Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Paul Walker's Daughter
November 4, 1998
Currently Known For:
Paul Walker's Daughter
November 4, 1998
“I’m glad I had her at 25, because at 40 and 15, we’re matching up sweet. It’s just working. It’s perfect.” Another tragic Hollywood ending of an actor gone far too soon, Paul Walker lost his life in a car accident in 2013 when he and his friend, Roger Rodas, were involved in a single car crash after leaving a charity event. Only 40 years old at the time, Walker left behind an incredible legacy with credits in She’s All That, Varsity Blues, and the hit franchise, The Fast and the Furious, costarring his longtime friend and fellow actor, Vin Diesel. He also left behind the light of his life—his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow Rain Walker.
Paul William Walker IV made his acting debut as a toddler when he starred in a Pampers television commercial. Modeling by the age of two, he went on to appear in television series like Highway to Heaven, Who’s the Boss?, and Touched By an Angel before he launched his film career in 1986 with Monster in the Closet. By the early 1990s, he joined The Young and the Restless and earned his first award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Soap Opera at the Youth in Film Awards. Despite his blossoming career, however, he had bigger dreams and attended several community colleges throughout Southern California to pursue his passion for marine biology.
Only acting to pay his college tuition, Walker’s talent as an actor and his incredible good looks were undeniable as he snagged supporting roles in Pleasantville, Varsity Blues, and She’s All That. During this time, he and his girlfriend at the time, Rebecca McBrain, received the shock of their lives when they learned they were pregnant. On November 4, 1998 and on the cusp of Walker’s Hollywood fame, Rebecca gave birth to their daughter—Meadow Rain Walker. Overjoyed by fatherhood, Walker took a small step back in his career saying, “Right now, there’s only time for her.”
Fortunately, Walker learned to manage fatherhood and the demands of Hollywood as Rebecca and Meadow left southern California and settled down in Hawaii for the next 13 years. Flying back and forth to see Meadow in between film projects, Walker built his reputation as one of the biggest heartthrobs on the silver screen when he joined Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious in 2001. The film put Walker on the map as a leading man as he reprised his role in 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003 and went on to star in Joy Ride, Timeline, Into the Blue, Flags of our Fathers, and Eight Below.
Amid his growing success as an actor, Walker spent as much time as possible with his daughter and even introduced her to the great outdoors at an early age. “I have a daughter and she’s been going on camping trips with me recently,” Walker told CosmoGirl in 2003. “It’s important to me that she experiences those things and grows while doing all that. I think sometimes it may be overwhelming for her because of who her daddy is and what he does. I hope it never gets to a bad level, but there’s a chance it will, and I just know that the only way to offset that would be to make the outdoors a key part of her life.”
For Walker, being in nature calmed him especially in contrast to the chaos of his career and life in the spotlight. “Being out in nature is a big part of why I am the way I am today,” he said. “I was really freaked out about becoming a dad. The whole thought of being a dad was scary to me. It’s kind of like that Creed song that says, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready / to be the man I have to be.’ Every day, you find yourself scratching your head going, ‘Wow, am I really? I guess I really am? I would imagine that even when I’m 40 and looking at her, I’ll still be going, ‘I’m a dad.’ It’s just pretty wild. I don’t think it’s anything you get fully used to, because I don’t think anybody thinks that they’re truly prepared or ready for that.”
For Walker, his role as a father changed even more in 2011 when he moved 13-year-old Meadow back to Hollywood after Rebecca’s battle with alcoholism spiraled out of control. The move marked a new chapter in Walker’s life as he told GQ. “My daughter now lives with me full time and my original plan was to work up until I was 40 and then reassess my life, even go in a complete different direction with things,” Walker said. “She keeps encouraging me to do all this stuff. I thought at this point in my life I would need to be home with her, but she wants me to keep acting so she can travel around the world with me. Would that be so bad? Thing is, I went to a born-again Christian high school, was brought up in a traditional Mormon family where these ideas about parenting are of structure and sacrifice. To think outside that idea of family and parenting that I’ve grown up with is tough, but also very freeing.”
With his daughter’s encouragement, Walker continued to act and appeared in Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. He was busy working on Furious 7, which was set to release in 2014, when he and his friend, Roger Rodas, were at a Reach Out Worldwide charity event to support the victims of Typhoon Yolanda on November 30, 2013. Leaving the event early, Rodas got behind the wheel of his Porsche Carrera GT as Walker jumped into the passenger seat. They drove through the neighborhood at high speeds between 80 and 93 miles per hour when the car crashed, killing Walker and Rodas on impact.
In the year following the actor’s death, Walker’s father sued the Rodas estate in a wrongful death claim as Meadow filed suit against Porsche in 2015. The court, however, ruled in favor of Porsche citing that Walker knew the perils of riding in a vehicle going at high speeds and was partly to blame for the outcome—not the car itself.
Putting all legal actions aside as she inherited her father’s $25 million estate, Meadow found a special way to honor her father’s legacy in 2015 when she launched the Paul Walker Foundation. “Reflecting on my father, I found myself reflecting on his passions. His passion for the ocean, his passion for rescuing animals, his passion for helping people, and his passion for spontaneous goodwill,” Meadow said at the launch. “I wanted to start this foundation because I want to share that piece of him with the world.”
In 2015, one of Walker’s favorite programs—the Monterey Bay Aquarium—presented the Paul Walker Ocean Leadership Award and Youth Award to its first student as a way to honor the late actor and aspiring marine biologist. “My dad was in awe of the ocean and wanted to see it protected,” Meadow said after the special presentation. “It’s exciting to know scholarships and students will ensure the future of our oceans. It’s an honor to be supporting them and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s teen program.”
Still promoting the foundation and her father’s legacy today, the 19-year-old Meadow spends a lot of her time inviting others to “do good” just as her father did every day of his life. In fact, she lives by her father’s words, “I’m a doer, and whether it was the tsunami in Sri Lanka or the earthquake in Indonesia, I was always saying, ‘I should be there…’” Now, Meadow is giving back in a beautiful way of honoring her father’s legacy and pursuing her own passion for helping others!