Bond star Naomie Harris on why looking into her family tree tonight for Who Do You Think You Are? changed her life
As 007’s right-hand woman Moneypenny in the James Bond films, Naomie Harris is used to facing a dramatic shock or two. But even Naomie, who is currently filming the 25th Bond movie, wasn’t prepared for the revelations she made when she looked into her own ancestry for Who Do You Think You Are?
Naomie Harris reveals the impact of taking part in genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? tonight…
TV Times: Why did Who Do You Think You Are? appeal to you?
Naomie Harris: “I’d never been interested in my ancestry until my mum gave me a DNA kit as a present and I discovered I was almost 50% Nigerian. It sparked my interest because I realised I knew absolutely nothing.”
TVT: What was it like to find that direct African connection through your maternal ancestor Elizabeth Leevers, a slave in Jamaica who’d been brought over from Africa?
NH: “Incredible. I was in tears. Even though Elizabeth is my five-times great-grandmother and far removed, it meant so much. It makes you feel complete and part of this chain in history.”
TVT: But you found out one of your paternal ancestors was an overseer of slaves in Grenada. Was that tough to discover?
NH: “Being from the Caribbean you know you’re involved in slavery but it was a shock. But it’s a wonderful message that we’re made up of a multitude of different heritages.”
TVT: In Jamaica, you looked into the roots of your maternal grandfather Josceyln Harris. Was that emotional?
NH: “It was super-emotional! I reunited with my great-grandmother’s neighbour who I’d met as a little girl. She had photos and it brought back so many memories of my grandfather and how close we were. It was sad but beautiful because I realised what a huge impact he had on my life.”
TVT: What else will you take away?
NH: “Part of my family story is tragic and involves poverty, slavery and hardship. But I feel gratitude for the sacrifices made so that I could have the privileges I do today. I feel different as a result of being part of the programme. It’s given me a desire to make the most of life, because I’m a workaholic. I want to enjoy myself more because my ancestors weren’t able to. For their sake, I want to have more fun!”
Who Do You Think You Are? airs on Monday 29 July on BBC1 at 9pm