“Scream Queens” is oozing with racial stereotypes, take Keke Palmer’s character, ZayDay Williams, for example. ZayDay is the token Black girl of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority. She comes from a strict Oakland household headed by her stern grandmother in Oakland. Oh, and she loves pork rinds. Palmer, however, insists that she’s not offended by the stereotypes perpetuated on the series because she knows the character of the “Scream Queens” crew—and she helped the series’ executive producer Ryan Murphy create ZayDay in the first place.
“I love that she’s from Oakland. I also love that she has attitude, she has kickback. She’s smart. She’s not a one-note character. Yes, she has funny lines, one-liners, but ultimately, she is the one that can obviously see that something is not right,” the 22-year-old told BuzzFeed News. “Being the only African-American female that’s part of the sorority, I think as an actor, it’s up to me to be honest about what I am comfortable with and what I’m not comfortable with. I get to work with people every day that respect my opinion just as much as they respect everybody else’s. That plays a big part in why I was not offended by any of that. I knew it wasn’t coming from this place.”
So far, the actress says that she hasn’t stumbled across a script from the Fox series that has caused her to clutch her pearls. Palmer adds that in the event that she does come across a line that makes her uncomfortable, she won’t hesitate to speak to the director about it.
“For me, I hadn’t found any moments where I looked at my script and said, ‘Whoa! This is not something I want to say.’ Because ultimately, it’s up to me on how I deliver it as well. As an actor, that’s your job, to gauge it. You talk to your director: ‘Hey, this line feels a little bit one-note.’ And then maybe they’ll tell you another way to do it that maybe you hadn’t thought of yet.”
Since ZayDay is the only Black girl in the house, it’s not uncommon for her to be the butt of race and complexion jokes. Palmer admits that some of the quips stayed with her after the fact, but says that she has learned that subtracting personal feelings from an equation allows actors to appreciate a script for what it is.
“I definitely did think about some of the jokes. Ultimately as an actor, you have to try to find a way to not be personal, but really look at the artwork for what it is trying to show. ‘Scream Queens’ is a satire, and it’s meant to exaggerate the thoughts and desires of the millennial today, as well as have fun in totality. Sometimes it will pull jabs,” Palmer said.
Check out her full interview here. Thoughts?