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Danny Trejo is left 'overwhelmed' after discovering the truth about his ancestors

Trejo got to know more about his ancestors, sparking thoughts on how it might've altered his life.

Danny Trejo is left 'overwhelmed' after discovering the truth about his ancestors
Cover Image Source: Danny Trejo attends the "Shadow of the Cat" red carpet screening at Laemmle Royal on July 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Many recognize American actor Danny Trejo from his numerous roles in popular films, but his journey to Hollywood success wasn't easy. His mother was absent for much of his childhood, leaving him unaware of his maternal family's history. What little he knew of his father's side offered little encouragement. Fortunately, Trejo made a remarkable discovery about his ancestry, which he shared on the January 23rd episode of PBS' "Finding Your Roots" on YouTube.

Danny Trejo attends the 10th Annual Ping Pong 4 Purpose Celebrity Tournament at Dodger Stadium on July 27, 2023. (Image Source: Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez)
Danny Trejo attends the 10th Annual Ping Pong 4 Purpose Celebrity Tournament at Dodger Stadium on July 27, 2023. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The shocking revelation led him to speculate on how much it could have affected his entire life. Talking to host Henry Louis Gates Jr, the actor discussed how most of the men in the family went for construction work and, as a result, complained all the time. The only person he felt close to was his Uncle Gilbert, who was the only person who didn't complain. However, he was a drug dealer, which, in turn, pushed Trejo to start dealing heroin and even join a gang where he committed robberies at the very young age of 12.

Danny Trejo participates in the 134th Rose Parade Presented by Honda on January 02, 2023. (Image Source: Getty Images | Jerod Harris)
Danny Trejo participates in the 134th Rose Parade Presented by Honda on January 02, 2023. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Life was quite turbulent for Trejo, with his uncle passing away a few years later and multiple jail visits. Everything changed when he managed to get the attention of a casting agent on a chance visit to a Hollywood set. He probably would have ended up like his uncle if he had never seriously got into acting. He had very little idea of his family's origins then and continued living and working as an actor. Gates helped Trejo take a deep dive into understanding who his ancestors were to give him a better understanding of where he came from.

Danny Trejo attends
Danny Trejo attends "Clerks III" Premiere at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters on August 24, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

Trejo learned from him that his great-grandfather, Cirilo Garay, moved to America from Mexico in 1918. He went to work on a farm in Texas, barely making ends meet. But his great-grandfather persevered and, by 1930, could buy a house and a grocery store. Seeing how his hard work paid off, the actor felt deeply grateful and "proud" of him. Gates also provided Trejo with some vital information about his family on his mother's side. Josefa Garcia, his maternal grandmother, moved to the US from Mexico in 1904, going on to become an American citizen.



 

She was born on a ranch located in San José del Cabo, a popular tourist spot in Mexico's Baja California area. His fourth great-grandfather was granted a huge 4337 acres of land, which is how he started the ranch. Trejo had visited Cabo before and always felt a special sense of love towards the place. The actor is very happy to have known that his ancestors owned such vast stretches of land in Cabo San Lucas. The actor said, "I think it's shined a light on who I am, where I come from, and who I come from. I'm proud of the whole deal."

Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 16, 2024. It has since been updated.

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