Perhaps Christopher Meloni, 62, is the internet’s favorite “zaddy,” but he’s also a real-life dad, caring for two adult children, Sophia, 22, and Dante, 19, whom he shares with his wife Sherman Williams, 63, a production designer. The pair originally met on the set of a TV show in 1989, as Christopher had just begun pursuing an acting career and Sherman was working as a production designer. The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star once described the HBO series as “immensely forgettable,” but recalled Sherman as the opposite. “This I gotta meet,” Christopher went on about his now-wife.
After spending years together and eventually marrying in 1995, the couple welcomed a daughter, Sophia, in 2001 and a son, Dante, in 2004. After spending years going back and forth between the east and west coasts, the family ultimately decided on raising their two children in the Big Apple. Sherman then put her design skills to work by crafting an ideal home for her brood, raising her two kids in a beautiful living space profiled by Architectural Digest in 2017.
Most recently, in Oct. 2022, Chris opened up about what his wife and kids think about him being called a “Zaddy” online, per PEOPLE. “It’s a second act to a certain degree,” he said of the social media nickname. “It’s a gas. It’s fun. I don’t know, has anyone else been crowned Zaddy? Once it’s bestowed upon you, you have to just ride that horse as long as you can.” As for what his spouse and kids think, they too, find the fun in it. “My wife, she’s lovely, she gets it. Meaning she’s like, ‘Eh, whatever.’ My kids, on the other hand, invariably once a month, it’s ‘Really? Really?’” he said at the time. “Their friends will send them a meme that’s come out or whatever.”
Find out more about his two children and his parenting style, how he’s focused on “empowering” his kids throughout the years!
Sophia was born on March 23, 2001 and although her TV star father likes to keep their family dealings pretty low key, he has brought her along to a few red carpet events over the years, such the 2021 Golden Globes. While little is known about Sophia’s personal and professional life, one thing is clear: She’s an activist who uses her platform of nearly 20,000 Instagram followers to get her messages across.
In her bio, she advocates for “The Big One”, which is a plan to gather 100,000 people to protest the outside of the Houses of Parliament. The goal is to let the government know that people want change when it comes to climate change policies. While Sophia is certainly serious about climate change action, she shows off her carefree side and tidbits of her life at home with her famous father, such as these series of shots she posted In May 2020, at the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sophia also cracked up her followers — and fans of her dad — when she provided what Christopher deemed the “#BestGiftEver” on Instagram for Father’s Day in 2021. Sophia gave Chris a framed picture involving a tweet writer Rebecca Makkai posted in June 2021 asking users to comment with their “best celebrity sighting.” Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz then responded by noting how he spotted Christopher out with his two children in NYC. “I saw Chris Meloni, one of the toughest tough guys on television, failing to control two toddlers at a brunch at Columbus Circle circa 2007,” he hilariously recalled. Sophia then framed the tweet, adding a picture of she and sibling Dante to remind her dad of their earlier days! #BestGiftEver indeed!
Dante, born on Jan. 2, 2004, is the couple’s youngest child and only son. Although the 19-year-old isn’t on social media like his sister, his dad shares some behind-the-scenes shots from time to time of the pair spending time together. Chris seemingly has a trusting and open relationship with his son, as he explained in a 2014 interview with Advocate that he raised his children in an LGBTQ-inclusive and socially aware household. After NFL player Michael Sam came out, Christopher talked about discussing the event with his teen, who was 10 at the time. “I told him, ‘That’s a real man. That’s a guy with courage’,” he said.
He continued, “I think that’s the kind of example … that’s going to push us forward. For more people to say, ‘I don’t want to carry this silly burden anymore, this silly secret, let’s move on. It’s not the focal point of who I am.’”
Christopher described his style of parenting in a 2014 chat with USA Today. “I think my kids would call me a little crazy. I’m very physical, very affectionate. I’m also very disciplined and focused on education. That’s one thing that was instilled in me, one place in life where there’s no compromise,” he explained. “What works for me is empowering my kids. I remember not having any power when I was growing up. Power helps kids mature, and it requires critical thinking on their part. They feel engaged in a decision, which makes them feel engaged in the family process.”
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