Karen Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence and Gary Lawrence at the New York premiere of ‘No Hard Feelings’ in June 2023
Jennifer Lawrence might be one of Hollywood’s most relatable celebrities, thanks to her down-to-earth parents, Karen and Gary Lawrence.
The Oscar winner was born in Louisville, Kentucky, where she was raised by her mom, who ran a day camp, and her dad, a construction company owner. The tight-knit family, including Jennifer’s older brothers Ben and Blaine, remain close and are often seen with the star at award shows, red-carpet premieres and more major career milestones.
Amid Jennifer’s rise in Hollywood, Karen and Gary made sure to stress that kindness and respect are more important than fame.
“Talent is nothing if you’re not a nice person,” Karen told WDRB in March 2013. “That’s just who she is. And that makes us proud of her more so than her talent.”
“When I go on set, the hair and makeup people always come to me and say she’s such a nice girl, so respectful,” Gary added. “And I kid her and say, ‘If I ever come and don’t hear that, we’ll have some real problems.’ But so far, so good.”
In response, The Hunger Games actress has said she’s “fortunate to have them.”
Here’s everything to know about Jennifer Lawrence’s parents, Karen and Gary Lawrence.
They met in Louisville
Gary Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence and Karen Lawrence at the film premiere party for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ in September
Both Karen and Gary were born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. The two attended the University of Louisville, where they met through Gary’s dad, who was the dean of students. Karen and Gary dated throughout college and later settled down in their hometown to start a family.
After retiring from their jobs, Karen and Gary also established the Lawrence Family Foundation, which focuses on funding programs for children in the Louisville area, including the arts and raising money for children with cancer.
“When I was growing up, it was always important for our family to give back. I was just raised that way,” Karen told StyleBlueprint in May 2019. “With Jennifer’s notoriety, we had a bigger platform to have more exposure and raise more money, meaning we had more money to share.”
Karen also serves as a board member for the Louisville Orchestra and the Kentucky Film Commission.
They have three kids
Jennifer Lawrence with her parents, Karen Lawrence and Gary Lawrence, and brothers, Ben Lawrence and Blaine Lawrence, at the Oscars Governors Ball in February
Karen and Gary have three kids: sons Ben and Blaine and daughter Jennifer — who was a surprise addition to the family.
“I didn’t realize why my nickname was Plays With Fire until I got older,” she joked in an April 2012 Rolling Stone interview. “But my parents played with fire, and they got burned.”
“We thought we were finished having kids,” Karen added. “We got rid of the baby bed and everything.”
Nowadays, Ben is a managing partner of Louisville Geek, an information technology company, according to his LinkedIn. Meanwhile, Blaine is the owner and director of Camp Hi-Ho after taking over the family business from his parents.
Karen and Gary are also grandparents to Jennifer’s son Cy, born in February 2022, with husband Cooke Maroney, plus Ben and Blaine’s kids.
Karen founded their family day camp
While Jennifer was growing up, Gary owned a local construction company, and Karen ran Camp Hi-Ho on the nearby family farm. The day camp was born from her wish to have a place where kids could play freely.
The camp offers sports — on land and in the camp’s lake — as well as horse riding, archery, arts and crafts and more. There’s also a pet barn on the premises where children can learn to care for animals — and even take one home. Puppies and kittens are up for adoption or available for sleepovers if a family isn’t ready to commit fully.
The rest of the Lawrence family often helped Karen out at the camp until Jennifer’s career took off and Blaine became the next owner. Sadly, part of the camp burned down in November 2020, prompting the Louisville community to come together.
Jennifer later expressed her gratitude for their support and reminisced on her childhood at the camp.
“I grew up on that farm, going to Camp Hi Ho every summer,” she said in a statement exclusively obtained by PEOPLE. “When my brother Blaine took it over, he applied his creative mind and fun loving spirit and expanded a camp that was already the coolest, because it was the only place where kids could do whatever they wanted. A muddy messy paradise.”
By the following summer in 2022, Camp Hi-Ho reopened bigger and better.
They raised Jennifer just like her two older brothers
Jennifer Lawrence and her brothers, Ben and Blaine, at the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards
Jennifer didn’t get special treatment for being the only girl in the family — not even when she was the first girl born into her dad’s family in 50 years. According to Karen, she wanted Jennifer to be “tough” and not “a diva.”
The Silver Linings Playbook star played basketball, softball and field hockey on a boys’ team coached by her father. Jennifer was also a cheerleader, but it wasn’t exactly her choice to pick up so many team sports, as her parents had a rule for their three kids. “We all had to be in sports,” she told NPR’s podcast. Fresh Air in December 2015.
Years later, she recalled her feelings about the group activities.
“I’ve always had anxiety about being in a herd,” she said in the same interview. “I just wanted to break free — be an individual. There’s something about team sports, classes, I didn’t take well to it. I didn’t like it. … I hated team sports.”
Karen moved to Manhattan with Jennifer to start her career
Jennifer Lawrence hugs her mother, Karen Lawrence, after winning the Best Actress award for “Silver Linings Playbook” during the 2013 Oscars
Karen lived with Jennifer in Manhattan for a year while the then-teenager auditioned for roles, and it wasn’t easy for the family to adjust to their initial entry into the entertainment industry.
“It might as well have been a different planet,” she told Rolling Stone in 2012. “Our friends thought we were nuts. We thought we were nuts. But [Jennifer’s] brothers told us, ‘This is her baseball diamond. You’ve gotta let her play.’ “
The opportunity arose after the family vacationed in the Big Apple and a scout discovered Jennifer. Eventually, Karen and Gary agreed, but not without hesitation.
“We thought she’d go to New York, and they’d say, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,’ ” Karen added. “If it wasn’t for her agent literally almost choking me, saying, ‘You don’t understand, I’ve never seen a 14-year-old like this,’ we might not have made it.”
They’ve appeared on several red carpets with Jennifer
While it might have been difficult initially, Karen and Gary continued supporting Jennifer’s acting dream. The duo later appeared on several red carpets with their daughter, most recently at the premiere of her comedy No Hard Feelings, and were by her side during most of The Hunger Games movie premieres.
The parents also accompanied Jennifer when she won Best Actress at the 2013 Oscars, with Karen calling it “a proud mom moment.”
“It was a great experience, and it was really cool that we got to do that. It was exciting,” she told StyleBlueprint a few years later in 2019.
Jennifer and Gary have clashed about politics
In a 2022 Vogue cover story, Jennifer opened up about the political clashes in her family following the 2016 election — a topic that was on her mind following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
The Red Sparrow star explained she has worked to mend her relationship with her dad and other loved ones in her hometown in the years since the controversial election, but still finds it hard to come to terms with the differences.
“I just worked so hard in the last five years to forgive my dad and my family and try to understand: It’s different. The information they are getting is different. Their life is different,” she said. “I don’t want to disparage my family, but I know that a lot of people are in a similar position with their families. How could you raise a daughter from birth and believe that she doesn’t deserve equality? How?”