Can you believe “Akeelah and the Bee” came out in theaters sixteen years-ago? Well, its star Keke Palmer is all grown-up now, and reflecting on what she learned from her on-screen mother, actress Angela Basset.
The dynamic duo spilled all of the behind the scenes tea about their relationship in an interview with Vanity Fair on Friday.
One thing we cannot stop thinking about is how Bassett ended-up playing 11-year-old Palmer’s mother. In their interview, Bassett reveals that Palmer was the one who picked her on-screen mom. The news was a surprise to Palmer who just assumed no one was listening.
“Oh, my gosh!” Palmer replies, genuinely shocked. “They ask you all the time, but you never know if they’re really going to do it.”
The film about a young Black girl with big dreams of winning the National Spelling bee, catapulted Palmer into stardom. She went on to have a very fun music career, host an NBC game show, and star in several incredible films like Jordan Peele’s epic thriller, Nope.
By the time we got “Akeelah and the Bee,” Bassett was already an Oscar and Emmy nominated star. And she has continued to wow us with her role as Queen Ramonda in the Black Panther Series.
Teaming these two up as mother and daughter was bound to be on-screen magic. But the relationship went further than what we saw on camera.
In their interview with Vanity Fair, the two discuss a moment where Bassett helped Palmer move through a difficult scene. Palmer was supposed to cry but she was nervous.
Palmer: It was a lot of pressure. I just remember that you looked at me, you grabbed my hand, and you said, “You love what you do, right?” I was like, “Yeah, I love acting.” You said, “And who does that with you?” I said, “I do it with my mom. We do everything all the time together.” And you said, “What if she said, ‘I can’t do this with you anymore. You’re gonna do it all on your own if you’re gonna do it at all, and I can’t be there with you’? How would that make you feel?” And literally, in that moment, I immediately started crying, and the director was like, “Roll it, roll it, roll it!” I just remember thinking about how you helped me to just focus in, and not only focus in, but to attach it to something that’s real for me.
When asked if we’ll be seeing their combined star power on screen again, Palmer and Bassett gave us some hope.
Palmer: Have you ever seen this movie called Heartbreakers? It’s an old movie with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. They’re a mother and daughter duo. And they are secretly scamming a bunch of men. And I would love for us to redo a version of this movie.
Bassett: Oh, I taught you everything you know! But then you upped the game because, you know, it’s all digital and stuff. [Laughs.]
Palmer: I just think we would kill something like that!
Bassett: I think we would.