I don’t know who needs to tell you this, but Keke Palmer isn’t “some up-and-coming indie actress” Jordan Peele discovered on the street. She isn’t trailblazing her way to the top by starring in Nope. She already is at the top, and she wants you to know that.
Maybe the public forgot about Keke for a minute, although I’m not sure how. But allow me to reintroduce her.
Do I call her Keke Palmer, Primetime Emmy Award Winner? Keke Palmer, five-time NAACP Image Award recipient? Keke, as True Jackson, VP? One of TIME’s most Influential People of 2019?
That Keke? Certainly, she couldn’t be the one everyone is praising for her newly found acting talent in the Nope movie alongside Daniel Kaluuya. Despite her Screen Actors Guild award nom, the Daytime Emmy nom, etc., people seem to have forgotten that Keke Palmer is abundantly talented…And she’s been around forever.
In 2006, Akeelah and the Bee graced our screens and we fell in love with Keke’s tenacious, cheeky personality as the title role. You found yourself rooting for Akeelah, who came from nothing, to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
With some child actors, you watch their career dwindle due to overexploitation - many of them spinning off the rails, even more of them quietly returning to comfortable anonymity. You find yourself Googling “ what happened to [star of favorite childhood comfort film]” and finding nothing.
And yet, Keke Palmer didn’t have one of those public mental breakdowns. Or tweet out controversial opinions years later that would offend her fans. She quietly achieved milestone after milestone.
Until Nope came out and people raved. They praised Keke Palmer’s acting ability, questioning whether or not she was the newest A-list celebrity in the making. They put her name next to the likes of Zendaya.
But…she’s not newly famous. She’s been leading films and TV series for 2 decades. Jordan Peele by no means discovered her. So why are we talking about her acting ability as if it had been a secret?
The thing is, Keke Palmer doesn’t need to be compared to Zendaya. She’s in her own league, she said it herself. It’s our fault for thinking we even need to mention Zendaya and Keke in the same sentence, especially when it comes to making comparisons.
And why do we have to continuously compare actresses to one another? Can’t they both be insanely talented, one-of-a-kind actresses who make incredible pictures?
It’s the perfect example of how society feels the need to pit young, successful Black women against each other. There is no reason for us, as fans and human beings, to undermine one’s success to validate the other.
Palmer isn’t just the sweetheart of Akeelah and the Bee or the star of Disney Channel original Jump In! alongside Corbin Bleu. She’s a barrier-breaking actor, with a plethora of awards and nominations alike.
Scream Queens. The first Black Cinderella on Broadway. A role in Disney’s Lightyear. Hustlers. The youngest talk show host ever, thanks to Strahan, Sara and Keke. A face that has inspired many memes with hilarious quotes to accompany.
This is Keke Palmer, who has been providing us with laughs and quality films for over a decade. Who has given us over 100 television and movie credits, but somehow has gone forgotten until now.
Jordan Peele’s Growing Fanbase
This newfound praise for Keke could be due to the ever-growing brand of Jordan Peele. More and more viewers are coming to the movies just because they are a fan of Peele’s cinema.
Maybe the new wave of movie-goers aren’t keen on Palmer's earlier work. They haven’t seen her own the silver screen as the star in other productions simply because the other movies weren’t Peele’s.
Jordan Peele & Daniel Kaluuya
The obsession began with Get Out back in 2017, a film that plays on ideologies of Black trauma. From there, Peele’s success only grew, creating mind-twisting horror flicks that were unlike anything the public had seen before.
While I’m glad Keke Palmer is finally getting the recognition she deserves, let us not forget that she has been serving this entire time. This isn’t the “New Era Of Keke Palmer”... she’s been here all along.