Robert De Niro has six children from previous relationships

By Alexia Fernandez
June 11, 2020 07:13 PM
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Robert De Niro
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Robert De Niro is opening up about raising his six biracial kids.

The actor, 76, spoke about his family on Wednesday night while making a virtual appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"My children are all half black and I don't have, even me, I take certain things for granted," De Niro admitted, referring to having more opportunities as a white man. "When people say that they tell their kids, 'Keep your hands [out] when you're stopped by any cops, keep your hands on the steering wheel, don't make a sudden move, don't put your hands below, don't do this,' you understand that."

He added, "That's scary. That has to change."

"Anybody who hurts another person for no reason other than self-defense or the defense of other people around shouldn't be doing that job," De Niro said, referring to police brutality that has been denounced in several protests across the country after George Floyd's death.

De Niro has a daughter, Drena, 48, and son, Raphael, 44, with his ex-wife Diahnne Abbott. He has twin sons, Julian and Aaron, 24, with his ex, Toukie Smith; and son Elliot, 22, and daughter, Helen, 8, with his ex-wife Grace Hightower.

In January, De Niro spoke to PEOPLE about how he has parented his children in the limelight and whether they feel pressured to follow in his footsteps.

“For my kids, I tell them, ‘If you want to be an actor or you want to do this or that, that’s fine as long as you’re happy,” De Niro said at the time. “Just don’t sell yourself short. That’s the most I would say — push yourself a little more and reach for what you really think it is you want to do. Don’t be afraid.”

He added, “It’s important for them to find their own lane."

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 from "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression," according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report released on June 1 that also ruled his death a homicide.

On Tuesday, a funeral service was held for Floyd in his hometown of Houston. He was mourned by friends, family and loved ones before being buried alongside his mother.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.