Things About Keke Palmer Only Her Biggest Fans Know

This article discusses mental health issues. 

At only 29, Keke Palmer is an icon in her own right. A true multi-hyphenate star, she has explored nearly all the forms of entertainment that there is in today's world — a feat she attributes to her constant need to create. "It came from boredom," she told Bustle in 2022. "It came from just me being like, what else can I do? How else can I have fun? How else can I be creative? If I have a hobby or if I have something that I just do once or twice, somehow it can end up developing into something far bigger." Not to brag on her behalf, but Palmer's career has indeed become something bigger over time.

As of 2022, the performer had almost 100 acting credits under her belt, two studio albums, and multiple awards to her name. She was also estimated to be worth $7.5 million — so there is no doubt that she has achieved mainstream success. Though she's obviously immensely talented, Palmer believes her success story would never have happened if her head was not in the right place. "None of it really means anything if you don't have your mind," she said at an Ohio State campus career event in 2022, per The Lantern. "You really have to take care of your mind in any profession." 

But even though Palmer has been in the industry for decades, parts of her life remain unknown. From her many rumored relationships to the times she made history, here are things you probably didn't know about Keke Palmer.

Keke Palmer performed in church as a child

Born to Catholic parents, Keke Palmer was raised as a devout Christian. Her father, Larry Palmer served as a deacon while her mother, Sharon Palmer was the choir director. While they didn't have a lot of money, the family kept their faith alive by focusing on the many endless possibilities of the world. "The talk in our home was God and faith and 'You can achieve' and 'Don't allow yourself to be a product of your environment and, 'For damn sure don't let yourself be a stereotype,'" Sharon revealed during an appearance on "Today."

Largely influenced by her mother, Keke picked up an interest in music pretty early. When she was five, the budding star had her first ever performance, singing, "Jesus Loves Me" in the church choir. This experience in her local church would eventually come in handy later on in her career.

In 2012, she landed a role in the musical comedy, "Joyful Noise," centered around a church choir's attempt to incorporate a more contemporary style of music. As she told Christian Post, the role was hardly a stretch for her given her background. "I grew up in the church, and singing in the choir, begging my mom if I could have a solo. That's all very close to home for me."

She made her acting debut in the early '00s

With a natural flair for performing, there was never a doubt about what Keke Palmer was meant to do. When she was nine, the burgeoning performer auditioned for the stage production of "The Lion King" but did not get the role because she was far too young. Still, Palmer was determined to pursue her dreams and so she convinced her family to move to Los Angeles. "I knew opportunities would pop up if I just kept on trying," she told USA Today. And just like she predicted, opportunities never stopped coming. Just a year later, Palmer made her acting debut, after landing a role as Queen Latifah's niece in the 2004 comedy-drama, "Barbershop 2: Back in Business." In the year that followed, Palmer had minor roles in a number of television roles including "Strong Medicine," "Second Time Around" and "ER." 

Then in 2006, the young star had her breakout role, playing the 11-year-old titular character, Akeelah Anderson, in "Akeelah and the Bee." With a stellar performance that earned her an NAACP Image Award and a Young Artist Award, Palmer set the pace for what would become a decades-long display of black excellence. When asked by NPR what she learned from her character, the then-13-year-old replied, "To not be afraid of anything ... and, you know, work hard." And hard, Palmer has indeed worked.

Keke became one of the highest-paid child actors on TV

Already famous in her own right, Keke Palmer experienced newfound success in 2008 when she played the titular character in Nickelodeon's teen sitcom, "True Jackson." At the time, Palmer became one of the highest-paid child actors on TV, receiving a whopping salary of $20,000 per episode. But, True Jackson was not just another character on television, it was also an inspiration to many black girls across America, something Palmer herself took time to realize. "As I've gotten older, I didn't realize how much of an influence that character had on young Black women, young millennials, young kids, just everybody, because it's like, yo, this is a young person living their dream," she told MTV in 2020.

