Lauren Keyana Palmer (born August 26, 1993), better known as Keke Palmer, is an American actress, singer, and television personality. Known for playing leading and character roles in comedy-drama productions, she has received a Primetime Emmy Award, five NAACP Image Awards, and nominations for a Daytime Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. +more Time magazine included her on their list of most influential people in the world in 2019.

Palmer made her acting debut in Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004). She later appeared in the television film The Wool Cap (2004), and had her breakthrough starring in the drama film Akeelah and the Bee (2006). +more Her debut studio album, So Uncool, was released in 2007, and she progressed as a prominent child actress with roles in Madea's Family Reunion (2006), Jump In! (2007), The Longshots (2008) and Shrink (2009).

Palmer received recognition for her roles on Nickelodeon, such as portraying the title character in the sitcom True Jackson, VP (2008-2011), providing the voice of Aisha in the Nickelodeon revival of Winx Club (2011-2014), and headlining the television film Rags (2012). Palmer made her transition to mature roles with the VH1 biographical film CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013), and later starred in the thriller film Animal (2014), the comedy horror series Scream Queens (2015-2016), the drama series Berlin Station (2017-2019), the slasher series Scream (2019), the crime drama film Hustlers (2019) and a starring role in Jordan Peele's Nope (2022). +more In 2021, she received a Primetime Emmy Award for her roles in the Facebook Watch series Turnt Up with the Taylors.

Since So Uncool, Palmer has released three extended plays: Lauren (2016), Virgo Tendencies, Pt. +more 1 (2019) and Virgo Tendencies, Pt. 2 (2020). She hosted the talk show Just Keke (2014) and co-hosted the talk show Strahan, Sara and Keke (2019-2020), the latter earning her a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host.

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Early life

Lauren Keyana Palmer was born on August 26, 1993, in Harvey, Illinois and raised in nearby Robbins, Illinois. She grew up in a Catholic household. +more Her parents, Sharon and Lawrence "Larry" Palmer, who met in drama school, had both worked as professional actors before settling into full-time jobs. Her father works for a polyurethane company, and her mother is a high school teacher who works with autistic children. Her father also volunteers as a Catholic deacon. The nickname "Keke" is not a shortening of "Keyana": according to Palmer, her name came about because her older sister had an imaginary friend named Keke before she was born. Palmer first sang in a church but earned exposure performing at a stage show at a Chicago tourist destination. In 2002, Palmer auditioned for a stage production of The Lion King at age nine.

Career

2000-2012: Child acting and rise to prominence

In 2004, she gained her first film role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, in which she played the niece of rapper and actress Queen Latifah. In 2005, Palmer signed a record deal with Atlantic Records. +more That same year, she was featured in the television film Knights of the South Bronx, as well as starring in the television series Second Time Around and ER. That same year, producer Ralph Farquhar helped Palmer book the starring role in a Disney Channel pilot titled Keke and Jamal. The pilot was not picked up, and never aired.

In 2006, Palmer had her acting breakthrough starring in the film Akeelah and the Bee, playing the titular Akeelah, a bright 11-year-old who comes from a poor neighborhood and competes in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times wrote that Palmer "makes an appealing heroine". +more For the role, she won a Black Reel Award and an NAACP Image Award. She also had a supporting role in the 2006 film Madea's Family Reunion. The following year, Palmer appeared in the thriller Cleaner. She portrayed a lead role in the television film Jump In! Palmer also starred in two television programs Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Just Jordan. Palmer released her debut album So Uncool on September 18, 2007. The album charted at number 86 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

In 2008, Palmer began her starring role as the title character in Nickelodeon sitcom True Jackson, VP. Palmer also wrote and performed the theme song for the series. +more Palmer earned $20,000 per episode of True Jackson, VP, which made her the fourth-highest-paid child star on television. In July 2009, designer Jane Siskin created a Walmart fashion line inspired by True Jackson, VP, with all the designs being approved by Palmer. She also played the lead role in the 2008 film The Longshots. True Jackson, VP ended in 2011. Palmer debuted as the voice of Aisha in Nickelodeon's revival of Winx Club. She received an NAACP Image Award nomination for her voiceover work. In 2012, Palmer starred in the film Joyful Noise, released in January 2012. She produced and starred in Rags, a television musical film, as well as voiced Peaches in Ice Age: Continental Drift. In July 2012, Palmer released the single "You Got Me" featuring Kevin McCall. The video for the single was released on July 11, 2012. She released a self-titled mixtape Keke Palmer on October 1, 2012.

