Earlier this week, we had the chance to speak with the vibrant Keke Palmer. The 24-year-old was promoting her upcoming appearance on Season 2 of Star, which has its spring premiere tonight. She plays Gigi, a flamboyant singer whom Palmer describes as a “fierce boss.”
Palmer can relate to her character because she’s both flamboyant and a boss. The star, who just created her own record label, Big Boss Entertainment, is unapologetically herself. If you follow her on social media, you already know that. Palmer, who sings like her character (and is actually premiering her own single, “Bossy,” on the show), is known for not being afraid to be silly and totally herself. Whether that includes telling followers “What the gag is,” sharing her latest dance routine, changing her hair a few times a month, or going completely without makeup to do a brief video. And that’s what makes the singer so relatable.
We talked to Palmer about her positive, fun energy and how she makes sure she doesn’t allow others to quell it with the negativity that comes with social media. She said once she became content with the fact that some people weren’t going to be pleased with her no matter what she did, a weight was lifted. The bubbly but PG Keke we’d watched grow up was ready to do her own thing.
“I think it comes from me realizing that people aren’t going to like you even if you do everything right or what they think should be right,” she said. “I’m trying to be perfect for somebody, but even when I do exactly what they want, they still not going to like me because they’re not happy with themselves. You don’t realize that they’ll never be happy with you because they’re not happy with themselves. So for me, it’s like I had to learn how to realize that everybody’s not going through the same stuff and on the same path and you know, we’re not all the same. So you’re sometimes going to be met with people not liking you, and you have got to be OK with that.”
And being comfortable with that has given Palmer the permission to be fully comfortable with herself. She’s currently wearing red locs, but next week she might be in braids or a blunt bob wig. Her ever-changing look is based on her ever-changing mood.
“I think I really just follow how I feel,” she said. “I think that’s what it’s all about. How do I feel? And that will just go along with everything else I have going on.”
And Palmer’s wild style decisions also have a lot to do with her choice to shave her head last year. Quite a few Black women in the entertainment industry have been doing it lately, and Palmer said that when she chose to, the already self-assured star ended up obtaining a whole new level of confidence in herself.
“You feel like, I’m brave as hell!” she said. “Females, I feel like we go through so much that can immediately make us feel like we’re not a woman. ‘Oh, you don’t have enough titties or enough a–. You’re not a woman. Oh, you can’t have a baby. You’re not a woman. Oh, your hair is gone…’ Everything is a challenge.”
Palmer said choosing to let her natural hair shine helped her debunk a lot of the myths she had about womanhood and beauty.
“You know, guys always say, ‘Our manhood is challenged.’ Hell, womanhood is challenged constantly,” she said. “So I think when you cut your hair, you shave your hair off, you feel so good because you’re like, I’m a woman still and I feel sexy and I feel good. All you guys told me was lies! You told me I need this to feel sexy, that to feel sexy. I don’t need no godd–n hair to feel sexy because I still feel good, and people still hollering at me! You realize that everything was a lie.”
“You just feel very real,” Palmer added. “You feel that people who come up to you, when they’re talking to you and vibing with you and relating to you, they’re seeing such a real part of you and I don’t know why that is, because of course it was still the same you with hair. It doesn’t mean that you’re not you when you have a weave in or if you have a wig on. It’s just a different level of freedom that you find doing the opposite of what someone says you’re supposed to.”
Keke can be seen on tonight’s spring premiere of Star at 9 p.m. ET/PT following the premiere of Empire on Fox. Also be sure to check out her newest single, “Bossy.”