BEN AFFLECK regrets asking the host of genealogy show FINDING YOUR ROOTS to avoid including an ancestor who owned slaves, confessing he was “embarrassed” by the revelation.
A leaked Sony Pictures email published on WikiLeaks earlier this month (Apr15) revealed the Gone Girl actor had asked the show’s host Henry Louis Gates, Jr., also known as Skip, not to mention the fact hat he was related to a slave owner.
After Gates, Jr.’s email exchange with Sony boss Michael Lynton about the episode surfaced, the host insisted his team simply chose to focus on other parts of Affleck’s family history, but the actor has now admitted he urged producers to exclude the story.
In a post on Facebook.com, he writes, “After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for Finding Your Roots, it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves. I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.
“Skip decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use. This is the collaborative creative process. Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with. In the end, it’s his show and I knew that going in. I’m proud to be his friend and proud to have participated.
“I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.”
Reports suggest Affleck’s ancestor was James McGuire, a relative of the actor’s father Timothy, who kept eight slaves on his farm in New Jersey in the 1840s.