Palmer's influential status at the time no doubt accounts for the pressures of fame she experienced during and after the show. In a cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, she recalled once fainting from anxiety during a week-long cruise organized by Nickelodeon. "I felt like I was walking around in a SpongeBob suit that I couldn't take off," she explained. "I was trapped. I couldn't leave my room without someone coming up to me calling me True Jackson. What you are, to everyone, is just a character... just part of their experience." 

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Keke Palmer has big plans for her music career

In addition to her career in acting, Keke Palmer has continued to pursue her first love — music. "I didn't know I was gonna act," she admitted to NPR in 2006. "I thought I was gonna be a singer because that's what I did first." A year later, the 14-year-old made her entry into the music industry with the release of her debut album, "So Uncool." The project would eventually go on to peak at No. 86 on the Billboard Top R&B and Hip-Hop Albums chart.

A decade later, Palmer released her second album, "Waited to Exhale," a project which she wrote on the set of "True Jackson." In December 2020, the "Joyful Noise" star then released "Virgo Tendencies" — a two-part EP ode to Virgos around the world. "With 'Virgo Tendencies,' I was expressing a lot of the different moods that I was experiencing," she told E! News. "From being really introspective to being, 'I got to get out of here, I got to live and I got to try to find some way to mentally escape.'"

At the end of 2022, Palmer teased an upcoming musical project. Speaking to In the Know, she discussed how she was excited to push her craft beyond the outmoded structures of the music industry. She has far bigger plans for her work than simply putting out a typical album. "[The] place that feels most authentic [for me] is storytelling through music and being able to also attach a visual to that," she shared. 

Keke Palmer made talk show history

In 2014, Keke Palmer made history as the youngest talk show host at that time, with the launch of, "Just Keke." The BET-produced show aimed to promote important discussions affecting young people at the time. "I was inspired to do this show based on my life situations and what I was going through," she told the New York Post of the show. "Growing up, I never really got a chance to socialize or talk to people my age because I was home-schooled since the fifth grade."

Palmer expressed similar sentiments in an interview with USA Today, where she suggested the show's purpose was to inspire discussion in a bid to change media dialogues for the better. "I wanted to have conversations that weren't being had," she explained. "This is a place where we can all talk and have a sense of community and not judge one another but actually come to an understanding of things together and at the same time."

These days, however, Palmer wants to provide a platform for young creators. In September 2022, she launched KeyTV, a digital television platform aimed at amplifying the voice of new-generation creatives. "I want to share everything I learned with you because this is my greatest dream of all," Palmer said in an Instagram video. "All it takes is one of us to unlock a door to unlock a million doors for each other."

She has become known for many other hosting duties

Since "Just Keke," Keke Palmer has racked up many more hosting credits. In 2019, she joined ABC's "Strahan and Sara," serving as a temporary co-host with Michael Strahan and a fill-in for Sara Haines who was on maternity leave at the time. Upon Haines' return, Palmer was offered a permanent position at the network. "It's been a blast having Keke co-host this summer. She brings a unique and spontaneous energy viewers love," GMA executive producer, Rory Albanese, said about the multi-talented star in a statement, per Variety. Though "Strahan, Sara, and Keke," was eventually canceled in 2020, Palmer snagged a daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host.

Naturally, it did not take too long for Palmer to grab another major hosting gig. In April 2022, it was announced that Palmer had been cast to host a reboot of the classic NBC gameshow "Password." The "Scream" actor has also enjoyed a number of other small hosting duties, including the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, a memorable episode of "Saturday Night Live" in 2022, and a reboot of the famous '90s dating show, "Singled Out."

Keke lent her voice to several animated movies

Keke Palmer's successful run in Hollywood would be incomplete without mentioning her voice acting career. She made her voice-acting debut in 2007 when she voiced Aisha in "Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom. Five years later, she lent her voice to Peaches, a character in "Ice Age: Continental Drift," the fourth film in the classic family franchise. As she mused to Fox News, the animated movie series had more depth to it than people may care to acknowledge. "When you watch 'Ice Age,' the big message is that family comes in all different shapes and sizes," she said. "They don't have to look exactly like you because love is love."

