Keke Palmer learned to give back to her community from her parents Sharon and Larry Palmer
Throughout the different chapters of her career, Keke Palmer has always been able to count on two important people — her parents, Sharon and Lawrence "Larry" Palmer.
Keke’s parents have been with her from the beginning, uprooting their family from their home in the Chicago suburbs all the way to Hollywood to support her dreams. Most importantly, they’ve always made sure Keke stays rooted in her community and uses her fame for good.
“My parents always told me that me being an entertainer could never just solely be about me entertaining,” she told Essence in 2023. “It had to also be about finding a way to connect things back to my community — so that other people could dream, and they could know that their dreams could come true, too.”
From her childhood star days to navigating motherhood, Keke has stayed true to herself thanks to her mom and dad's guidance. Most recently, Sharon has also spoken out on her daughter's behalf when Keke filed for a domestic violence restraining order against ex-boyfriend Darius Jackson.
So who are Keke Palmer’s parents? Here's everything to know about Sharon and Larry Palmer and their relationship with the actress.
They met in drama school and have four kids
Sharon and Larry first met while in drama school and worked as amateur actors, though they shifted their careers to find jobs that provided for their family.
The couple welcomed their first child, Claim to Fame winner Loreal Palmer, in 1989 before welcoming Keke in 1993. While raising their kids in Illinois, Sharon was a teacher, and Larry worked for a polyurethane company.
According to Keke, her mother and father married young after dating for a year. "My parents got married at 20 and 24, they are still so deeply in love," she wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Several years later, in 2000, Sharon and Larry had twins — Lawrence and Lawrencia Palmer — continuing a family trait as both are ones themselves.
Sharon is Keke’s manager
When Keke began asking her parents to move to L.A. to pursue acting, Sharon and Larry relented and relocated their family — but not only so she could live out their dreams.
Sharon, who has been Keke’s manager ever since she started acting, said in a 2021 Today interview that she hoped the opportunity could provide more financial security for her daughter after growing up in a low-income home.
“I did it so she could go to college,” she said. “I never expected any of this. I didn't do it for money or fame. It was college. I wanted her to go to college. I wanted my kids to go to college. And I wanted them to have a better life.”
While Sharon’s wish for Keke to have a better life came true, it also brought on the added stress of her daughter becoming the family’s primary breadwinner. The mother of four understood they had a unique dynamic and supported her through tough times, even offering her the chance to walk away from the spotlight, but Keke was determined to keep going.
"We respect each other. I respect that this is her career, so I know my role," Sharon explained about their work relationship.
Larry is a deacon and influenced Keke’s spiritual journey
Keke’s dad Larry was appointed as a deacon — an ordained minister who ranks below a priest — when she was young. In an Instagram post reflecting on that period, the Nope star revealed that she didn't always enjoy spending time in church as a child, though she’s grateful for it now.
“I loved and hated it growing up because I barely understood the word. Now I hold those memories so dearly and realize how that foundation has helped me tremendously throughout my life,” she captioned an old photo of her and her family at church.
Although she eventually found her own spiritual path, Keke said in a 2017 interview with Vibe magazine that it was hard at first, given Larry’s devotion and her upbringing. As she got older, she didn’t know if her father’s religion was also best for her — and Larry gave her space to figure that out for herself.
“His main concern for me was just that he wanted me to seek a relationship with my higher being, whether it was his or something else, didn’t matter,” Keke said. “It took years for me to see him, to recognize what that means — what God is.”
They taught her to give back to her community
As Keke’s career soared, Sharon and Larry made sure their daughter always knew where she came from and encouraged her to continue helping others.
Keke started doing community service at a young age “because they wanted to make sure I would never forget how much that mattered,” she told Essence.
Sharon remembers this time and how Larry wanted her to be aware that she might have to use her voice to help others throughout her career — like activists and celebrities like Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Muhammad Ali once did.
“So from the beginning, we would take her to do events with the NAACP, the MLK Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club,” Sharon told the outlet. “The goal was to keep her rooted in the community — to make sure she learned that a good life is a life of service and when much is given, there is a responsibility to give back in return.”
Sharon and Larry once surprised Keke on live TV
Back when Keke co-hosted the talk show Strahan, Sara & Keke in 2019, her co-hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines celebrated her birthday with special appearances from her family. Among them were Sharon and Larry, who surprised her on the then-third hour of Good Morning America.
“I just think this is great, I’m so proud of her,” Larry said. “I just want her to continue to do what she does, be herself, and inspire people.”
The two also brought along Keke’s twin siblings and her best friend Jessica, leading to many laughs and tears as the parents told stories from the star’s childhood.
Keke celebrates Sharon and Larry with sweet messages on Instagram
Keke has a close and special relationship with her parents, and she rarely misses an opportunity to praise them — especially on their birthdays.
“Happy Birthday mommy, my Virgo Goddess @shayladavis135! If I wrote in words the language of my love for you I would be writing until the day I died,” Keke wrote on Instagram in 2021, alongside photos of them through the years.
The True Jackson, VP alum continued, “There is no way I can explain my love for you! What you have done for me can never be explained only lived, such as the word of God … You are my greatest love! Always and forever mommy.”
She was similarly effusive about her dad, who she called her twin and “the best daddy in the world.”
“I am always so happy when someone tells me ‘you look just like your dad’ because you are just so cute to me,” she captioned a throwback picture of him. “You’re so funny and you’re so kind. You are a very strong person and I admire you for always being able to do the right thing."
“Responsibility and sacrifice come easy to you and you do it all through a smile and quick witted humor. You’re just cool, the epitome of everything I’d like to be,” she concluded.
Sharon is always supportive of Keke
As her manager, Sharon has Keke's best interests at heart and the same is true off-screen. In November 2023, the Hustlers' star filed for and was granted a temporary restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, Darius, for alleged domestic abuse and requested sole custody of their son.
According to court documents, Sharon is listed as a witness who can corroborate allegations of abuse. The same day of the filing, she posted a since-deleted Instagram video and defended her daughter in the caption.
“I dare you [to] mess with my family. Family means everything to me! ... You are phony!” her message read in part. "I saw you from day one. My daughter is kind and our family treated you with kindness, and this is how you treat it. I won’t take this laying down anymore. I’M DONE!”
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