Trailblazing journalist Elaine Welteroth discusses finding strength through ancestry

“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Those are only some of the powerful words planted in “More Than Enough,” a book by award-winning journalist Elaine Welteroth.

Before the days of her major book launch, Welteroth was formally the trailblazing editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue who shifted the magazine’s narrative to be more inclusive and a progressive force within the industry.

Since taking a leap of faith into her new ventures, she’s gone on to be a judge on “Project Runway” and continues to use her platforms to empower others.

Thinking back to the early days of writing her recently launched read, Welteroth explained to “Good Morning America” that it forced her to look back on her family’s history.

“As a journalist, as a storyteller, I’m interested in answers,” she said. “I’m interested in the truth. So I found myself seeking out answers and stories from my family members that I’d never had before.”

With this growing curiosity, it was a great time to dig deeper into her family’s past, and when she was approached by Ancestry.com for a partnership, it was the perfect opportunity to do just that through their services.

After beginning the process of tracing her family’s lineage, Welteroth recalls learning that her great grandmother’s parents were potentially slaves.

“That hit home,” she said. “It’s something I’m still processing, and it’s a really emotional experience.”

Welteroth also opened up about finding photos of her great-great-great-great-grandfather who looked like her, and was biracial like her.

“Looking at that picture just made me so curious about what his experience was like and how different it must be from mine,” she said.

The upside of Welteroth’s discoveries found through Ancestry is the strength that it gives her during trying times. In her memoir, she writes about feeling like she often carried the weight of the world when being faced with difficult decisions.

“There is no struggle, obstacle or sacrifice that compares to that of my ancestors. I think that puts my experience in context. Also, it reminds me of the extraordinary opportunity that comes with being the first,” she said.

“With that comes responsibility and opportunity,” she continued.

“So then when I do feel those moments of self-doubt or I feel overwhelmed or a sense of isolation, I just remember that when I walk into the room, I’m bringing all of my ancestors with me, and I’m bringing that charge that comes from their dreams that were deferred,” Welteroth added.

Welteroth credits a huge part of her success to her mother and other family members that have come before her and projects that learning about your past can lead to deeper levels of self-discovery as well as inspire newfound creativity.

“You are a product of the people who came before you and their experiences and their decisions,” says Welteroth. “Your ancestors’ decisions and their experiences kind of set us up for where we are and where we’re going.”

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