Q&A: Keke Palmer Talks ‘Trip To Bountiful’, Growing Pains & Her Favorite Eve Record

Keeping tabs on Keke Palmer is harder than flooding a dashboard on Google Chrome. The actress/ songstress had audiences doing a double take as Chilli in VH1’s TLC biopic CrazySexyCool and has now grabbed more airtime on Lifetime alongside the likes of Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Later this year, she has a horror flick with Eve coming out under Drew Barrymore’s production company and a coming-of-age film under Queen Latifah’s creative helm. There are even whispers about a possible talk show, which wouldn’t be surprising given Keke’s gift of gab.

Here, the 20-year-old triple threat penciled VIBE into her busy schedule for a short-and-sweet interview that (spoiler alert) included an impromptu heart-to-heart with Momager (who sat right next to her) and ended with her rapping a full 16 like Eve. Surprised yet? ‘Cause she’s only getting started.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

VIBE: So let’s get into the Lifetime movie A Trip to Bountiful. Are you excited about it?
Keke Palmer: Very, very excited. It’s a project that’s been around for a while. They just did it on Broadway with Cicely, Miss Tyson, Vanessa and Cuba Gooding Jr. and Condola. So, to do the movie and be a part of that was really awesome because they didn’t have to choose me so I’m excited to be a part of it.

How was it working with Vanessa and Cuba?
Well Vanessa and Blair (Underwood). Because none of my scenes were with them, I got to work with Blair and Vanessa a little bit but it was quick, in the beginning of the story. But most of my stuff was with Miss Tyson so that was a lot of fun to just watch her and see how she is, take in whatever I could.

So what kind of lessons did you take in from the time you were with Miss Tyson?
She takes her time. She had a lot of monologues but she never really rushed them. She just allowed those moments to come naturally and I think a lot of times, as an actor, you feel like ‘OK, if I take too much time on this, will this mess up the beat?’ But she just let it happen naturally and I followed after her and it helped me.

Were you able to relate to your character Thelma?
Just being a young woman and trying to figure out your way. I think Thelma was going through a lot of that. Seeing someone like Ms. Watts, Ms. Tyson’s character, who’s so full of life, she goes on this trip to get back to bountiful, which kind of uplifts her. It reminds her that there’s so much for her to be happy about and thankful for.

You’re also involved with the Potential of Us campaign so who has been a positive role model to you?
Definitely. my parents. I think that the best thing they ever did was believe in me because that made me believe that I could do anything and made me believe in myself.

How does mom feel?
Keke’s Mom: I mean, it’s just our life. We’ve been doing this for 10 years and when she was probably like around 13 or 14, it became a problem because she was like ‘Are you my momma or my manager because I really need my mom right now.’ But then she went through a whole epiphany thing which was, ‘You know what, this is our life. This is what we do. You’re my mother but you also help me so I’m going to deal with this’ and we just kind of…
Keke: (Interrupts) She’s really good at it. It’s one of those things like no one’s gonna have your back more than your parents. You’re not going to be able to trust anyone more than your parents. It’s a balance. I can talk to my dad about some stuff if my mom is too focused on the music or is focused on the industry in general and my mom is like me. That little obsessive quality is what makes her so good. I have the obsessive quality too. I obsess over something until I get it right and it always works out for me. It’s probably the reason why I’m so successful. And her having that quality is probably why she’s successful too.
KM: I can agree with that. I totally agree with that and I also think that I’ve also tried to find managers for her. But it’s always back to me anyway.
K: You have to have managers that have a vision for you because if they do, there’s not gonna be any stopping. They’re always going to have the next step and the next step. It was my mom’s vision in the beginning anyhow that even got me to California so she sees the potential in me and always knows where to take it, who to get me to meet and stuff like that. She’s just really good at it so it’s really no point to get anyone else.

Now is there anything else that folks should be on the lookout for this year?
I have a horror movie coming out later this year with Drew Barrymore’s company called Animal. Eve’s actually in it too. And then I have a coming of age story called Brotherly Love, produced by Queen Latifah’s company, that’s coming out later this year as well.

Have you gotten a chance to meet with Drew Barrymore?
No, I didn’t get to meet her during the process. I met all the people she works with like people that have been running the company for awhile but I didn’t get a chance to meet her.


How was working with Eve?
It was so cool. I can’t say too much cause if I tell you then you’ll know some of the movie, but she was really fun to work with. I’ve been a fan of Eve since I was a kid and one of my favorite songs by her was “Love Is Blind.” For whatever reason, it really stuck with me as a child. There’s one line in the song where she says… I’m actually going to look this up now. She says… Sorry to say these words but, “Nigga whatever my bitch, fuck it my sister/ You could never figure out/ even if I let you live/ What our love was all about.” That is a very deep line: “Even if I let you live, what our love was all about.”

As a kid, I’ve always been such a loving, loving person. I don’t know I’ve just always felt so much love in my heart so when I heard that line, I understood what she meant. Because when you love someone, no one can imagine what that love would feel like, even if you let them live it. And for you to be so selfish to take the love of another, you really could never figure out that type of love because you don’t even have the capacity to allow it.