The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]

The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]

Acting. Singing. Producing. Is there anything this former child star can't do?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Kevin Mazur / Contributor (Getty Images)

Keke Palmer has been a household name since 2006's Akeelah and the Bee, but her career spanning film, TV, music video and off-camera work is expansive. If you didn’t already know, click through to get schooled.

Advertisement

2 / 20

Family Beginnings

Family Beginnings

Keke (left) with older sister, Loreal (right)
Keke (left) with older sister, Loreal (right)
Photo: Screen grab from NY Times (Other)

Lauren Keyana Palmer was born on August 26, 1993, to Sharon and Lawrence “Larry” Palmer in Harvey, Illinois. She has twin siblings, Lawrence and Lawrencia, seven years her junior and an older sister named Loreal.

Advertisement

3 / 20

Pursuing Acting

Pursuing Acting

Keke Palmer Goes Back To Robbins, IL and Rejoins Her Church Choir

Palmer’s talents were first displayed when she sang in her church’s choir at age five. Although she didn’t get a role, she auditioned for The Lion King on tour when she was nine-years-old and the acting bug bit her. She begged her parents to move her and her family to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

Advertisement

4 / 20

Acting Debut

Acting Debut

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Screen grab from US Magazine (Other)

Keke’s acting debut was her movie role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business in 2004 at age 10. The following year she signed a record deal with Atlantic Records. Her debut album So Uncool, which was R&B, dropped in 2007.

Advertisement

5 / 20

Hardship of Child Acting

Hardship of Child Acting

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Screen grab from Wonderwall.com (Other)

Although Palmer saw much success in her early career, she has been vocal about the challenges. “At a young age, as a child [in the] entertainer world, your emotions are always the last thing that people care about,” she told E! News in a 2021 interview.

Advertisement

6 / 20

Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee

Keke Palmer Talks About The Roles That Changed Her Life

Although she had worked in entertainment since she was a child, playing the lead role as Akeelah Anderson in the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee, opened stardom’s floodgates. A young Palmer held her own alongside veteran actors Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne and took home the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. Her career took off.

Advertisement

7 / 20

Child Star

Child Star

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Jeffrey Mayer / Contributor (Getty Images)

In 2006, Palmer also starred in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion as Nikki. The following year, even more big roles came her way. She acted alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Eva Mendes in the thriller Cleaner, obtained the lead role in Disney’s Jump In! alongside Corbin Bleu, starred in Perry’s TV series House of Payne and Nickelodeon’s Just Jordan.

Advertisement

8 / 20

True Jackson, VP

True Jackson, VP

True Jackson VP Theme Song 🎶 + First 5 Minutes! Starring Keke Palmer

In 2008, Palmer bossed up by playing a girl boss in True Jackson, VP, a Nickelodeon sitcom about a teenager with a lemonade stand who becomes a fashion exec. The show ran from 2008 through 2011 and was “prematurely” canceled according to a TikTok Palmer made about a possible reboot of the show. At the time, she was among the highest-paid child actors, earning $20,000 per episode. She won several NAACP Image Awards and BET Awards for her role. A Walmart fashion line based on the show was made in 2009.

Advertisement

9 / 20

Voice Acting

Voice Acting

Keke Palmer to Voice New “Proud Family” Character on Disney+ | E! News

Palmer began voice acting in 2008, but one of her biggest voice roles was as Aisha in Nickelodeon’s Winx Club in 2010. She also voiced Peaches in the Ice Age films, Pam in Family Guy, Stylee in Bubble Guppies, Rochelle in Big Mouth, Brandi in The Cleveland Show, Maya in The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder and more. She most recently voiced the character Izzy Hawthorne in Disney’s Lightyear.

