Let’s talk about the first ones. You made history on Broadway as the first African-American woman to play Cinderella, and also on television as the youngest host to have her own talk show. How do you feel about the responsibility of being first?
That’s a great thing. But it keeps reminding me that there’s a lot of room for all of us to walk through these doors and get these things done and have these moments because I think we forget how quickly black people have managed to get past the point they were meant to reach. We forget how it was not so long ago. And when we have these moments, it’s a reminder that we can do more. To branch out and go to all these different corners, you get into all these different spaces, you grow, and eventually you create a lineage in that space. I think of the Barrymores and I think of myself in entertainment. I want my great-great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to carry the Palmer name. If I’m the first, we have a lot more to do.
A quote that has always resonated with me is by Toni Morrison: “When you get these jobs that you’re so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you’re free, you have to free someone else.” What causes are near and dear to you?
I have been working with Saving Our Daughters for a long time, since I was really young. It’s about exposing young black girls to things that they wouldn’t always see in their everyday environment. To encourage them and just make them see themselves in every possible space. And it’s very close to my heart because I can’t change everything. I can’t fix and save the world, even if I wanted to, but I can do a little about where I’m at by exposing, supporting, and giving them access—by providing the same opportunities that were offered. to me.
When I think of Queen Latifah or Ice Cube, those are some of the people who helped launch my career. Their success gave me the opportunity. Many young people want to find a way to get into the business and think that the only way you can be is on screen. We have handles, we have key handles, and we have people who work in the electrical industry. I hope that one day I will be able to produce and create opportunities for people in my community, not only on screen, but behind the screen as well.
What does being in control look like for Keke today?
Pour myself more and say no much more. My 28th year has been very insightful and empowered me to step into my independence in an even crazier way than ever. I feel like when God gives you gifts, you want to make sure you do what you need to do with them. Do what you’re meant to do. A lot of it is taking responsibility for myself and protecting and loving myself, stepping into that higher self persona and watching over me, and being in control seems like a no-no. It seems like “I can’t do it”. Or “That’s not possible for me. Maybe another time.” Or “Sorry, I don’t want to.” Honestly, it’s me blocking access.
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