2013-present: Continued success

In 2013, Palmer portrayed Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas in the TLC biopic, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, which aired in October on VH1. She next starred in the horror film Animal; it was released on June 17, 2014. +more She then recurred during the second season of Showtime's drama series Masters of Sex, portraying Coral, a nanny. That same year, Palmer hosted a daytime talk show on BET titled Just Keke. In doing so, she became one of the youngest talk show hosts in television history; the show itself has been regarded as "groundbreaking" and "refreshing". In September 2014, Palmer became the first African American to star as the title character in the musical Cinderella on Broadway. She performed her final show during the closing night of the show's run on January 4, 2015. Later that year, Palmer announced that she had signed with Island Records.

Between September 2015 and December 2016, she starred as Zayday Williams in the horror comedy series Scream Queens, created by Ryan Murphy. In January 2016, Palmer starred as Marty Maraschino in the television special Grease: Live. +more Rolling Stones Britany Spanos regarded Palmer's performance "a standout" and highlighted her "assertiveness, confidence and biting sense of humor". In June, Palmer released Waited to Exhale, an album she wrote during her time on True Jackson, VP that went unreleased due to label issues and her "anxiety-driven hesitance". On November 4, Palmer released her second extended play, titled Lauren, with a 17-minute short film of the same name being released exclusively on Billboards website. In 2017, Palmer released her memoir, I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice. That same year, she joined the drama series Berlin Station during its second season.

In April 2019, Palmer began guest co-hosting ABC's daytime talk show Strahan and Sara, sporadically filling in for co-host Michael Strahan and more regularly beginning in June during co-host Sara Haines's maternity leave. She joined the slasher television series Scream as a series regular in its third season, portraying a character named Kym Johnson, which premiered on July 8, 2019. +more On August 26, Palmer became a third permanent co-host of Strahan and Sara, which was then re-titled Strahan, Sara and Keke. In September, Palmer starred as a "lovestruck stripper" in the crime drama film Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria. She sang the song "Giants" as part of a virtual group named True Damage, in which she voices a character named Senna, in the video game League of Legends for the 2019 World Championship. The song features singers Becky G and Soyeon as well as rappers Duckwrth and Thutmose as the other group members. In November, True Damage performed the song live during the opening ceremony of the finals.

Strahan, Sara and Keke ended unexpectedly in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic ended live studio programming through the industry, and ABC decided to shift the timeslot towards news. Palmer later received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host alongside Haines and Strahan. +more That same year, Palmer began starring in a web television comedy series titled Turnt Up with the Taylors, in which she portrays all of the characters. She released an extended play titled Virgo Tendencies, Pt. 1 on August 28. On August 30, Palmer hosted the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, during which she also performed her song "Snack". She released a follow-up EPVirgo Tendencies, Pt. 2in December 2020. The following year, Palmer won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her performance in Turnt Up with the Taylors. In the same year, Palmer briefly hosted a reboot of the classic 90's MTV dating show Singled Out with Joel Kim Booster as her co-host for the short-lived online streaming service network Quibi.

In 2021, Palmer hosted the reality competition series Foodtastic for Disney+.

In 2022, Palmer starred in Alice, directed by Krystin Ver Linden, which had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. She also served as narrator on Not So Pretty, a documentary investigating the beauty industry directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering for HBO Max. +more Palmer voiced the character of Izzy Hawthorne in the Pixar animated film Lightyear, a spinoff of the Toy Story film series and starred as Emerald Haywood in Nope, directed by Jordan Peele. Palmer currently hosts an NBC reboot of the classic game show Password, with Jimmy Fallon as executive producer/permanent celebrity guest.

Public image

Philanthropy and activism

Palmer works with the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of the American charity Cool To Be Smart program, speaking to children about the importance of learning. She is also a supporter of Urban Farming and the Girl Scouts. +more She has worked with such charities as the YWCA and with Saving Our Daughters. As of 2010, Palmer has been a representative for the Saving Our Daughters project, an anti-bullying campaign.

Palmer was included in the Times 100 Next list in November 2019, which "spotlights 100 rising stars who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, science, health and more. " She is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. +more In 2020, she marched in Hollywood, California, as part of the George Floyd protests. That same year, she addressed the movement during her opening monologue at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards.

