Shannon LaNier biography: 13 things about Thomas Jefferson’s descendant

Shannon LaNier is an author, television host, actor and social media influencer. He is a sixth great-grandson of third United States president Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings.

LaNier was 32 years old when he was featured in the July 2020 edition of the Smithsonian Magazine. Photographed by Drew Gardner, he wore the same outfit as Jefferson but chose not to wear a wig to match his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s hair.

“I didn’t want to become Jefferson,” LaNier told the magazine. “My ancestor had his dreams and now it’s up to all of us living in America today to make sure no one is excluded from the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Based in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, LaNier and his wife Chandra LaNier have three children namely Madison LaNier, McKenzie LaNier and Carter LaNier. Here are 13 more facts about Shannon:


  1. As a teenager, he got his first TV job on “Real Exchange.”
  2. From 1999 to 2003, he attended Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA where he earned his master’s degree in media management and electronic media production.
  3. He and photojournalist Jane Feldman co-authored the book “Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family,” which the Random House Inc. published in 2001.
  4. From 2004 to 2007, he worked for CBS News as a segment producer for “CBS2 Morning Show.”
  5. From June 2009 to August 2010, he was a TV news reporter for RNN-TV.
  6. From March 2007 to June 2013, he was a national TV correspondent for Black Enterprise.
  7. In April 2013, he joined the ARISE News show “Arise Entertainment 360” as a host.
  8. In 2016, he returned to RNN-TV.
  9. He played Dr. Gregory in “Makeup X Breakup” Season 1 episode 9, which was released on January 4, 2017.
  10. He played himself in the drama film “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness,” which was released on March 30, 2018.
  11. In October 2018, he joined CW39 as an anchor of the morning show “Morning Dose.”
  12. He is an active member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists.
  13. He hosts a podcast titled “Daddy Duty 365.”

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