Get to know the 'That’s So Raven' star’s parents, Lydia Gaulden and Christopher Pearman
Lydia Gaulden and Christopher Pearman are the proud parents of Raven Symoné.
Symoné is best known for playing Raven Baxter on Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven, but the star has been acting and modeling since she was a toddler. Gaulden and Pearman welcomed Symoné in December 1985 and were supportive of her acting dream from the very beginning.
During an interview with NPR in June 2010, Pearman said Symoné first mentioned wanting to be an actress at 2 years old while they were watching The Cosby Show.
“I saw the seriousness in her eyes and then giving her the understanding [of] what it would take, and she agreed to what it would take,” he said. “And then I thought that the next logical step was, well, I'm going to take you to the top agency in Atlanta. If they saw something there, then that would clearly be a sign for us to continue to move forward to help you achieve that dream. So we took her to the Lejohns(ph) Agency and they signed her that day.”
Growing up in the spotlight as a child star is difficult, but Symoné credits her parents as one of the reasons why she didn’t appear in the tabloids.
“My parents taught me to keep my private life private to the best of my ability,” she told Oprah Winfrey in an October 2014 interview. “They showed me all the role models out there that I could turn into and what I want for myself in the future.”
Here’s everything to know about Raven-Symoné’s parents, Lydia Gaulden and Christopher Pearman.
They have two children together
Gaulden and Pearman are parents to two children. They welcomed Symoné on Dec. 10, 1985, and six years later, they expanded their family with son Blaize Pearman.
During an episode of the Howie Mandel Does Stuff podcast in May 2023, the actress revealed that her brother is “not in the business” like her, but previously worked behind the scenes as a production assistant.
Pearman works in media
Pearman has had a long career in the media industry. He attended Georgia State University before starting a career in public relations and advertising, according to Voyage Atlanta.
He then worked in the Atlanta nightclub industry for years, later transitioning into directing and producing. Pearman directed a few episodes of That’s So Raven in the early 2000s and was the creator and director of the musical The Destiny of Rose.
Pearman is also a motivational speaker and author. In 2010, he released a book called Dream So Big: A Parents Guide to Helping Your Child Believe and Achieve.
Pearman is Symoné’s former manager
Symoné has been acting since she was 3 years old, and Pearman was her manager in the early days of her career. In a June 2010 interview with NPR, Pearman said he had stopped managing his daughter’s career a few years beforehand and that it was important for her to “be able to take the reins.”
“She got to a point, you know, she said, 'Daddy, I can run my own company. I can run my own thing' a few years ago,” he said. “And I'm like, 'You know, you have the tools.' ”
When asked whether he was hurt that Symoné wanted to manage her own career, Pearman shared, “No, absolutely not. I've been managing that girl’s career since she was six months old. It's just like you having a child and saying, you know, I'm ready to go to college and do my own thing and move out the house. You know, it's like okay, go ahead.”
They taught Symoné to manage her money
Speaking with Howie Mandel on his podcast, Howie Mandel Does Stuff, Symoné credited her parents for teaching her how to manage her money. Though the actress revealed that she made millions on The Cosby Show, she “didn’t really understand how much money” was in her bank account because her parents wanted her to save.
“I know that there’s money, but it’s not that I’m living in that type of tax bracket on an everyday basis. I’m actually living below my means because it’s about saving for our family. It’s not necessarily living at the highest point of whatever you’re making,” she said. “My parents didn’t really come from money. My mom came from Louisiana, and my dad came from Atlanta … I learned how to save.”
Symoné also shared that even now, she makes it a point to save money before taking a vacation, which was surprising to her business manager.
“That’s just how I was taught,” she said. “Save your money, and you don’t need to spend just because you have it because you got kids that come later, you got taxes, and you never know as an actor when you’re going to have a job, so you have to make sure you’re investing properly.”
Gaulden encouraged Symoné to get an education
Symoné had massive success as an actress and singer from a young age, but Gaulden also encouraged her to get an education. The Cheetah Girls star attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, where she studied fine arts.
During an appearance on the Brotherly Love Podcast in August 2023, Symoné shared that her mom was “big on education,” and she’s grateful to have another job to fall back on when acting roles aren’t as prevalent.
“Our job is so finite and small and thin, you know, so you have to have something to come back on,” she said. “I went to college for art, and like, right now, not working, what am I doing? I’m in my studio making a whole bunch of art. Like, okay, no matter what happens, I’m gonna sell it. You know what I mean. I got a backup plan.”
Symoné came out to Gaulden and Pearman while in college
Symoné came out publicly in 2013 but had told her parents privately beforehand. In an "It Gets Better" video released in 2016, the actress said she knew she was gay at age 12 but kept it to herself because of her on-screen persona.
"I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn't matter," she said in the video. "It was only supposed to be sold as, you know, the Raven-Symoné brand."
While attending college, Symoné fell in love with her ex-partner, model AzMarie Livingston, and decided to come out to her parents. While the actress said Gaulden was “still working with it” and initially thought it was a phase, Pearman told her he “had a feeling” she was gay.
They keep their family relationships private
Symoné is protective of her relationship with her parents, and not much information is known about their family dynamics. When Mandel asked the actress on the Howie Mandel Does Stuff podcast whether her parents were still together, she said, “We don’t talk about personal business.”
However, Symoné did open up a little bit about her complex relationship with her parents. She mentioned that she talks to them regularly but alluded to some strain when Mandel asked whether they were accepting of her.
“My parents, it’s a journey,” she said. “I normally don’t talk about them that much because we like to keep our personal situation, but just on an overall, not all parents are accepting of everything.”
Symoné added, “They did a lot of things right. I learned a lot of things from them that I wouldn’t have learned from anybody else. I’m not negating that at all, and just like with everybody else, you can have the most perfect adult raising a child, and the child is always going to find things that are wrong because nobody’s perfect.”
They were protective of Symoné’s public image
Gaulden and Pearman were protective of their daughter’s public image and encouraged her to have everyone she dated sign NDAs. Symoné opened up to Mandel on the Howie Mandel Does Stuff podcast about how even her wife, Miranda Pearman-Maday, was asked to sign one.
“All of my relationships, especially, obviously, when I started dating, I had to get people to sign NDAs,” she said, adding, “It took me a while to wrap my head around it because it’s very impersonal, but someone in our position needs to do that."
While the actress said she was hesitant to ask Pearman-Maday to sign an NDA because she “knew something was different” about her, Gaulden urged her to complete the paperwork.
"We were in New York. We were in this outdoor French type of restaurant, and my mom had been bugging me,” Symoné said. "She was like, ‘You got to get it signed.’ I'm like, ‘She's from the industry.’ And my mom was bugging me."
Pearman-Maday was reluctant to sign but ultimately “did it” for Symoné. “We both were like, ‘This takes away the genuineness of it all, but we also understood that we live in Hollywood,'" the actress said.
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