of Black people in this country have the same feeling, that who I am did not just begin here.”
“It’s just really nice not to have to guess anymore. I can actually say this is where I’m from,” added Kirby, the English actor who portrays “Kinte” in the reboot.
Both actors traced 75 percent of their respective ancestries to sub-Saharan Africa. To their mutual surprise, Kirby’s genetic test revealed that 20 percent of his background originates in South Asia, while Burton traced almost 25 percent from Europe.
Burton is a co-executive producer on the rebooted series, which will premiere on Memorial Day (May 30) and features Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Miles Ahead”), Forest Whitaker and Anika Noni Rose in starring roles. The History Channel partnered with private genetics firm 23andMe for the video, which you can see above.
(H/t Shadow and Act)