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Nick Cannon shoots down ‘deadbeat dad’ label: ‘I’ve been villainized’

The television host and actor revealed that he makes $100 million a year in order to provide for his children.
Nick Cannon in New York on Feb. 16, 2022.
Nick Cannon in New York on Feb. 16, 2022.Shahar Azran / Getty Images file
/ Source: TODAY

Nick Cannon wants to set the record straight when it comes to his most recent headline-grabbing role: a father to 12 children.

In a May 7 profile for the Los Angeles Times, the “Drumline” actor, comedian and television host set out to debunk narratives that he is a “deadbeat dad” attempting to launch a cult.

Cannon has 11 living children with six different women — Brittany Bell, Alyssa Scott, Abby De La Rosa, Bre Tiesi, LaNisha Cole and his ex-wife Mariah Carey. In 2021, Cannon and Scott announced that their son Zen died at five months from cancer.

“I’ve been villainized,” Cannon said of the conversation around his many children in the Los Angeles Times interview. “I hear all the time: ‘You can’t be present for all those children.’ So, therefore, I get this deadbeat dad title.”

During his conversation with the newspaper, Cannon admitted to having multiple romantic partners and not being a believer in monogamy. He was also straightforward about what it takes to feed the many mouths he helped make.

Cannon said he currently makes $100 million a year. To do this, the actor says holds down many gigs at a time, including hosting for shows “The Masked Singer,” “Wild ‘N Out,” “Beat Shazam,” and “Celebrity Prank Wars.”

Canon also recently wrapped filming the first season of an Amazon Freevee show called “Counsel Culture,” meant to be an all-male version of “The View,” the Los Angeles Times reports. He hosts the live morning radio show “The Daily Cannon” as well as the podcast “#2HateorNot2Hate.” He said he is also writing “an urban ‘Fifty Shades of Grey” novel. In the fall, his show “Future Superstar Tour” will premiere, and a movie he recently finished filming with Alec Baldwin titled “Hollywood Heist” will debut but has yet to receive a release date.

Cannon admitted that these jobs, coupled with his many children, can mean that he’s often spread thin when it comes to his ability to bond with them in a meaningful way. Still, he asserts that making time for each of his children and being present always is his priority.

“It’s not about what I do for you or what I say to you, it’s about how you feel when I’m with you,” he said of working to be truly present with his children whenever he is able to spend time with them. “If you feel loved when you see your dad, that’s what’s gonna resonate.”

“Right now, the narrative is, ‘He has a bunch of kids,’” the television host said of himself. “But I’m really at a place now where I don’t care what people know. I’d rather just operate. It’s more about really being a good person instead of telling people you’re a good person.”

This past February, Cannon told Entertainment Tonight that he felt ready to be done having kids, “God decides when we’re done, but I believe I definitely got my hands full, and I’m so focused. I’m locked in. But when I’m 85, you never know. I might.”

Still, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, Cannon’s “people-pleasing” tendencies have been the trait that has led him to the path of fathering so many children in the first place. According to Cannon, many of the women he co-parents with are in the “same age group” and, for a time, expressed the same concerns about missing their chance to have children because of their biological clocks.

“A lot of them are in the same age group,” he explained. “And I just wanted to give them what they desired. I kept saying, ‘I can handle it.’”