The PBS Series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will return Tuesday, September 23 for its second season. The 10-part series explores the heritages and ancestries of 30 of today’s leading entertainers, athletes, chefs, and media personalities, including Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Khandi Alexander, Tom Colicchio, Tina Fey, Sally Field, Derek Jeter, Stephen King, Nas, Anna Deavere Smith, Sting, and Courtney Vance
According to an announcement issued by the television program’s producers:
“The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from was at the core of the first season of the PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In the second, 10-part season, Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, continues his journey into the past to illuminate the familial histories of 30 of today’s most recognizable names in sports, music, film, television, theatre, and literature. Filmed on location around the world, season two of Finding Your Roots, premieres nationally Tuesdays, September 23rd – November 25th at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CST) on PBS (check local listings).”
The same announcement also states:
“The episode construction of Season Two explores a much wider array of themes than Season One. In each episode, Gates focuses on the specific ethnic roots, cultural traditions and deep interplay of family influence and genetics of three guests, including: celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Aaron Sanchez and Ming Tsai, who cook the food of their ancestors and discover family members who have shaped their lives—and America’s cuisine; Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King and Rebecca Lobo, three of America’s greatest athletes whose determination and love of sports were deeply shaped by their families, but who were all cut off from their true origins—raising the question of whether champions are made or born; actress Tina Fey, humorist David Sedaris and journalist George Stephanopolous, all of whom look into their Greek American ancestry; and American playwright Tony Kushner, singer-songwriter Carole King and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who not only share a Jewish heritage, but a history of perseverance in the face of withering opposition.
“In other episodes, actors Ben Affleck and Khandi Alexander come to realize their families have long been engaged in the battle for freedom and civil rights, but they had no idea that those principles were passed down through generations of ancestors. Gates also explores the history of the Vanderbilt family with Anderson Cooper, discovers a web of intimate relationships between Nas’ slave ancestors and their masters, and traces Sting’s roots back centuries in England where we find that being close to the seat of the Empire doesn’t mean that life is any better.”