Artistry

Palmer's first studio album, So Uncool, was heavily influenced by contemporary R&B, being described as "bright, bouncy, and melodic enough to appeal to teens and pre-teens. Fans of dancey teen pop will want to give this auspicious debut a listen". +more Palmer was heavily influenced by American R&B singers Ciara, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Aaliyah, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, as well as girl group TLC. Among her urban influences, Palmer also cites pop artists Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne as influences.

Personal life

Following the release of her single "I Don't Belong to You" on October 25, 2015, Palmer explained: [wiki_quote=5ed41eaf]

She has also said she does not want her sexuality defined by labels and said that people should be fluid with labelling themselves, as their identities can change.

Palmer has struggled with anxiety and depression. In 2019, as part of the #YouKnowMe campaign, she shared via Twitter that she had an abortion. +more On December 1, 2020, Palmer announced that she has been dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome her entire life.

Filmography

Film

[wiki_table=54bd9054]

Television

YearTitleRoleNotes
2004Cold CaseArletta (1939)Episode: "The Letter"
2004Strong MedicineSarinaEpisode: "Healing Touch"
2004The Wool CapLouTelevision film
2005ERJanell ParkersonEpisode: "The Show Must Go On"
2005Knights of the South BronxKenya RussellTelevision film
2005Law & Order: Special Victims UnitTasha WrightEpisode: "Storm"
2005Second Time AroundSharleneEpisode: "Big Bank, Little Bank"
2007Jump In!Mary ThomasTelevision film
2007Just JordanC. C. +more LivingstonEpisode: "Fame Game"
2007Tyler Perry's House of PayneNikki GradyEpisode: "Bully and the Beast"
2008-11True Jackson, VPTrue JacksonMain role
2010The Cleveland ShowBrandi (voice)Episode: "Harder, Better, Faster, Browner"
2011Degrassi: The Next GenerationHerselfEpisodes: "Boom Boom Pow: Part 1" and "Boom Boom Pow: Part 2"
2011-15Winx ClubAisha (voice)Main role (seasons 3-6)
2012Abducted: The Carlina White StoryCarlina WhiteTelevision film
2012RagsKadee WorthTelevision film
201390210Elizabeth Royce HarwoodRecurring role (season 5)
2013CrazySexyCool: The TLC StoryRozonda "Chilli" ThomasTelevision film
2013Full CircleChan'dra StevensEpisodes: "Jace & Chan'dra" and "Chan'dra & Cliff"
2013Key & PeeleMalia Obama's anger translatorEpisode: "Obama Shutdown"
2014Family GuyPam (voice)Episode: "Baby Got Black"
2014Grey's AnatomySheryll JeffriesEpisode: "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"
2014Just KekeHerselfHost
2014Masters of SexCoral AndersRecurring role (season 2)
2014Single LadiesHerselfEpisode: "The Girl Most Likely To. "
2014The Trip to BountifulThelmaTelevision film
2015-16Scream QueensZayday WilliamsMain role
2016Bubble GuppiesStylee (voice)Episode: "Guppy Style!"
2016Ice Age: The Great Egg-ScapadePeaches (voice)Television special
2016Grease: LiveMarty MaraschinoTelevision special
2016Project Mc2Nov8 agentEpisodes: "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Mission Totally Possible"
2016Raymond & LaneKeyanaEpisode: "Lords of the Land"
2016Real Husbands of HollywoodHerselfEpisode: "The Suitor"
2017-19Berlin StationApril LewisMain role (seasons 2-3)
2017-19StarGigi NixonRecurring role (seasons 2-3)
2019Robot ChickenFraülen Hapstein (voice)Episode: "Musya Shakhtyorov in: Honeyboogers"
2019Scream: ResurrectionKymMain role (season 3)
2019-20Strahan, Sara and KekeHerselfCo-host
2020The Disney Family Singalong: Volume IIHerselfTelevision special
2020MTV Video Music AwardsHerselfHost
2020Nickelodeon's UnfilteredHerselfEpisode: "Honey Bears Chew Gumballs!"
2020Singled OutHerselfHost
2021Big MouthRochelle Hillhurst (voice)3 Episodes
20212021 World SeriesHerselfSinger, national anthem
2021InsecureKiraEpisode: "Pressure, Okay?!"
2021FoodtasticHerselfHost
2022Not So PrettyNarrator (voice)Documentary
2022LegendaryHerselfJudge (season 3)
2022PasswordHerselfHost
2022Karma's WorldCece Dupree (voice)Episodes: "Save the Center, Part 1", "Save the Center, Part 2" and "Save the Center, Part 3"
2022-presentThe Proud Family: Louder and ProuderMaya Leibowitz-Jenkins (voice)Supporting role
2022-presentHuman ResourcesRochelle Hillhurst (voice)Main role
TBAThe HospitalDr. Klak (voice)Upcoming series
.

