Keke Palmer: Cool Kid

At 14, Keke Palmer has almost a dozen movies under her belt and has made appearances on network television shows Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and The Cold Case Files. For the last five years, she’s quietly been filling her resume with appearances and bursts of notoriety for projects like The Wool Cap and Akeelah and the Bee. After being the youngest lead actress nominee to date for a Screen Actors Guild Award, it is only fitting that she has a few more tricks up her sleeve. The most recent of her efforts being an album on Atlantic Records titled So Uncool. A singer at heart, Palmer’s vocal endeavors were sidelined at age nine when she was cast opposite Ice Cube and Queen Latifah for a small role in Barbershop 2. Her family was convinced that she could be successful as an actress and relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles. The move is still proving to be worthwhile as Keke has never had problems finding movie or television roles, but her love for music has literally waited in the wings. She has provided several songs for soundtracks, but never anything as involved as her debut album. Going so far as to co-write a few tracks with her sister, So Uncool is totally Keke, and she even took the time out to explain why. AllHipHop.Com Alternatives: For your first major release, how have you been handling the process?Keke Palmer: I’ve been busy doing a lot of radio and interviews, but it has been fun. It took me almost two years to complete the album, because I was filming two movies as well. It was a new experience for me, but I really enjoyed working in the studio.AHHA: Who did the writing and production?Keke: I worked with Babyface, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Clutch and a lot of other artists. Also, JR Rotem who does a lot of stuff for Sean Kingston. I actually wrote four tracks with my sister too.AHHA: Have you always written your own songs?Keke: I grew up around music, so I always knew that I could write if I really put my mind to it. AHHA: Being seen as an actress, was it always in the plans for you to release a CD?Keke: My mom used to write and sing all of the time. I remember at five years old being a singer in the church choir. I always thought that when I got older, I would be a singer. Acting kind of just happened first, but singing was my first passion. AHHA: How did the whole acting thing develop? Keke: I auditioned for The Lion King off-Broadway, because it was both a singing and acting role. I realized that not only could I act, but that I really wanted to do it. All of this took place in my hometown of Chicago, which is where Barbershop 2 was filmed. I auditioned for the movie and everything just came together. AHHA: The Wool Cap followed not too far behind that role? Keke: Yes, it was a TNT movie with William H. Macy. I was nominated for a SAG award for that. It was amazing because I’d just moved to California. My first week out there, I got a K-Mart commercial, the second week I booked Cold Case and on the third I got the job for The Wool Cap. I was really excited about getting that because we were unsure about what was going to happen when we moved. It was a longshot for things to happen the way that they did. I just sat back and was like “Wow, I really did it.” The SAG nomination just proved to me that I should keep going with this, it showed me that I was moving in the right direction.AHHA: On your part, how much convincing did it take for your parents to leave Chicago? Keke: My mom didn’t tell me at the time, but while I was working on Barbershop 2, the producers were telling her that we should move to California. They felt that I could make it, so they kept telling her that I’d have a better chance out there. A little while after that, we went for a visit and three major agencies wanted me to work with them. My parents decided that maybe the producers were right. After a few weeks of thinking about it, we all came to the same conclusion. We drove for three nights and four days, and there I was in Los Angeles. It was all worth it.AHHA: How excited are you about being both an actress and singer? Keke: It’s great! My album is out now, it’s called So Uncool and my first single is “Keep It Movin.” It’s a really good record. It’s about grown up things, to things that only younger people experience. It might put you in the mind of Brandy, TLC or Aaliyah. Something along those lines. AHHA: Any particular reason for the title? Keke: For me, being uncool is what makes you cool. It is all about being yourself and being different. I wanted everyone to understand that. I’m uncool. AHHA: You’ve always stayed very busy, what else do you have in the works?Keke: The album just came out, so lots of new stuff from that. I have a new movie in the fall and I should definitely be on tour soon. You can find out more about everything through my official website KekePalmer.Com and I have some fansites too. The video for “Keep It Movin” will be in rotation on MTV very soon, so keep a look out for me.