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Stunning Moment Julia Roberts Learns She is Not a "Roberts" After DNA Reveals Family Scandal

“You’re Julia Mitchell.”

The name "Julia Roberts" is one of the most recognizable names in the world—but it might not even be accurate. The actress was stunned to discover her real name should actually be Mitchell, after DNA archives revealed family scandal amongst her ancestors. One of her family members had an affair with a married man—and that man is her real ancestor. "This was a very unexpected turn," she said. Keep reading to find her reaction, learn how her ancestry was discovered and if she plans to change her name.

Finding Her Roots


Roberts, 55, took part in Finding Your Roots, a PBS series where people learn more about their ancestry with the help of scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Gates shared a shocking discovery with Roberts—she wasn't, in fact, a Roberts at all, and it's down to something her great-great-grandmother Rhoda Suttle Roberts did.

Great Great Scandal

Julia Roberts at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival
Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock

It turns out Roberts' great great grandmother had an affair with a married man, who is Roberts' actual ancestor. "Digging into Georgia's County archives, we discovered that sometime in the 1850s, Rhoda married a man named Willis Roberts," Gates said. "Julia carries Willis' last name. But Willis passed away in 1864, over a decade before Rhoda gave birth to Julia's great grandfather, John, leading to an inescapable conclusion."

"So We're Mitchells?"


Because Willis died a decade before Rhoda gave birth to Roberts' great grandfather, he was obviously not a Roberts. DNA testing revealed Roberts' real great-great-grandfather was Henry MacDonald Mitchell Jr., a married man with six children who lived four houses away from Rhoda Suttle. "So we're Mitchells?" the stunned actress asked. "You're Julia Mitchell," Gates responded.

Mind Blown


Roberts was shocked at the discovery. "Truly my mind is blown. It is fascinating," she said. "And on the other hand there's you know part of me that you know that when I'm calmer, you know can still wrap my arms around the idea that my family is my family."

Name Change?

Julia Roberts at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016
Denis Makarenko /

There doesn't seem to be any plans for the actress to change her name following this startling discovery. Roberts made it clear she prefers the name she has now, even if it isn't strictly accurate. "I do prefer the name Roberts," she said. "This was a very unexpected turn."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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