Internet

YearTitleRoleNotes
2017That's the GagHerselfMain role
2018Good Mythical MorningHerselfGuest role (season 13, episode 38)
2020Turnt Up with the TaylorsThe TaylorsMain role
2020VMA's 2020 AdvertisementTrue Jackson
2022Cardi TriesHerselfEpisode: "Cardi Tries Fishing"

Podcasts

YearTitleRoleNotes
2021Hit JobBrynn MorrisPodcast series
2022Call Her DaddyHerselfPodcast series

Commercials

YearTitleRoleNotes
2021Come HomeAngie (voice)Xfinity/Sing 2 promo

Stage

YearTitleRoleNotes
2014-2015CinderellaEllaThe Broadway Theatre

Discography

Studio albums

So Uncool (2007)

Concert tours

Headlining

Footworkin' Concert Tour (2007)

Co-headlining

Radio Disney Jingle Jam (with Mitchel Musso and Drew Seeley) (2007)

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryWorkResultRef
2005Young Artist AwardBest Performance in TV Movie, Miniseries or Special - Leading Young ActressThe Wool CapNominated
2005Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or MiniseriesThe Wool CapNominated
2005NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialThe Wool CapNominated
2006Chicago Film Critics Association AwardsMost Promising PerformerAkeelah and the BeeWon
2006Black Movie AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading RoleAkeelah and the BeeWon
2007Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young ActressAkeelah and the BeeWon
2007NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureAkeelah and the BeeWon
2007Broadcast Film Critics Association AwardsBest Young ActressAkeelah and the BeeNominated
2007Black Reel AwardsBest ActressAkeelah and the BeeWon
2007Black Reel AwardsBest Breakthrough PerformanceAkeelah and the BeeNominated
2008Young Artist AwardsBest Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young ActressCleanerNominated
2008Black Reel AwardsBest ActressThe LongshotsNominated
2009NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or SpecialTrue Jackson, VPWon
2010NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or SpecialTrue Jackson, VPWon
2010Kids Choice AwardsFavorite TV ActressTrue Jackson, VPNominated
2010BET AwardsYoungStars AwardTrue Jackson, VPWon
2011Young Artist AwardsBest Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young ActressTrue Jackson, VPNominated
2011NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or SpecialTrue Jackson, VPWon
2011BET AwardsYoungStars AwardTrue Jackson, VPNominated
2012NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or SpecialTrue Jackson, VPWon
2012BET AwardsYoungStars AwardJoyful NoiseNominated
2013Black Reel AwardsBest Actress in a Television Miniseries or MovieAbducted: The Carlina White StoryNominated
2013NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialAbducted: The Carlina White StoryNominated
2013NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or SpecialWinx Club: EnchantixNominated
2013BTVA Feature Film Voice Acting AwardBest Vocal Ensemble in a Feature Film (shared with Ice Age Cast)Ice Age: Continental DriftNominated
2013BET AwardsYoungstars AwardsKeke PalmerNominated
2013BET AwardsChief Keef-"Keke Palmer"DedicationNominated
2014Black Reel AwardsBest Actress in a Television Miniseries or MovieCrazySexyCool: The TLC StoryNominated
2014NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialCrazySexyCool: The TLC StoryNominated
2014BET AwardsYoungstars AwardsKeke PalmerWon
2015NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialThe Trip To BountifulNominated
2015Spirit of the League Awards GalaSpirit Of The League Champion AwardPhilanthropyWon
2016NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureBrotherly LoveNominated
2020Shorty AwardsBest CelebrityHerselfNominated
2020Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Entertainment Talk Show HostGMA3: Strahan, Sara and KekeNominated
2021Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama SeriesKeke Palmer's Turnt Up with the TaylorsWon
2022NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Character Voice Performance (Television)Big MouthNominated
2022Saturn AwardsBest ActressNopeNominated
2022Vienna Independent Film FestivalBest Musical FilmBig BossWon
2022Newport International Film FestivalArtist of Distinction AwardKeke Palmer

21st-century African-American women singers

African-American television personalities

Living people