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UVa-Wise professor to appear on NBC’s 'Who Do You Think You Are?' on April 8

Brian McKnight, associate professor of history at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is featured in an upcoming episode of the NBC show “Who Do You Think You Are?” focusing on the family history of actress and Kentucky native Ashley Judd.

McKnight’s research of Judd’s ancestry is highlighted in the popular show. McKnight appears on camera with Judd as he divulges details of her family history in scenes filmed in Kentucky and in Saltville, Va. Details of his research and the entire subject matter are kept secret pending the airing of the episode, which is seen at 8 p.m. on Fridays on WCYB. The exact date of the Judd episode has not been announced, it is likely to air on April 8.

UVa-Wise student Sarah Mullins served as a production assistant during the filming in Saltville and in Washington County. She quickly became the “go to” person on the set because of her familiarity with Washington County, Saltville and the surrounding area. Mullins spent a lot of time getting sandwiches and food for the crew and rounding up needed items, not an easy task in a rural town with a limited retail market. Doing Judd’s laundry one was also on her agenda.

McKnight’s comprehensive research skills and his ability to explain the compelling aspects of Judd’s ancestor were his contributions to the production.

“They contacted me in October to do research for them, but they would just send material they received from the Library of Congress and other places,” McKnight said. “I had no idea which celebrity’s family I was researching.”

The show’s producers later revealed that the subject of the documentary was Ashley Judd’s ancestor. He soon met Judd and spent several days on the project.

“She was really interested in the history,” he said. “She is a very bright person.’

"Who Do You Think You Are?" follows celebrities as they trace their family trees. The celebrities featured in the second season are Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd. The McGraw episode was also filmed locally as McGraw visited the Southwest Virginia Museum in Big Stone Gap.