In 2021, the "Scream Queens" star enjoyed a main voice role in "Lightyear," a spinoff of the "Toy Story" franchise, as the character, Izzy Hawthorne. Speaking to Daily News, she once again pondered the true meaning and impact of the film — particularly in showcasing how a diverse set of people can and should become heroes. "It's 'To infinity and beyond' for all of us," she explained about the film's supporting characters. "Leaders, heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and I think that's the thing that 'Lightyear' is also writing for. That is the future. 'To infinity and beyond' with that. Yes, Buzz is a hero, but so are all of the faces that you are going to meet along the course of the journey."

Palmer is a known activist and philanthropist

Not one afraid of sharing her truth, Keke Palmer has proven herself to be quite the activist for change. An avid supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Palmer was one of the few stars at the forefront of the 2020 George Floyd Protests. In June of that year, the actor made headlines after a viral video showed her asking National Guards to march with protesters. "I wanted to just bring as much awareness as we all can to the injustices that are going on in America," Palmer later told "GMA" of her decision to film a plea directly addressed to the guards. "Being there with everyone, we were all just so inspired and empowered, I think is the word."

Since as far back as 2012, Palmer has also publicly supported the Dove Self Esteem Project — a project aimed at helping girls regain their self-confidence to achieve the greatness they were capable of. "Like most girls, there have been times when I have felt insecure about my looks," she said in a press release for the skincare brand's initiative, per PR Newswire. "I am lucky enough to have a mom that I can turn to in these moments. She helps me feel more confident, and I know girls everywhere need and value that kind of encouragement."

She has had her share of challenges

Yes, she is a successful Hollywood star but even Keke Palmer has experienced troubles in her life. During a 2017 interview with Cosmopolitan, the "Hustlers" star recounted some of the demands of life as a child actor, and how they had an impact on her mental well-being. "If you grow up in the industry, it forces you to be agreeable at all times," she said. "When it came to saying, 'I'm tired and I want to figure out how to balance my life better,' 'I feel lonely,' 'I'm afraid of my stardom' — those things I could not say."

These days the "True Jackson" alum is taking charge of her well-being and bringing awareness to the public. In doing so, she hopes to encourage others to be kinder to themselves and to speak out when they need help. "We all have our trials and errors with different things in our lives," she said in an interview with Essence. "Everything is not the end of the world. I realized as I got older, I would love to have told myself that."

Palmer has also been open about her experiences with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). "Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea," she wrote in a December 2020 Instagram post. "My skin has made me sad many nights but I do not give up on myself. I know this is not me and my body has been looking for help."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Keke Palmer prefers her love life out of the spotlight

Over the years, Keke Palmer has been linked to a slew of men, including rapper Meek Mill, actor Quincy Brown, and singer Styn. Though Palmer never publicly acknowledged any of these relationships, the "Nope" star previously debunked the rumors when she revealed she is not exactly a fan of dating other celebrities. "I've always had the same philosophy when it comes to dating. Not that I wouldn't give someone a try. But trying to keep my private life outside of my work life, to me, it's easiest when you don't date someone with the same career," Palmer said in a 2020 interview with Haper's Bazaar

In a bid to keep her relationships as private as possible, Palmer has long preferred to keep her love life away from the public eye. However, the star may have changed her tune. In August 2021, the "True Jackson" alum and her boyfriend, Darius Jackson went Instagram official. Palmer shared cute photographs of her and her beau getting cozy at her birthday party amongst pals.

We can't say we blame her as the star appeared to be happy and thriving. "This is the happiest I've ever felt with someone. So why would I go out of my way to hide this person?" she told Bustle in 2022. "That's a lot more work than just living in my life and being in my life."