Keke Palmer: From Nickelodeon Star to Modern-Day Icon

Keke Palmer is just starting. For nearly two decades, the 26-year-old actress and 2020 MTV VMAs host have been acting. She has appeared in movies, TV shows, released two albums, and successfully transitioned from child stardom. 

She has created a legion of fans for both her work and her character. During a Black Lives Matter protest in June, Palmer's "Sorry to This Guy" meme from her 2019 Vanity Fair lie detector test is arguably as well established as her moving, impromptu appeals to National Guardsmen.


She's shown that intelligent dialogue, self-awareness, and an ability to inspire others to lie behind her humor and beaming smile. That's the essence of the Hollywood journey for Palmer. Now, let's take a step back to see how Keke Palmer grew through the industry years. 

Keke Palmer: From Nickelodeon Star to Modern-Day Icon
Image Source: Glamour

Growing Up

Born in Harvey, Illinois, in 1993, Palmer did not grow up around Hollywood's glitz and glamour. 

Before pursuing other jobs (her father, Larry, worked for a polyurethane company, while her mother, Sharon, was a high school teacher), the multi-hyphenate parents met in drama school and worked as professional actors, so they knew their daughter was a natural-born performer


Still, from modest beginnings, her career rose. Keke, at 5, began singing in a church choir. She auditioned for the stage production of The Lion King at nine; the casting director told her parents she had talent, but she was too young.

Breakout Role

The breakthrough role of the actress came with Akeelah and the Bee in 2006, in which she acted as an 11-year-old bright girl who is interested in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

The public noticed Palmer, and by 2007, she had begun to solidify her fan base, starring in Jump In! along with Corbin Bleu. 


She branched out into music that year, too, when she released her debut album, So Uncool, through Atlantic Records. 

She filmed her TV show on Nickelodeon, True Jackson, VP, in 2008, and her $20,000 per episode wage and clothing line for Walmart made her the fourth-highest-paid child star on TV.

Journey Away from Child Stardom

In 2011, the actress turned 18, the same year that her sitcom ended, after which she continued to work on music and released Awaken, her first mixtape. 

Worlds clashed shortly after, as she reunited with Latifah for the 2012 musical comedy-drama Joyful Noise, also starring Jeremy Jordan and Dolly Parton. When she played Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas in the VH1 TLC biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story in 2013, viewers will soon have the chance to see Palmer sing on screen again. 

She continued to rack up television appearances, including 90210 and Sex Masters, and in 2014, she made history, both as her BET show's youngest-ever talk show host, Just Keke, and as Broadway's first black Cinderella. "I've been waiting for a moment like that my whole life. 

I hate to admit that it was a big deal that I was the first African American ever to be part of this musical," Palmer told Essence in 2016. 

Music Career

Palmer moved from one musical to the next, appearing in 2016's Fox's Grease: Live. Then, at rehearsals, she opened up to ET about her new understanding of how work impacted her personal life. 

As she released her first novel, I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice, fans got more words of wisdom from Palmer later that year. 

She took charge of her music career, releasing Waited to Exhale, recorded when she was 16.

Her Overall Growth and Successes

Keke starred in the Lifetime Network's film, Abducted: The Carlina White Story (2012). "In the 20th Century Fox animated film, Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), as the character" Peaches, "she had a voice role. 

In the Alcon / Warner Bros film, Joyful Noise (2012), Palmer was seen on the big screen singing alongside the legendary Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. 

Still, it was Palmer who the critics picked out for her "young and inspiring" rendition of the Michael Jackson hit, "Man in the Mirror."

Keke Palmer: From Nickelodeon Star to Modern-Day Icon
Image Source: Answers Africa


Are you feeling nostalgic? As she stays at home during the pandemic, Keke Palmer has been doing some things, and this time she recently decided to do something with her hair. 

The 26-year-old is now sporting a brand new peach-colored hairdo, and she loves it very obviously. 

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