On her Snapchat account, Keke Palmer openly welcomes viewers into her world—and it’s an extremely busy one. Coming off the heels of her groundbreaking gig as the first African-American woman to play Cinderella on Broadway, a staring role in Fox's Scream Queens, and her 2015 single, "I Don't Belong To You," Palmer is nowhere close to complacency. Between dance rehearsals, glam appointments, early morning studio sessions, and late night dinners with her friends in Los Angeles, the 22 year-old Illinois native maximizes every second of her day.
Through it all, Palmer drops gems on her daily stories on her account @Keekthasneak about everything from being weary of men who tell lies, to the magic of self-love. On top of her constant encouragement for young women to take hold of their identities and occasional selfies, Palmer’s personality opens up the space for those watching to laugh with her about her messing up a song lyric or playing jokes on her Grease: Live cast members.
The FADER spoke to Keke over the phone about why she chose Snapchat as the best way to connect with her fans, how she’s able to keep it real, and about the stoner buddy-comedy she's working on.
It’s been interesting to see you growing into your womanhood via social media. You’ve really been changing, evolving and learning. Do you find it challenging to express yourself in such a public space?
Absolutely and I think that’s why Snapchat is such a nice thing because it comes and it goes. It’s also just for viewing and not for all of these comments. It’s not normal for us to see people right there in our face like that. On someone’s Instagram, it’s so easy for you to try and judge them or figure them out. It’s such a weird thing and social media is still so new to us. I feel like that it's not always the best way for someone to easily evolve—with people commenting on things every little step of the way. Snapchat allows people to be involved and go on that journey of your evolution with you if they want to but they can’t interrupt your process.
You’re being silly, having fun with your friends, getting your hair done, talking about how exhausted you are, having candid car rides with your mom all on your snap story. How do you remain yourself and stay in touch with who you are?
My mom always told me as a child, have a relationship with God. Very early on, I would just pray, and talk, and speak aloud and get comfortable with myself and comfortable with my spirit. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve transitioned into meditation or yoga and things like that but ultimately it’s just being real with who you are. There’s a point that you reach in your life when it’s like, “What am I gonna do to reach my goals? How am I going to get my dreams completed?” You need to be a hundred with yourself. If you’re being fake you need to be like, “I’m being fake.” I think I just reached the point where I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from pursuing my dreams and sharing what I had to share with the world. The ambition from that has allowed me to be close to who I really am.
"I feel like there’s nothing I can share too much about in terms of my creative process as long as it doesn’t take away that magic from the people."
Do you ever feel like you share too much?
No, not necessarily. I don’t feel like I share too much. You know, I feel like you can never share too much. I feel like there’s nothing I can share too much about in terms of my creative process as long as it doesn’t take away that magic. I feel like if you have creative things to share, you can share, share, share.
I just watched a recent snap where you said, “Whatever your heart is in, you better go for it.” You’re constantly putting in work, in the studio, Grease Live! rehearsals... you’re invested in so many things. What can we expect from your new projects that you’re going for in 2016?
I’ve been working on my album. But right after Broadway, I started writing my first book and I’m actually working on the manuscript for that now. I was also in the midst of writing a screenplay. I just put it in my heart to share with my snapchatters like, what you do, the things you want and the things that you’re going for they’re not always going to happen immediately. But you really have to really be patient with yourself and your passion projects and really follow through.
Where do you get that work ethic from? I’m like, how does she sleep? You’re always doing something.
Right that’s a true thing too—I do have to make conscious effort to stop. I run on passion and that’s what guides me and that’s what gives me a lot of energy in my life. One time on my Snapchat, my voice was gone because I overworked it. So yeah, that happens. Sometimes you do get overworked and you have to stop. My work ethic comes from me simply loving what I do. That’s why I always try to express—the need to follow your passion and what excites you.
All these things, they’re related to your creativity in different ways. You’re dancing, you’re doing Broadway, Grease: Live, and you’re still making music. What can we expect from the album?
It’s going to allow the people who don’t know this side of me to really see who I am outside of my acting career, my personality, things I like to do and also how I grew to be the woman that I can be. That’s a big important thing that I want to display in my music, whether it be in the complete album, or mixtapes that I do beforehand. I want to them to see and understand the journey of where I was and how I got to be the way that I am now.
In a few of your snaps, you’ve spoke about the importance of not accepting the shame that society likes to place on young women for expressing our sexuality. How did you reach that level of confidence at this point in your life?
Because I really got tired. I’m a big quote person and I saw this quote that said, “I let it go because it was too heavy.” That’s really it. It was just simply too heavy. I remember the first time that I lost my virginity, really the first thought that I had was, “Thank God it’s gone.” Meaning I felt like in order to be who I was, I had to hold onto a virginity that made me more of a woman than the next or any more of a good girl than the next. It was as if I put all these societal holds on myself when in actuality, it didn’t do anything but make me more unhappy, more stressed and more pressured. Then I realized, John, James, Jessica, Betty… whoever else, they’re not going to bed with me at night. I’m going to bed with me at night. I just felt like, you know what? I’m going to express myself in the way that I feel comfortable and anyone wants to judge—then screw them. That’s really how I felt because I got so tired of everyone trying to tell me how to be. It just got really, old.
In the music are you channeling that same expression?
Absolutely. In different forms. Sometimes it sounds like attitude, love making, sometimes it sounds like I’m just having fun. It’ll be different expressions of that but all of these things that we feel or we don’t always talk about it. A lot of it’s the strength that isn’t expressed or isn’t shown in young women that I want to express.
“I Don’t Belong To You” wasn’t just that to situation. “I Don’t Belong To You” was about every young girl in America, most young girls think that way. I’m happy because I feel like a part of the generation that is really working towards breaking down those social issues and I think that we can attribute some of that to the social media era because you’re able to get to young people who think the way you think. So for me, “I Don’t Belong To You,” was like every girl out there that’s tired of their family, society or anyone trying to control their individuality. And every young guy too. I’m a girl so I can really tell from a female perspective but guys too.
I saw that you're working on something called “The Keke Palmer Project” from your snaps at a table reading. How are you showing your creativity in that?
The Keke Palmer Project is the working title. It’s a project for me that I wanted to do with my homegirl that allowed me to showcase a young female, specifically a young African-American female in a way that we haven’t seen. We don’t often get to see that funny, goofy, silly and young side. So, the movie is a mix between a Friday and a Pineapple Express. So it’s about two female stoners, Lauren and Ariel who end up getting caught in some type of scandal. I don’t want to give you everything but the movie is about their journey of finding their way and coming of age and where they want to go and who they want to be in their lives. It’s a coming of age story with the backdrop of some action-packed stuff and funny young folks stuff.
So it’s going to be a movie?
Yes, it’s going to be a movie. My thing is, I get what I wanna get done so I will find a way.