Is Retta Related to Ginuwine? The Truth Behind the Rumor

Retta, the stand-up comedian and actress who played Donna Meagle on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, has been rumored to be related to Ginuwine, the R&B singer and songwriter who has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. But is there any truth to this claim? Here’s what we found out.

Who is Retta?

Retta, whose full name is Marietta Sangai Sirleaf, was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1970. She is of Liberian descent and her aunt is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia. Retta graduated from Duke University with a degree in sociology and worked as a chemist before pursuing a career in comedy. She started doing stand-up in 1996 and toured on the college circuit. She has appeared on shows like The Soup, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Good Girls. She is best known for her role as Donna Meagle on Parks and Recreation, a sassy and confident employee of the Pawnee Parks Department.

Who is Ginuwine?

Ginuwine, whose real name is Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, was born in Washington, D.C., in 1970. He is of African-American and Native American descent. He started his music career as a member of the group Swing Mob in the early 1990s. He later signed with Epic Records and released his debut album Ginuwine…the Bachelor in 1996, which featured the hit single “Pony”. He has since released eight more albums and collaborated with artists like Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Aaliyah, R. Kelly, and Snoop Dogg. He is also known for his acting roles in films like The Bachelor, Juwanna Mann, and Chocolate City.

The rumor that Retta and Ginuwine are related stems from an episode of Parks and Recreation that aired in 2014. In the episode, titled “Gin It Up!”, Donna reveals that Ginuwine is her cousin and that he will perform at her cousin’s funeral. However, this was not based on any factual information, but rather on a joke by the show’s creator Mike Schur. Schur said in an interview that he wrote the episode because he thought it would be funny and plausible that Retta and Ginuwine were actually cousins.

Her aunt was the President of Liberia, she sings opera, she loves hockey… Retta’s a human onion,” Schur said. “We wrote an episode where it’s revealed that Ginuwine is her cousin, in part because we realized that it would not shock us at all to find out that Ginuwine is Retta’s actual cousin.”

In reality, Retta and Ginuwine are not related by blood or marriage. They have different last names (Sirleaf and Lumpkin) and different ethnic backgrounds (Liberian and African-American/Native American). They have never met in person or worked together professionally. They are simply two celebrities who happen to share a similar first name (Retta and Elgin).


Retta and Ginuwine are not related to each other. The rumor that they are cousins was started by a fictional storyline on Parks and Recreation that was meant to be humorous and surprising. Retta and Ginuwine are both successful entertainers in their own right, but they have no family connection whatsoever.

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