Keegan-Michael Key is an actor and comedian that you have seen in a number of sitcoms, comedy shows, and movies. He first made himself known in Hollywood when he became a series regular on “MADtv” and reached household-name status with his own sketch comedy show on Comedy Central “Key and Peele,” alongside Oscar-winner Jordan Peele. He most recently starred in Eddie Murphy’s critically-acclaimed Netflix comedy, “My Name is Dolemite.” If you watch TV or film, you know Keegan-Michael Key. What you may not know about, however, is his own personal connection with adoption.
Keegan-Michael Key was born in 1971 in Southfield, Michigan and raised in Detroit. He was adopted at birth by social workers, Michael Key and Patricia Walsh. He has explained that he was the product of an affair, leading to his adoption.
Key’s adoptive parents divorced when he was young. His adoptive dad later remarried, and he became very close with his stepmother. He maintained a very close relationship with his adoptive mom, as well, and his family ties remained strong even as he sought out his birth mother in his mid-twenties.
At age 25, Keegan-Michael Key had an emotional reunion with his biological mother. The now 48-year-old star jokingly told Comedian Pete Holmes in a podcast that he has “a lot of parents.”
Just like his costar and friend, Peele, Key was born to white mothers and African-American fathers. He was also adopted by a biracial couple. He once told NPR that he knows his birth mother. He said in the interview: “I know my biological mother quite well, and we have a wonderful, wonderful relationship. And I – it’s the exact same demographic. So my father has passed away. He was African-American. My mother is white. So I was adopted by a couple that was of a similar dynamic as my biological parents.”
When asked what it is like to meet and have a close relationship with his birth mother, he started by saying that he already had a sense of who he was before meeting her – his adoptive mother worked tirelessly to build up his self-esteem as a child. But when he found his biological mother, he explains that the experience “started to shed light and destroy my mythos.”
“For the first year of knowing her, my [birth] mom… visited me in Detroit and kind of gave me a tour of my life – where I was conceived, where I was born, where she found out she was pregnant. It was amazing… and very emotional.” He concluded by saying, “It’s a long, very personal story, but, you know, it’s been a really wonderful, revelatory story.”
While Key had aspirations of becoming a dramatic actor, his success in Hollywood as a comedic star has been, as he has called it, a “19-year detour.” Though classically trained in acting, he had some influence from his fraternity brothers at the University of Detroit Mercy before starting his career.
“I remember a brother taking the time to sit down and talk with me about what I wanted to do in college,” he told Varsity News. “I felt that he made an earnest connection with me. To me, that’s brotherhood.”
Speaking of brotherhood – In his adulthood, Keegan-Michael Key decided to learn more about his family genealogy. Through some research about his biological father, he discovered he had two half-brothers, both of whom passed away in their forties. To his surprise, one of these brothers was also famous—but in the comic-book world. He was writer of Justice League Unlimited, and creator of many superheroes.
Keegan Michael-Key has certainly had some whirlwind life experiences, both personally and professionally. His foundation with adoption and his loving relationships with all of his mothers – birth, adoptive, and even step – have helped mold him into the successful star that he is today.
Key is one of many celebrities who has been touched by adoption. He is living proof that families come in all shapes and sizes, and do not depend on DNA. Adoption has been a wonderful part of Keegan-Michael Key’s story, and he shares it with openness, honesty, and positivity.
If you would like to learn even more about the adoption process, reach out to Adoptions With Love. Our caring staff has been working with adoptive families and birth mothers since 1986. Whether you are considering placing your child for adoption, or want to grow your family through adoption, we can chat with you any time at 800-722-7731. You may also contact us online, or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.