Kerry Washington Finds Out Her Dad is Not Her Biological Father: ‘It Turned My World Upside Down’

The actress revealed the life-changing news in her new memoir, 'Thicker Than Water,' and talked about how it affected her, in a new interview.

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Kerry Washington, 46, shared details about the life-changing moment she recently found out that her dad, Earl Washington, is not her biological father, in her new memoir, Thicker Than Water. The talented actress talked about her new book and the shocking experience, in a new interview with PEOPLE, this week. “It really turned my world upside down,” she told the outlet.

She revealed that she found out about the family secret after she told her parents she was going to appear on Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Finding Your Roots. The PBS series gives celebrities the opportunity to learn about their ancestors through DNA testing. At the time, Kerry’s mother, Valerie, and her dad, Earl, decided to have a private conversation with her to give her the news about her biological father. The sit-down happened in spring 2018.

Kerry Washington, Parents
Kerry with her parents, Valerie and Earl, at a previous event. (Phil Mccarten/UPI/Shutterstock)

“When I got this information, I was like, ‘Oh. I now know my story,'” Kerry explained, adding she felt a sense of relief since she suspected her parents were keeping something from her for a long time. “I didn’t know what my story was, but I was playing the supporting character in their story.”

Kerry went on to reveal that she stayed calm during the memorable moment, but asked a lot of questions. She learned that her parents chose to use an anonymous sperm donor to help them conceive after they struggled with fertility issues. Although the news came as a surprise, Kerry thinks her previous senses led to many physical issues over time.

“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 said about struggling with anxiety and self-esteem issues for years. She also struggled with an eating disorder when she was younger, and thinks those issues may have been symptoms of subconsciously sensing her parents’ secret.

Kerry’s feelings about the revelation is what inspired her to write her memoir, which details intimate parts about her life. “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 shared. “My parents were not thrilled about me writing this,” she added, before explaining that “this really is a book about me. I now get to step into being the most important person in my life.”

Despite her parents’ hesitation about the book, Kerry further admitted that her relationship with them has only gotten better over time. “I really started to have so much more love and compassion and understanding for my parents,” she said. “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.”

Thicker Than Water will be released on September 26.