Over the past year, she’s graced the stage as Broadway’s first black Cinderella, stolen TV lovers’ hearts as the stylish and witty Zayday Williams on Scream Queens and even gone viral in a couple of dance videos on YouTube — which include her super sexy tribute to the late Aaliyah. But as she gears up for her next act as Marty Maraschino in Fox’s Grease: Live musical, KeKe Palmer is again sharing the spotlight of her inspiring career with the next generation of young girls who aspire to follow their performing arts dreams much like she did as a young girl growing up in Illinois.
Amid her rehearsals for Grease: Live in Los Angeles, California, Palmer assisted with the launch of the So You Think You Can Dance, Sing and Act Contest with the charity organization Saving Our Daughters. The competition was created to encourage creativity and build positive self-esteem among the organization’s participants, with Palmer challenging the young girls that participate in the group’s Saving Our Cinderellas mentorship program to record their best impersonations of her Grease: Live character and upload the videos to YouTube.
And speaking to OKMagazine.com just two days before the debut of Grease: Live, Palmer said she was overjoyed to have yet another chance to connect with her young fans in such an exciting way.
“Saving Our Daughters is one of many charities that I work with throughout my career,” she said. “I love to be around children especially since I was homeschooled. It is awesome whenever I can support children in following their hearts just like many people helped me along the way.”
But her work with the contest was just one of the topics the beauty dished on as she opened up about the need for more diversity in Hollywood, her plans for her upcoming album why there is nothing going down in her DMs.
OKMagazine.com: How did you get involved with Saving our Daughters’ So You Think You Can Dance, Sing and Act contest?
Keke Palmer: To my knowledge, my mom was contacted by the founder of the Saving Our Daughters Charity, Curtis Benjamin, who I have worked with since I was 12. The contest was already in motion. He just wanted our blessings. He expressed that the children were excited about Grease: Live and wanted to be a part of supporting my performance. I was flattered.
OKMagazine.com: Do you think having the contest’s participants impersonate your Grease: Live character, Marty Maraschino, will inspire young girls of color to seek out more performing arts opportunities?
Palmer: I am not sure about that. I did not create the contest or have anything to do with the guidelines. However, I do believe that it is important for people to see others that look like them in every field because that is reflective of the world we live in today. We are a big melting pot of many different cultures and that is what makes our country so great!
OKMagazine.com: What’s the status of your new album?
Palmer: We plan to release a single very soon in February. We’re very busy finishing up the album right now. And after Grease: Live, we will go full blast in the studio grinding it out.
OKMagazine.com: What can fans expect from Scream Queens’ second season?
Palmer: I do not know what the plot twists will be, but you can expect excellence. Ryan Murphy and his team are amazing!
OKMagazine.com: You’ve been very open about the topic of not labeling your sexuality. What do you hope people will take from that message?
Palmer: If you are referring to my music video for my song “I Don’t Belong To You,” I wrote the song about my evolving into adulthood. Being a child entertainer, you often feel controlled by many different entities telling you what you can and cannot do, when the truth is you can do what you want to do as long as you are following your heart.
OKMagazine.com: Your recent dance videos to Aailyah’s “Try Again” and Yo Gotti’s “Down in the DM” have been viral hits. Were you surprised by the response to the clips and do you have anymore videos in the works?
Palmer: Yes, I was surprised! Honestly, I was just doing something from my heart! I love Aaliyah. She actually passed away very close to my 8th birthday. I remember crying all that day. I was just paying tribute to someone that I have been a fan of for most of my life, and I was very happy that people appreciated that. And absolutely I plan to do more dance videos because they are fun!
OKMagazine.com: And do you have any crazy stories about DMs you’ve received?
Palmer: No, not really. I actually receive very thoughtful DMs from fans.
OKMagazine.com: What are your thoughts on the Oscars boycott controversy?
Palmer: I think it is about the lack of content. There are just not enough projects featuring people of color. Hopefully, with all this awareness, we will soon see changes. That would be awesome!