Kenan's Mom on 'Kenan' Played This Iconic Character in 'Coming to America'

Gina Vaynshteyn - Author

Apr. 13 2021, Updated 10:13 p.m. ET

Kenan show mom
Source: NBC

In April 6's episode of Kenan Thompson's new sitcom Kenan, Kenan's mom, Bobbi, shows up. The episode, aptly titled "Kenan's Mom," shows Kenan vying for her attention, as she clearly has developed a whole life of her own outside her children. She's got a whole new look, has been working out, and looks "10 years younger," according to the fam. But Kenan isn't so sure how he feels about his mom's glow-up.

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Who's Kenan's mom on 'Kenan'?

The mom on Kenan is played by Vanessa Bell Calloway, who's been in countless TV shows and films over the years. She's especially known for her role as Imani Izzi in Coming to America (the princess who was betrothed to Akeem and unfortunately a little too agreeable), but you probably saw her in shows like Shameless, Grey's Anatomy, Hawthorne, Dexter, and many others.

vanessa bell calloway
Source: Instagram
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Vanessa first announced her involvement on Kenan on Instagram back in February. She wrote, "Did you hear the news @kenanthompson announced on @FallonTonight?! I'll be playing his mom on his new sitcom #Kenan, coming to @NBC on Feb. 16 at 8:30/7:30c! I’m really #excited and he’s so #funny and super #sweet! You’re gonna love this show!!!!"

kenan and his mom
Source: Instagram
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A few days ago, she shared a still from the episode, and wrote, "Please check me out in @nbc newest hit show #Kenan It was such an honor and please to work with @kenanthompson @donjohnson @chrisreddis @iamkimrie @missdanilockett @dannahlockett If you haven’t seen this show yet [you're] gonna LOVE IT!!!!"

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Who's Kenan's real mom?

Kenan's real mom is Elizabeth Ann Thompson, and she and the SNL star are very close. Recently, when James Corden asked how he turned out so normal, and Kenan said that his mom was very strict with him: "My momma don't play that. That's the easiest way I can sum that up. I am very close to my family you know and my mother was very strict on education and manners and things like that. She kept a sharp eye on the old boy." Elizabeth possibly works as a CRNA (a nurse anesthetist).

It's not totally clear, but Elizabeth's friend and colleague may have promoted Kenan's show with a little shoutout to his mom: "Love a special CRNA Mom, Elizabeth Ann Thompson who raised a talented son, regularly featured longest-tenured cast member on Saturday Night Live! Kenan Thompson has a new televised show program, Kenan. Check out his new show, Kenan  ~ February 16 on NBC!"

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He also shared that his mom would often drive from Atlanta (where his family moved to when he was just 9 months old) to Los Angeles to visit him. "She's a dedicated parent, I love her dearly," Kenan said in the interview. Unfortunately, there aren't any photos we can find of his mom online.

It's unclear whether Kenan based his show mom on his real mom, but both sound pretty fabulous.

Watch new episodes of Kenan every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. EST on NBC.

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