With a starring role in this fall’s much-anticipated Fox series Scream Queens and a new album in the works, former child star Keke Palmer shows the world she’s all grown up.
“I was very much a social butterfly,” says actress Keke Palmer, who plays Zayday in this fall’s Scream Queens.
“I had a very Midwestern childhood,” actress Keke Palmer says of growing up in south suburban Robbins, Illinois. “I remember going through pathways to get to my grandmother’s house. When I would make stuff in my EasyBake, I would drop her off cookies,” she laughs. One of four children, Palmer was always an extrovert—“I was very much a social butterfly,” she notes—who began singing in her church as a child. Acting, however, “came out of nowhere,” she says. Her mother read about auditions for The Lion King in the paper, and, knowing her daughter’s penchant for music, asked her if she’d like to audition. It was through that first experience that Palmer found her true passion. A small role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business opened the floodgates; soon she was cast as the lead in 2006’s Akeelah and theBee, a feel-good story about an inner-city child who participates in the national spelling bee.
But unlike some child actors, Palmer has made the transition into meatier roles seamlessly. This fall she stars in Ryan Murphy’s highly anticipated, campy horror series Scream Queens. “I’m playing Zayday, a full-honors scholarship [student] from Oakland. She’s very strong and focused, but open at the same time,” Palmer says. Working with auteur Murphy is also a major achievement for the actress. “For me, it’s kind of unbelievable. I’m so thankful for the opportunity, and that pushes me every day on set.”
In her limited time off, Palmer is also revisiting her first love, music, with an album set to drop in early 2016. Although she released records as a teen in 2007, this time around it’s the artist herself who is calling the shots. “I have more creative control, more of a voice and a hand in it,” she says. “[Now] I’m an adult; people listen to what I have to say.”