Born in Anderson, South Carolina, Parker attended the College of Charleston, where she was a sister of Alpha Delta Pi and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and was later named Alumnus of the Year. She then went on to receive a Master of Arts in Education from The Citadel.
After graduating, Parker taught English literature at North Charleston and Middleton High Schools. Lu has been presented with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor given in the state of South Carolina, and has been recognized in the South Carolina Congressional Record twice as an outstanding South Carolinian.
After winning Miss South Carolina USA, Parker competed at Miss USA 1994. She came into the semi-finals in first place, having won all three preliminary competitions. After the semi-finals, she went into the Top 6 in second place. After the judges’ question, she just made the cut in the final three in third place, eventually becoming the third South Carolinian to be crowned Miss USA. She continued on to compete in the 1994 Miss Universe Pageant in Manila, Philippines, where she placed among the top 6 finalists.
In 2016, she was one of the judges at the Miss Teen USA 2016 pageant, at The Venetian Theatre, Las Vegas, Nevada. Parker has authored a book on pageantry titled Catching the Crown: The Source for Pageant Competition.
In San Antonio, KABB TV hired Parker to serve as a weekend anchor and reporter. Parker was promoted to main anchor in 2000. In February 2003, she became the host for “Great Day SA” at KENS 5, which is San Antonio’s top-rated live entertainment morning show.
In January 2005, she moved to Los Angeles to join Frank Buckley as co-anchor for KTLA‘s “KTLA Prime News” on weekends. In 2007, Parker began to co-anchor the weekday “KTLA Morning News” at 5:00 A.M and 6:00 A.M. with Cher Calvin. Parker has been the anchor for the 11am – 2pm and 3pm newscasts at KTLA since 2015. She has won multiple Emmy Awards for her work.
In 2016, she partnered with Maria Shriver and KTLA creating an inspirational webshow titled The Path with Lu Parker.