October 31, 2013
By Kam Williams
Born in Harvey, Illinois on August 26, 1993, Lauren Keyana Palmer has been wowing audiences since the tender age of 9. Keke first received great acclaim when she starred as the title character in the sleeper hit “Akeelah and the Bee,” opposite actor Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.
Keke followed that powerful performance with lead roles in “The Longshots,” “Shrink” and “Joyful Noise.” She’s also made memorable appearances in such films as “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” “Cleaner” and “Madea’s Family Reunion,” as well as voiceover work in animated features like “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom” and “Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare.”
Keke will next be starring in the horror thriller “Animal,” directed by Brett Simmons, which is set to be released in spring of 2014. On TV, Keke played the title character on the hit Nickelodeon series “True Jackson VP,” and received four NAACP Awards for “Best Actress in Children's Television.” Her other television credits include “90210,” “Cold Case,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “ER.”
In 2012, she produced and starred in her first made for TV movie entitled “Rags,” which aired on Nickelodeon. Earlier this year, she handled another title role in the Lifetime made-for-TV movie, “The Carlina White Story.”
Keke is currently starring in the DirectTV miniseries “Full Circle,” written by Neil LaBute. And musically, she is in the studio recording her second album with the award-winning producer Bangladesh.
When she isn’t acting or singing, Keke believes in giving back. She is very involved with the Boys & Girls Club of America, Saving Our Daughters, the YWCA, the Embrace Girls Foundation, and she is an ambassador for Robi Reid's AIDS awareness and prevention organization, the Reid for Hope Foundation.
Here she talks about her latest outing as Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story,” a VH1 original movie.
Kam Williams: Hi Keke, thanks for another interview.
Keke Palmer: No problem, Kam. Glad to be here!
KW: What interested you in Crazy Sexy Cool? Were you a fan of TLC as a kid?
KP: Being a fan is exactly what made me want to do this film. I wanted to be a part of telling the story of a favorite group of mine.
KW: How did you prepare for the role? Is it hard to play a real-life person than a fictional character?
KP: I just watched a lot of old footage. I also spent a lot of time with Chilli and just observed her.
KW: Was Chilli present on the set making suggestions?
KP: Yes! She definitely let me do my thing, but she was always there for questions.
KW: How would you describe TLC’s legacy in one word?
KP: I don’t think there’s a word to describe it, really. They really inspired a generation of women to be confident go-getters.
KW: What message do you think people will take away from Crazy Sexy Cool?
KP: You can do anything as long as you don’t stop believing. When it is meant to be, it will be. You just have to follow your heart.
KW: Tell me a little about your new TV series, “Full Circle.”
KP: It’s a mini-series written by Neil LaBute about a bunch of different people who connect in some way in the last episode.
KW: What’s your character Chan’Dra like?
KP: She’s a strong, young high school student who will stop at nothing to get what she feels is deserved for her brother.
KW: You’ve been shooting a horror film set to be released next spring called Animal. The picture sounds great, but please don’t tell me you die first, like many a black character in scary movies?
KP: [LOL] If I told you that answer, wrong or right, it would spoil the movie! I will say that we break some stereotypes.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
KP: No, actually. [Laughs]
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
KP: Every day since I’ve been filming my new movie, one of my cast members always has me in stitches.
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KP: Probably reality-TV.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
KP: “Heaven is For Real.” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0849946158/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
KP: Pancakes! [LOL]
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
KP: Passionate people.
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
KP: Don’t have just one.
KW: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?
KP: To pick projects that affect me.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
KP: For everyone in the world to love each other.
KW: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend the time?
KP: With my family.
KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
KP: Running through the beads that used to hang from the doorway, separating the room.
KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?
KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
KP: I’m not sure I can articulate that.
KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
KP: I may be slightly more patient on the carpet.
KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
KP: No real fear of limitations.
KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?
KW: The Michael Ealy question: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?
KP: Dr. Martin Luther King.
KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
KP: “The Wiz!”
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
KP: Embrace Girls.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
KP: Follow your heart’s truth with no need for personal gain other than the feeling produced when doing what you truly love.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Keke, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
KP: Thank you, Kam.
To see a trailer for “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story,” visit:
Airdates for “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story”:
• Tuesday, November 05
4:00 PM ET/PT on VH1