JET Daddy: Lil Rel
Black fathers. They do not get the respect they deserve in our society, though statistics show they are just as, or more, involved in their children’s lives as their counterparts from other racial backgrounds. But don’t just review the numbers, check out some of the dads JET is profiling in what we hope to become a recurring feature: JET Daddy. We are looking for pops that live for their kids and vice versa.
Few men live for their kids quite like comedian and actor Lil Rel. While the Hollywood funny man and star of “The Carmichael Show” enjoys keeping the laughs coming, he makes it quite clear that for him, nothing compares to the joy of being a dad.
Name: Lil Rel Howery
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Number of children: 2
Kids(s) Name(s), Age(s): Brittni Howery, 7, and Judah Howery, 6
JET: What does fatherhood mean to you?
Lil Rel: A lot. First of all, I love being a dad. I think it’s amazing to see these two little people — people you created — become their own people. I play my part by watching their personalities develop, watching their relationships develop and I’m naturally a people watcher, so, me watching my kids is like the ultimate people watching assignment. But fatherhood is just amazing. I really don’t know what else I could be doing right now as a person without being a father.
JET: You’re one of the funniest men in Hollywood. Does that translate into your parenting style? Are you the funny dad or the disciplinarian?
Lil Rel: I think I’m in the middle. I have my “Aye, be quiets!,” but we also laugh a lot. And I think one of my favorite things is to hear my daughter laugh. When she laughs, she just be dying laughing. And after she laughs, she’ll say, “You’re hilarious daddy!” So it’s a mixture but we laugh a lot. Between me and my son — who’s way more funnier than me — it’s just a lot of laughter.
JET: Your kids are proudly displayed all over your social media accounts & you discuss them frequently in your routines. Why is it important for you to showcase your family & your role as a dad?
Lil Rel: I want other dads — young dads — whoever to see what it looks like; to see that this is a dope part of your life. It’s OK to be a father. You know, if you go into a club and pop bottles and do all of that stuff, I mean, that’s what it is, but there’s still nothing more dope than being a dad. That’s what I want to show. I try my best to have my kids participate in everything and let them understand my job. They open up my special. I just love displaying fatherhood, I think we need that. Everyone says “[Today’s] teenagers are bad,” and all of this other stuff. Well, we’re dealing with a group that didn’t really have a lot of dads in the home. And this is the result of it, so I just want to display fatherhood. It’s just time in for Black dads to step up and show excitement about being a dad.
JET: What about your kids inspires you the most?
Lil Rel: I’ll tell you a funny story. I picked the kids up one day when I was in Chicago. We were having fun, we were at dinner, we do whatever; that’s just what we do. And when I went to drop them off, Brittni said “Oh Daddy, I forgot to give you something.” It wasn’t my birthday, it wasn’t Father’s Day, but she gave me this card she made in her class that said “Daddy, I’m so proud of you. You are living your dream. You are making your dreams come true. Love you Daddy, and I’m proud of you!” And that’s all it said, but I had to let her get out of the car so I could keep from boo-hooing in front of her. When your kids see what you’re doing and that inspires them, that inspires you. It makes me want to work harder when I know that they know what I’m doing.
JET: You’re from Chicago, so you were raised with those hardworking, Midwestern values. How do you pass those values on to your kids when they’re being raised as the children of a celebrity? Is that hard?
Lil Rel: No, because that’s what family is for. You have to let them be around the cousins in the “hood,” because it gives them balance. I remember one day, their mom checking them after we shot the MTV show because Brittni was mad because Judah had more lines. She said “First of all, these other kids had to audition to be on the show. I just gave this to you. You’re not going to act like that.” So it is tough, but it’s not because we’re balanced people. My aunties are teaching the same values to my kids that they taught to me. That’s what keeps them balanced. I think we do a good job of just making sure that we don’t overindulge them. I can tell when it’s going too far; when they ask “Daddy, where’s the car service?” I’ll say “What?! We’re taking this taxi, no really, we are.” You know? Car service? Who are you talking to?!
JET: Is there anything else that’s important for readers to know about Lil’ Rel “the dad?”
Lil Rel: Being a father is the most important thing in my life and it’s the one thing in life that gives me balance. I think when I’m not doing dad stuff, that’s when anything can happen. Family is so big to me. And it was always one of my dreams. I was one of those weird kids. My homeboy was just telling me the other day “Rel, you wanted to be a father and a husband years ago, when we were like 12!” That’s because my pops was amazing and my uncle was amazing and I saw that. I just thought that was cool. Being a dad and a provider looked cool to me, so I always wanted to be a dad. When I was able to have those two, dope little miracles, man. That changed my life.
Catch Lil Rel on NBC’s “The Carmicheal Show” Sundays 9PM/8CST.