Who Do You Think You Are? previewed its season 11 episode that features actor Billy Porter, who makes a discovery about the murder of one of his family members. The show follows celebrities as they trace their family trees and research their genealogy in order to find out more about themselves. They travel to locations in the United States and all over the world as they work with historians, genealogists, and other experts to piece together the stories of their ancestors. The Emmy-Award season returns to NBC for its fourth season where it aired for three seasons before TLC picked it up for seven seasons.
Billy is a multi-talented actor and singer. He won the 2013 Tony Award for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway. The following year, he won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for the show. He has released several other albums and has performed in many concerts. Billy won the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the television series Pose, making him the first gay Black man to achieve the honor. In 2020, he was included on the prestigious Time list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World. Billy’s episode will air first on Who Do You Think You Are? season 11, followed by Nick Offerman, Allison Janney, Zachary Levi, Bradley Whitford, and Zachary Quinto.
Now People reveals that, on his Who Do You Think You Are? episode, Billy met with a family historian and genealogist to learn more about the 1923 death of his maternal great-grandfather. Through this research, Billy discovered that his great-grandfather was shot by a police officer at the age of 33. The police officer was never held accountable for his actions. People reports that the show’s press release reads, “Billy’s research takes him through conflicting accounts of what happened, before he discovers a local African-American newspaper that lays bare the appalling truth of his grandfather’s death and the community uproar that followed.” In the first look promo for Who Do You Think You Are?, Billy expresses his shock that his ancestor died at the age of 33 as he studies his Pennsylvania death certificate. At the end of the trailer, Billy holds back tears as he says, “These are the shoulders that I stand on.”
Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky serve as executive producers of Who Do You Think You Are?. In a statement made to People, Dan shared that the series has been on “an unpredictable journey” that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has never waned “from our mission to tell powerful, personal and global stories.” He said that the show has been “a true passion project” for him and Lisa since it premiered. Dan went on to say, “Our love for and dedication to these moving stories about the shoulders on which so many of our favorite celebrities have stood has only grown over the almost 80 episodes we’ve made. Each is a reminder of the enormity of history — but also how intricately and intimately it has foreshadowed the lives of those who come after.” He concluded by saying that they are thrilled “to be back home” at NBC where Who Do You Think You Are? began “making history by talking about it. And we’ve never been more excited about a collection of ancestral stories than we have with Billy, Bradley, Allison, Zack, Nick, and Zachary.”
Who Do You Think You Are? is a beautiful show that shines a light on history by bringing a personal touch to the stories of the past. Billy’s ancestor’s story is just as relevant today as it was nearly a hundred years ago when it first occurred. As he learns more about his own family, viewers will learn more about the nation’s history.