Danny Trejo on Ancestry and the Almighty: ‘I’m Just Overwhelmed’

Photo from DannyTrejo’s Instagram

Danny Trejo on Ancestry and the Almighty: ‘I’m Just Overwhelmed’

By Allen Rushing 

In a recent discovery regarding his ancestry, actor Danny Trejo, expressed gratitude for the gift of a PBS “Finding Your Roots” heritage hunt. 

Chrissy Callahan, in a January 24, 2023 article, reported: 

[W]hen the actor made a surprising discovery about his family’s ancestry during the Jan. 23 episode of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots,” he couldn’t help but wonder how it might have affected the trajectory of his life. 

Speaking to host Henry Louis Gates Jr., the 78-year-old says he was raised in Los Angeles surrounded by what he describes as toxic machismo. As a kid, he felt like his career options were pretty limited. 

“The biggest problem that I had growing up was that in my family, all the men did kind of construction work and they were always complaining about their work. And they were always angry,” he tells the show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr. 

Trejo said that he was drawn to an uncle who he said was, “for lack of a better word a drug dealer” but was also “never complained”. He went on to reiterate his thankfulness at the revelation of his roots.  

“I’m just overwhelmed. You have to understand, growing up, I had three alternatives. I could either be a laborer or a gangster or an informant,” he says. “So to learn this, I honestly believe that I think this history could’ve changed my whole family’s life.” 

Trejo is an actor best known for his roles in graphic action adventure films such as Desperado and Machete, but who also is outspoken as a man of faith. In his book, Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood, he makes this clear.  

Movieguide® previously reported:

“In that cell God killed the old me, made a new Danny Trejo, and said, ‘Now let’s see what you do with him.’”

Trejo didn’t plan to walk free. He certainly didn’t plan to make it in Hollywood.

“I said inmate because I never thought I was getting out of prison,” Trejo said.

NBC News reports that the charges against Trejo were suddenly dropped, and Trejo found himself having to make good on that vow.

“By the grace of God, on August 23, 1969, they let me out. I kept my deal. I say His name 20 times a day, and I help wherever I can,” Trejo said.

“I made a deal with God,” actor Danny Trejo recalled of his time in prison. “I asked Him to let me die with dignity. Then I promised to always say His name and help my fellow inmates.” 

“Jesus is everything,” Trejo said. “I’m always asked how I’ve accomplished what I’ve accomplished [considering] where I came from, and only an idiot would deny that it was an act of God that brought me … from on my way to a gas chamber to where I’m at now.” 

Whatever Trejo’s past and family background may be, it is uplifting to see an actor not allowing his past, present, or others define him, but instead defining himself as one who is in Christ.  

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