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Lauren Keyana "Keke" Palmer (born August 26, 1993) is an American actress and singer.

Early Life[]

Lauren Keyana Palmer was born on August 26, 1993, in Harvey, Illinois and raised in nearby Robbins, Illinois. She grew up in a Catholic household. Her parents, Sharon and Lawrence "Larry" Palmer, who met in drama school, had both worked as professional actors before settling into full-time jobs. Her father works for a polyurethane company, and her mother is a high school teacher who works with autistic children. Her father is a Catholic deacon. The nickname "Keke" is not a shortening of "Keyana": according to Palmer, her name came about because her older sister had an imaginary friend named Keke before she was born. Palmer first sang in a church and performed at a stage show at a Chicago tourist destination. In 2002, Palmer auditioned for a stage production of The Lion King at age nine.

Career[]

In 2004, she gained her first film role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business. In 2005, Palmer signed a record deal with Atlantic Records. That same year, she was featured in the television film Knights of the South Bronx, as well as starring in the television series Second Time Around and ER. That same year, producer Ralph Farquhar helped Palmer book the starring role in a Disney Channel pilot titled Keke and Jamal. The pilot was not picked up, and never aired.

In 2006, Palmer had her acting breakthrough starring in the film Akeelah and the Bee, playing the titular Akeelah, a bright 11-year-old who comes from a poor neighborhood and competes in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times wrote that Palmer "makes an appealing heroine". For the role, she won a Black Reel Award and an NAACP Image Award. She also had a supporting role in the 2006 film Madea's Family Reunion.The following year, Palmer appeared in the thriller Cleaner. She portrayed a lead role in the television film Jump In! Palmer also starred in two television programs Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Just Jordan. Palmer released her debut album So Uncool on September 18, 2007. The album charted at number 86 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

In 2013, Palmer portrayed Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas in the TLC biopic, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, which aired in October on VH1. She next starred in the horror film Animal; it was released on June 17, 2014. She then recurred during the second season of Showtime's drama series Masters of Sex, portraying Coral, a nanny. That same year, Palmer hosted a daytime talk show on BET titled Just Keke. In doing so, she became one of the youngest talk show hosts in television history; the show itself has been regarded as "groundbreaking" and "refreshing". In September 2014, Palmer became the first African American to star as the title character in the musical Cinderella on Broadway. She performed her final show during the closing night of the show's run on January 4, 2015. Later that year, Palmer announced that she had signed with Island Records.

Between September 2015 and December 2016, she starred as Zayday Williams in the horror comedy series Scream Queens, created by Ryan Murphy. In January 2016, Palmer starred as Marty Maraschino in the television special Grease: Live. Rolling Stone's Britany Spanos regarded Palmer's performance "a standout" and highlighted her "assertiveness, confidence and biting sense of humor". In June, Palmer released Waited to Exhale, an album she wrote during her time on True Jackson, VP that went unreleased due to label issues and her "anxiety-driven hesitance". On November 4, Palmer released her second extended play, titled Lauren, with a 17-minute short film of the same name being released exclusively on Billboard's website. In 2017, Palmer released her memoir, I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice. That same year, she joined the drama series Berlin Station during its second season.

Personal Life[]

Palmer works with the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of the American charity Cool To Be Smart program, speaking to children about the importance of learning. She is also a supporter of Urban Farming and the Girl Scouts. She has worked with the YWCA and Saving Our Daughters. As of 2010, Palmer has been a representative for the Saving Our Daughters project, an anti-bullying campaign. She is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was included in the Time's 100 Next list in November 2019, which "spotlights 100 rising stars who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, science, health and more." In 2020, she marched in Hollywood, California, as part of the George Floyd protests. That same year, she addressed the movement during her opening monologue at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards.

While hosting Saturday Night Live on December 3, 2022, Palmer announced she was pregnant with her first child with boyfriend Darius Jackson. Their son was born in February 2023.

Filmography[]

Animation Dubbing[]

Animated Series[]

  • Winx Club (2004-2019) - Aisha (Nickelodeon Dub)

Animated Films[]

External Links[]

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