Since her acting debut in Barbershop: Back to the Basics, Keke Palmer has kept audiences intrigued with her talent. From singing to acting to hosting, the former child star can do it all and appears to have done it all at the age of 28. But time and time again, Keke has surprised us with another role, another song, or another hilarious skit on social media.
Her leading role in Jordan Peele’s Nope has her playing opposite Daniel Kaluuya. Keke plays Emerald Haywood, Daniel’s character OJ’s brother, and the two try to uncover the strange activity going on in their small town. In an interview with Glamour, the “I Don’t Belong to You” singer opened up about working on Nope, her groundbreaking career, and being in control of her life.
Keke on How She Balances Her Life and Career
“My mom always encouraged me to do everything. She told me I didn’t have to do one thing. She gave me people to admire in that way, like Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, and even Queen Latifah. And she made me feel like creativity was not subjugated to just one medium and that I could always express it in different ways. I wasn’t thinking about it quite as articulately as that [at a young age]. I was more so thinking, I like to sing, I like to act and dance.”
Keke on Whether She Likes Being Remembered as the Girl from 'Akeelah and the Bee'
“I honestly love Akeelah. I’m happy I had a role that’s that memorable. Some people are always going to say, 'Oh, Keke Palmer, from Akeelah and the Bee!'…but I don’t have any bad feelings about it. If anything, I think that’s crazy that that character still has impacted so many people. It blows me away because some people don’t get that kind of role during the entirety of their careers…. And the reality is, everybody knows me for something different. Some people don’t even associate the girl from Akeelah with the girl on Instagram.”
Keke on Films Like 'Nope' Bringing Blackness to the Forefront
“It means everything. What I love about Jordan Peele is that he normalizes Black people in leading roles. And being in the leading role is no commentary on being Black. Obviously, there was that connection with Get Out, but that wasn’t the case with Us. It’s not the pivotal connection of his work. The most consistent piece in his work is its social commentary that the audience can chew on afterward.
However, it is about normalizing and putting Blacks and people of color at the forefront. Telling their narratives and stories effortlessly that includes their culture but doesn’t tie their identity to being Black in a way that’s victimized or subservient. It’s important for creators like Jordan Peele, actors, and all of us, to continue to push that envelope as it pertains to Black representation being very robust because we are robust people.”
Keke on Her Many “Firsts” (First Black Woman to Play Cinderella on Broadway and Youngest Television Host)
“It’s a great thing. But it constantly reminds me that there’s a lot of room for all of us to get into these doors, get these things done, and have these moments because I think we forget how quickly Black people have succeeded past the point that they were meant to. We forget how it was not that long ago. And when we have these moments, it’s a reminder that we can do more. To branch out and go in all these different corners, access all these different spaces, grow and ultimately create lineage in that space. I think about the Barrymores, and I think about myself in entertainment. I want my great-great-great-great-grandniece and my great-great-great-great-grandson to carry the Palmer name. If I’m the first, we got a lot more stuff we can do.”
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