AceShowbiz - Kerry Washington's world was turned "upside down" after learning of a bombshell family secret that had been kept from her for a long time. The actress shares that she only recently found out that her dad Earl Washington is not her biological father.
The "Scandal" alum opens up about the startling discovery about her parents in her new memoir "Thicker Than Water". She explains that the shocking revelation sent her on her current journey of self-discovery.
In an interview with PEOPLE for next week's issue, the 46-year-old star says, "It really turned my world upside down." She reveals that she discovered the family secret shortly after she told her parents she was planning to appear on Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s "Finding Your Roots", a PBS series where celebrities learn about their ancestors through DNA testing.
Having kept the secret for decades, Kerry mom Valerie, a professor, and dad, Earl, a real estate agent, had a private conversation with Henry, who advised them it was always best for families to discuss such revelations privately prior to filming.
The Emmy-winning actress then received text message from her parents inviting her to a family sit-down in the spring of 2018. "When I got this information, I was like, 'Oh. I now know my story,' " she recalls, adding that she felt a sense of relief at the news after long feeling her parents were keeping things from her and that something was missing. "I didn't know what my story was, but I was playing the supporting character in their story."
Kerry managed to keep her calm despite her curiosity while trying to give her parents grace in what was a clearly difficult moment for them. During the conversation they explained they had opted to use an anonymous sperm donor to help conceive after struggling with fertility issues.
"I think that dissonance of like, 'Somebody is not telling me something about my body,' made me feel like there was something in my body I had to fix," she says of struggling for years with anxiety, self-esteem issues and an eating disorder when she was young. She thinks those might have been symptoms of subconsciously sensing her parents' secret.
Following the shocking discovery, Kerry says she's inspired to tell the world her true story which results in her upcoming memoir. "This is really kind of me working to understand my life up until now, given this new information that I have that, in many ways, felt like sort of the missing puzzle piece," she claims.
The "Confirmation" star says her parents were initially "not thrilled about me writing this," but they grew supportive throughout the process. She insists, "This really is a book about me. I now get to step into being the most important person in my life."
Of her bond with her parents after learning about her paternity, Kerry says, "I really started to have so much more love and compassion and understanding for my parents. Taking this deep dive into our family history made me put myself in their shoes and think about the things that they've had to navigate and what they've been through and what they've sacrificed. And it really made me feel closer to them."
Kerry's new book "Thicker Than Water" will hit bookshelves on Tuesday, September 26.