Ben Affleck responds to backlash over omission of slave ancestors from 'Finding Your Roots' TV show
Published 22/04/2015 | 08:46
Hollywood star Ben Affleck has responded to criticism over the revelation that he asked producers of the 'Finding Your Roots' TV show to leave out information about an ancestor that was a slave owner.
A Sony email published by Wikileaks last week revealed he had approached executive producer Henry Louis Gates Jr to omit the slave owner from the programme.
Affleck (42) yesterday took to Facebook to explain his reasoning, admitting he was "embarrassed" over the revelation.
"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," he said.
"I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought of it left a bad taste in my mouth."
However, he went on to say that he simply asked and did not insist that the information be excluded.
"Skip decided what went into the show," he said.
"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."
Gatis, whose nickname is Skip, had previously stated that other aspects of Affleck's ancestry were more interesting and Affleck touched on this.
"Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with," he said.
"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."
Of criticism over the show's network PBS, he wrote, "It's important to remember that this isn't a news program."
"Finding Your Roots is a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable.
"The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family."
With the information now out in the open, Affleck says he is happy it is generating discussion on a difficult subject.
"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," he wrote.
"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 begin talked about."