Tamera Mowry-Housley was rendered speechless and brought to tears upon learning details of her family’s history on the latest episode of “Finding Your Roots” on PBS. The Hallmark actress says getting answers about her lineage took seven years, but the results were worth the wait.
On an episode of the popular genealogy series that aired on April 4, 2023, Mowry-Housley sat down with host Henry Lewis Gates Jr., to learn about her complicated ancestry and couldn’t believe what the show’s research team discovered, including her family’s link to the very first Thanksgiving. Here’s what you need to know:
Tamera Mowry-Housley Feels Kinship With Ancestor Who Was a ‘Religious Radical’
Mowry-Housley rocketed to fame as a teenager alongside her sister, Tia Mowry, after the twins convinced their mom to move them from Texas to California at age 11, she told Gates Jr., and landed their own TV sitcom, “Sister Sister,” which ran on ABC for six seasons. In the years since, Mowry-Housley has not only continued to have a successful career as an actress, reality star and talk show host, but has also raised her own family.
The star married former FOX News correspondent Adam Housley in May 2011, according to PBS, and have two kids, 10-year-old son Aden and seven-year-old daughter Ariah. Curious about the lineage of her own family, she reached out to “Finding Your Roots,” hoping for some answers about the background of her parents’ families, only knowing that her mom’s family hailed from the Bahamas and her dad’s from Europe.
Among the research team’s discoveries was that her 13th great-grandfather, on her dad’s side, was William Brewster, whom Gates Jr. called a “religious radical” for standing up to British tradition and founding his own church. Stunned by how much she related to his plight, she called the discovery “insane” and exclaimed, “I feel seen!”
Raised in a deeply religious family, Mowry-Housley revealed on the Jesus Calling podcast in November 2022 that she’s felt a deep connection to God since she was eight years old. But she later “transitioned from her pentecostal background to non-denominational like her husband,” according to AmoMama.
Over the years, Mowry-Housley has not been afraid to speak her mind about people who use Christianity to judge or hold others back, including trying to shame her about talking about the joy of sex, according to Yahoo. In 2019, when she was a co-host on “The Real,” Mowry-Housley recalled being judged by others in the church and compared her critics to a story in the Bible.
“I’m talking about the Pharisees,” Mowry-Housley said. “When you read about the Pharisees in the Bible they just focus on the legalistic aspect of Christianity and they will find anything to judge you about. They’re so busy judging people that they don’t even see what’s wrong with them.”
Mowry-Housley’s ancestor, Brewster, grew a following as a religious leader who was not afraid to speak his mind, including leaving Europe for a new land. He was literally a pilgrim, becoming one of the passengers of the Mayflower in 1620 and likely led the prayer at the very first Thanksgiving, Gates Jr. told her.
When she heard that detail, Mowry-Housley said, “You are kidding me! No. That’s it. Okay, mind blown!”
Hours before her episode aired, she wrote on Instagram, “This took 7 years in the making! So grateful for #FindYourRoots and @henrylouisgates did the research to find this amazing discovery!”
Tamera Mowry-Housley Cries Over Ancestor Who Was Enslaved at Age 9
Mowry-Housley was equally stunned by her genealogy results on her mother’s side. She went into the show knowing only that her mom’s mom, a woman named Clarissa Flowers, had roots in the Bahamas, Gates Jr. said.
The researchers at “Finding Your Roots” were able to trace the Flowers family back to the 1800s, when the Bahamas was a part of the British Empire “with an economy driven by slave labor.” One of Mowry-Housley’s ancestor, Margaret Rolle, was born around 1825, Gates Jr. explained, and was enslaved at age nine, eventually achieving emancipation when she was 13.
“What do you think Margaret would have made of you?” Gates Jr. asked.
The thought brought Mowry-Housley to tears as she said, “She’d be proud. But it just feels, you know, she had to go through that as a child! You know, I wonder what she did to escape her current situation. What were her thoughts of hope?”
Mowry-Housley continued, “And then to, you know, finally be free. She was old enough to be conscious of that. That’s what I’m feeling right now, you know, just that moment of (freedom).”
Mowry-Housley’s next Hallmark movie is “Dream Moms,” set to premiere on May 13.