Advertisement

10 / 20

Singing In Roles

Singing In Roles

JOYFUL NOISE “Man in the Mirror” full scene 2012

In 2012, Palmer starred alongside Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, and Jeremy Jordan in the musical film, Joyful Noise. Although her singing voice was used for movies and TV shows in her career, this was the first character she played that sang throughout the project. In 2013, she portrayed Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas from the ‘90s girl group TLC in the biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.

Advertisement

11 / 20

Just Keke

Just Keke

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Screen grab from Pinterest (Other)

In 2014, Palmer became the youngest talk show host in television history with her BET show Just Keke. She was just 20 years old. The show targeted millennials with varying topics from social issues to pop culture and aired for 20 episodes.

Advertisement

12 / 20

Cinderella

Cinderella

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Carol Rosegg (Other)

Palmer became the first African-American actress to play Cinderella on Broadway in September 2014. In an interview with Essence, she revealed that she always wanted a role like Cinderella, “I waited my entire life for a moment like that. I hate saying it was a huge deal that I was the first African-American to ever be a part of this musical. It’s great, but I also want people to feel like it’s crazy, because it shouldn’t always be this way. But I loved that my little brother and sister got to watch this show and actually see a diverse world just like the one around them.”

Advertisement

13 / 20

Grease: Live and More

Grease: Live and More

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: FOX / Contributor (Getty Images)

Palmer starred in the television series, Scream Queens, starting in 2015. In 2016 she played Marty Maraschino in Grease: Live, where she was one of only a few Black actors, a first for a Grease production. She released her memoir, I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice in 2017.

Advertisement

14 / 20

Strahan, Sara, and Keke

Strahan, Sara, and Keke

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Photo: Screen grab TvLine.com (Other)

In 2019, Palmer was named the third host of ABC’s Strahan & Sara after being a guest host for the show for several months. The show was re-named Strahan, Sara, and Keke but was cancelled in 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Many viewers, though, believed the show was cancelled because of Palmer’s outspokenness about the Black Lives Matter movement on the show. Palmer has continued to use her platform to start conversations about injustice.

Advertisement

15 / 20

MTV and Time’s Next 100

MTV and Time’s Next 100

Keke Palmer Opens the 2020 MTV VMAs

Palmer was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Next rising stars in 2019 and hosted the MTV Video Music Awards in 2020. During the show, she talked about the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Advertisement

16 / 20

“Sorry to this Man”

“Sorry to this Man”

KEKE PALMER THE MEME QUEEN “SORRY TO THIS MAN”

Palmer’s 2022 has been all about box-office blockbusters. She’s acted in the films Alice, Lightyear, and the Jordan Peele’s Nope, which smashed post-pandemic era records in its opening weekend. Along with her packed schedule, Palmer has become the queen of memes. Her recognizable voice and witty attitude has created viral moments, including interview clips from “I’m sorry to this man” to her Angela Bassett impressions.

Advertisement

17 / 20

Keke Palmer and Angela Bassett

Keke Palmer and Angela Bassett

Keke Palmer & Angela Bassett Reunite After 16 Years | Vanity Fair

It has been 16 years since Keke Palmer and Angela Bassett shared the screen in Akeelah and the Bee! Vanity Fair brought them together to reconnect and also give Keke a chance to do her spot-on Angela impression in person! If we ever get an Angela Bassett biopic, we know who will get a call!

Advertisement

18 / 20

Keke Hosts SNL

Keke Hosts SNL

Keke Palmer Monologue - SNL

On December 3rd, 2022, Keke Palmer hosted SNL with musical guest, SZA. She participated in hilarious skips and even showed off her gorgeous vocals!

Advertisement

19 / 20

Pregnancy Announcement

Pregnancy Announcement

Image for article titled The Evolution of Keke Palmer [Update]
Screenshot: Screenshot from Youtube.com (Other)

In Keke’s opening monologue, she addressed the rumors buzzing on the internet that she is pregnant by ripping open her suit coat and revealing her baby bump. Keke Palmer is pregnant with her first child with her boyfriend, Darius Jackson!

Advertisement

20 / 20