Actress Keke Palmer is the youngest talk show host in TV history. In her interview with Porter magazine, she reveals what it is like to deal with prejudice and reach stardom
As a child, she was the first Black girl to lead her own show on Nickelodeon; at the age of 20, she became the youngest talk-show host in TV history. So it goes without saying that actor Keke Palmer has myriad strings to her professional bow.
With her career reaching even greater heights this year when she starred in Jordan Peele’s latest box-office hit, Nope the actor reflects on no longer needing validation, her status as the internet’s favourite funny girl and her experiences dealing with colourism.
Having transitioned from child stardom to adulthood, Palmer has been acting since 2004. When she celebrated her birthday back in August, Keke Palmer capped off what had been a whirlwind few months for the actor. “I can’t even believe my ass is 29,” she grins, recalling the surprise some fans expressed at how young she is, given that she has two decades in the industry under her belt already.
With the end of her twenties in sight, Palmer seems thoughtful about what she’s taking away from the past decade. “I don’t need anybody to validate me; I don’t need anything to validate me; I don’t need an accolade,” she says. “There’s no moment, and there’s nothing, outwardly, that can make me feel as good as I feel about myself.”
Her star-turning role as heroine Emerald Haywood in Jordan Peele’s latest blockbuster, Nope has been an outstanding addition to Palmer’s résumé.
Palmer tells Porter, “I like to have my hands in many things […]. I’m a very creative person, and part of that comes from not wanting to be stagnant.” So much so that online fans have nicknamed her Keke “Keep a Job” Palmer because of the multi-faceted nature of her talents.
On being ordained, in recent years, the queen of memes, Keke comments, “I think it’s really sweet and cool that people see me that way… A meme is a meme because you relate to it. And, sometimes, I have experiences in my life when I don’t feel like people can relate to me, because I’m an entertainer, or they have a certain idea of what my life is like. So I love the idea that, when someone’s looking at one of my memes, they’re just seeing me as a normal person.”
Shortly after Nope was released, a discussion was sparked on social media about Palmer’s career, comparing it to that of fellow actor Zendaya, and saying that the latter’s apparent greater success is a product of colourism. In response, Palmer tweeted, “A great example of colourism is to believe I can be compared to anyone.”
Looking ahead to the next stage of her career, Palmer, wants to share the wisdom she’s accrued over the years with the rising generation of talent. “In my position, the biggest thing I want to tell all little girls is to never carry the weight of being Black, or being dark-skinned, as something that’s going to hold you back.”
This is an excerpt from Porter’s cover feature. To see the full interview read Porter.