A DNA test taken by the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2014) stated that Angela’s genetic ancestry is: 78% African, 21% European, 0.6% Native American. The DNA test stated that much of Angela’s African DNA was from Nigeria, with small parts from Benin and Togo, Cameroon and Congo, Mali, southeastern Bantu (Angola), Ivory Coast and Ghana, Senegal, and the South Central hunter-gatherers. Much of her European DNA was from Great Britain.
Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958, in New York City, New York, the United States, to Betty Jane and Daniel Benjamin Bassett. Her father was an electrician and her mother worked as a nurse's aide. Bassett's middle name was given to her in honor of her aunt Evelyn.
After her mother got pregnant again when she was only 10 months old, her parents sent her to Winston-Salem to live with her father's sister, Aunt Golden. Her parents separated soon after, and her mother took her and her younger sister, D'nette, to St. Petersburg, Florida, to live with her grandparents.