Kerry Washington says she didn’t fully understand herself until she learned a few years ago that her dad was not her biological father.
The “Scandal” star opens up about the family secret in her new memoir, “Thicker Than Water,” which promises a deeply personal look into the actor’s private life.
“It really turned my world upside down,” she told People magazine while promoting her book in an interview on Sunday.
Washington’s parents, Valarie and Earl Washington, had to come clean to their daughter after she made plans to appear on the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” which invites celebrities to learn about their family history through DNA testing.
The “Little Fires Everywhere” actor told The New York Times her parents began “freaking out” once it was time for Washington to send in her sample ― a tube of spit.
When historian and “Finding Your Roots” host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., reached out to the Washingtons, they were asking for a chance to tell their daughter about her family history in private.
Kerry Washington attends the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 12.
The three met in person, where Washington learned her parents used a sperm donor to conceive her.
“When I got this information, I was like, ‘Oh, I now know my story,’” she said, noting how she always felt as if her parents were keeping something from her. “I didn’t know what my story was, but I was playing the supporting character in their story.”
Washington told the Times the revelation was comforting after decades of feeling something adrift about her identity.
“I always had this nagging sense that there was something fraudulent about it. I didn’t quite know myself well enough,” she explained.
Learning her family secret led to deep introspection for Washington.
“This is really kind of me working to understand my life up until now,” she told People. “Given this new information that I have that, in many ways, felt like sort of the missing puzzle piece.”
“Thicker Than Water,” published by Little, Brown Spark, will be released Sept. 26.