Akeelah And The Bee
Kicking off her acting career with a small, but significant role as Queen Latifah's niece in the 2004 movie “Barbershop 2,” multi award-winning American actress and singer Keke Palmer soon gained praise with her role as Lou in the Emmy nominated, made for TV movie “The Wool Cap” (2004), opposite her favorite actor William H. Macy. Delivering an awe-inspiring performance, she was handed a NAACP Image nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination. She starred in the 2006 award winning film “Akeelah and the Bee,” from which she won a Black Movie Award, a Black Reel Award, a ShoWest Convention Award, an Image Award and a Young Artist Award, and Mary Thomas in the successful Disney Channel original movie “Jump In” (2007). Palmer also has guest starred in such TV series as “Cold Case,” “ER,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “House of Payne.” Her more recent and upcoming film credits include “Cleaner” (2007) and “Comeback” (2008).
As an accomplished singer, 5' 4½” Palmer has recorded soundtracks for films like “Akeelah And The Bee,” “Night At The Museum” and “Jump In!” Her debut album, “So Uncool,” was launched on September 18, 2007. Some songs released from the album are “Keep It Movin',” “All my Girlz” and “It’s my Turn now.”
Palmer is close friends with Carlysia Levert, the daughter of the late Gerald Levert. She loves eating pizza and mentions her favorite actor is William H. Macy. Telling of her experience when she worked with him in “The Wool Cap,” she said, “It was really good because he's really humble. He's a very nice person and a funny guy.”
Palmer also enjoys dancing and watching her favorite TV show “That's So Raven.” She enjoys listening to music and is a fan of Usher and Beyonce.
Childhood and Family:
Lauren Keyana Palmer, professionally known as Keke Palmer, was born on August 26, 1993, in Harvey, Illinois, to a polyurethane company worker and a high school teacher who works with children with autism. Her parents are both former actors from the Black Ensemble Theater. Keke has an older sister named L'Oreal, from whom she got the nickname “Keke” when she was still an infant. She also has two other siblings. Keke attended St. Benedict Grammar School, but she is now home schooled by her mother. In 2004, her family relocated to Los Angeles so Keke could pursue an acting career.
The Wool Cap
Keke Palmer started singing at her church choir when she was five years old. A year later, she performed a solo in her kindergarten play and amazed the audiences with her voice. By age 10, she had auditioning for the 2003 “American Juniors,” an American Idol spin-off, but she found no success with it.
In 2004, the young girl made her big screen debut as the niece of Queen Latifah in the installment “Barbershop 2: Back in Business.” Recognizing her potential, the film's producers suggested Palmer's parents take their daughter to Los Angeles to pursue acting more professionally. Subsequently, Palmer and her supportive family moved and within six weeks, she landed a guest stint in the critically applauded CBS series “Cold Case” (2004), which she followed with another appearance in an episode of “Strong Medicine” (also 2004). She also booked a national K-Mart commercial.
The same year, Palmer was also picked from a national search to act opposite William H. Macy in the TNT television movie “The Wool Cap.” As Lou, she was nominated for a 2005 Screen Actors Guild Award in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries and became the youngest actress to ever receive the nomination. The role also brought Keke a Young Artist nomination and an Image nomination.
In 2005, Palmer starred with Andre Kinney in the comedy TV film “Keke & Jamal,” directed by Henry Chan. She also portrayed Kenya Russell in the television movie “Knights of the South Bronx” and appeared in episodes of “E.R,” “Second Time Around” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (all 2005).
Palmer's huge breakthrough arrived the following year when she was cast as Akeelah Anderson in the family movie “Akeelah And The Bee.” Under the direction of Doug Atchison, she outstandingly played a young girl from south Los Angeles who tries to win a national spelling bee. She gained a number of good reviews for her performance. In addition, she took home such awards as a 2006 Black Movie for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, a 2006 Black Reel for Best Actress, a 2006 ShoWest Convention for Rising Star of the Year, a 2007 Image for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture and a 2007 Young Artist for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress. Among her costars in the award-winning film were veteran actors Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.
Still in 2006, Palmer could be seen playing Nikki in “Medea's Family Reunion,” directed, written by and starring Tyler Perry. The film was a hit at the box office for two straight weeks. Next, the talented young player was hired to star alongside Corbin Bleu in the impressive television film “Jump In” (2007), which became the Disney Channel No. 1 hit film. Later that same year, she made a guest appearance in an episode of the Tyler Perry-written series “House of Payne.”
Palmer also tried to establish her singing career. She performed the song “All My Girlz” for the soundtrack of “Akeelah and the Bee” and did another soundtrack for the Ben Stiller hit movie “Night at the Museum” (2006), in which her song “Tonight” was featured as the opening song on the end credits. She also sang at the 2006 Home Depot Center in Carson, California, for VH1's “Save the Music Battle of the High School Marching Bands,” a performance that became her first stadium performance in front of thousands of people. Palmer enjoyed even more popularity with “It's My Turn Now,” from the “Jump In!” soundtrack.
Now signed with Atlantic Records, Palmer released her debut album, “So Uncool,” on September 18, 2007. The album peaked at No. 86 on the R&B charts and has sold 8,000 copies. It consists of songs like “Footworkin,” “Keep it Movin,” “Skin Deep,” “First Crush,” “Jump In,” “All My Girlz” and “It's My Turn Now.” When asked why she named the album “So Uncool,” Palmer explained, “Being different, some people may think that you're so uncool, but at the same time that makes you cool because you're just being yourself. So the whole thing with the name is just (about) being you, being different. That describes me, so I named it 'So Uncool.'”
Recently, in December 2007, Palmer costarred with Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris and Eva Mendes in the crime/thriller movie “Cleaner,” by director Renny Harlin. She will be cast as Jasimine in the drama film “Comeback” (2008), helmed by Fred Durst. Ice Cube, Tasha Smith, Jill Marie Jones and Malcolm Goodwin also star in the upcoming movie.
Young Artist: Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress, “Akeelah and the Bee,” 2007
Image: Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, “Akeelah and the Bee,” 2007
Black Reel: Best Actress, “Akeelah and the Bee,” 2007
Black Movie: Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, “Akeelah and the Bee,” 2006
ShoWest Convention: Special Award, Rising Star of the Year, 2006