Keke Palmer on the appeal of ‘nope,’ Jordan Peele and being myself

Daniel Kaluuya, left, Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea star in “Nope.”

Photo: Universal Pictures, HO/TNS

Keke Palmer doesn’t want to be “one-note”.

It makes sense: In two decades in Hollywood, she’s played everything including a Spelling Bee champion, a stripper, a slave woman, and the first black Cinderella on Broadway. In her new film “Nope,” she plays a Hollywood horse trainer facing off potentially deadly invaders. Naturally.

On-screen, Palmer has committed to rediscovering herself time and again as she continues her chameleon-like streak through business.

Since her big break as Queen Latifah’s niece in the 2004 comedy film “Barbershop 2: Back in Business”, 28-year-old Palmer has appeared in films, on television shows, through albums and EPs, and in live music performances. has attracted the audience. At age 20, she became the youngest talk-show host in television history with the premiere of “Just Keke”.

Her choices have made her particularly ubiquitous on the Internet. A sound bite of her greeting Megan Thee Stallion at last year’s Met Gala — where Palmer was hosting red carpet coverage for Vogue — became the backdrop for a trendy TikTok melody. And the Emmy-winning actress said “sorry this guy” when she didn’t recognize the photo of former Vice President Dick Cheney during a 2019 lie detector test with Vanity Fair, which became a social media meme staple.

Whether on set or online, Palmer’s personality is infectious, as seen in her performance in “Nope,” which has been met with glowing reviews and gleeful anticipation.

Palmer plays Daniel Kaluuya’s more silent and serious character, OJ’s curious sister, adventurer and entrepreneur Emerald Heywood, in the latest film written, directed and co-produced by “Get Out” filmmaker Jordan Peele. The horror flick follows the two as they attempt to capture evidence—and monetize their discovery—of a mysterious flying object that has terrorized their family’s horse farm. To do this, the siblings must put aside their conflicting behaviors and enlist the help of electronics store employee Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and cameraman Antler Holst (Michael Wincott).

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Palmer spoke with The Washington Post about the many jobs she has, the pitfalls of living superficially, and why it was so refreshing to work on her first Peel Project.

Q: How is the role of Emerald Heywood different from your other roles? Why is it important for characters like him to be shown in films?

a: Emerald is present in life. I think it’s so important to show diverse black female characters. In my life, I am also the kind of woman who staggers on both masculine and feminine energies. I pull from both ends, and I think most of us are that way in life, no matter what gender we are. It’s also really important to appear in film and television. I really like a character who redefines the way people think about women.

It also played a role in my balancing what strength looked like for the Emerald, because she just isn’t strong. She is soft. I think it’s important to be a black woman as well; I don’t want to be one-note and strapped, because it’s an annoying stereotype.

Q: You’ve talked about colorism in the entertainment industry before. What does an opportunity of this scale mean to you?

a: I’m not the first or only dark-skinned woman to have had opportunities on this scale, but I think it just continues to redefine the concept of what beauty is, what power is, and being a leading lady. What is meant by and someone else who is seen as a fiery leader.

All these different levels of representation are important. People see themselves on-screen or see people who are related to them, and this continues to give positive reinforcement. This does not mean that every [story] have to be like that. But I think when it comes to this kind of thing, we have a lot less than I think we should and we can, so I’m grateful to be a part of it, to play in that space. to be able to.

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Q: You were looking forward to working with Jordan Peele. What attracted you to his work, and what was it like working with him on set?

a: He’s just so thoughtful, and he has something to say. I really connect with Peele’s films: his approach to filmmaking is that of an artist, like someone creating paintings or sculptures. It’s very open-ended, but it has a straightforward approach. It is special. When you dive really deep into it, you’ll realize that each stroke was connected to the next. And yet, within that, it’s up to your interpretation. It’s just so unique.

I can be very journalist and observant. I think half of me was really watching, learning, and making room for mentorship, to learn from Jordan’s relationships with his producers and… actors. I felt like I was going to some art school, and I got an internship to watch a Jordan Peele movie.

He empowers other people on the set. He has a clear vision, but he also trusts the people he has hired. As an actor, I just wanted to make sure I was listening and making sure I could tell his story, because I also really believed in what he was trying to do. It’s just a very cool and really collaborative process.

Q: What do you hope people will take from this film?

a: There’s a lot here. I will love [for people] To take away the brother and sister relationship, and how beautiful some of these platonic relationships are in our lives: the ones we take lightly, the ones we don’t call necessary until you really need them; People who really know us and see us.

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I want people to see the value we put into being validated, or to be popular, or to make a moment for ourselves, rather than the value that we have. The kind of look we really want to look like doesn’t come from popularity. It comes down to the actual connection.

And then [I want people to] Know how exploitation is not great. We need to be more aware of what our intentions are as it relates to the things that fascinate us and the way we are interacting with it. What does this really say about you? To see something – whether it is beautiful, scary, miraculous or interesting – what does it say about you as your first step in taking advantage of it?

Q: You are versatile and wear a lot of hats. You are an actress (“Lightear”), producer (“Alice”), show host (“Password”) and competition show judge (“Legendary”). What would you say is your favorite right now?

a: I’m glad you said “right now”, because that’s exactly what it is. I’m really feeling persona-hosting and building, because I’m really feeling myself and myself more than anyone else portrays me. Even though my personality in hosting is still a demonstrative aspect of who I am, it’s a little closer to who I am than playing a character or role.

the productive aspect really allows me to be more [toned]Down version of myself, which is awesome too. I am in an uplifting phase of trying to reinvent myself and whatever the next challenging thing could possibly be on camera, and am preparing to enhance my skill set in other areas. Because I know it’s going to make me a better artist all around.

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