Keke Palmer On Sean Garrett, Repping for the Chicago Bears and Introducing ‘Lauren’
Keke Palmer has successfully navigated the the treacherous obstacle course that can come with transitioning from child star to grown-ass superstar; and the thriving triple threat — actress, singer and social media extraordinaire — is making it look easy.
Starring on Scream Queens, entertaining her Snapchat followers and practicing her dance moves, Palmer is always into something. And lately, she’s been in the studio, recording music “old school” style and living out her dream. With her upcoming EP Lauren and a fresh partnership with the NFL, she’s clearly focused, man. And she talked to the Boombox about her love for “Da Bears,” fitness regimens and why she wanted to work with Sean Garrett.
The Boombox: You recently partnered with the NFL to represent its Women’s Apparel Collection – and you get to do it alongside Adrienne Bailon. What made you decide to join forces with the athletic corporation?
Well, I’m the type of person that loves fashion, but I also like making sure my fashion is representative of me. I felt like NFL Apparel is a great way for me to add my personality to what I’m wearing – representing the Chicago Bears and making it my own. Everybody can rock it differently.
Are you the type of person that goes crazy, screaming at the TV when the Bears are on?
I’m definitely the type of person that will be involved in screaming for sure. [The game] really puts my anxiety in a chokehold.
What’s been the best part about being an ambassador so far?
Probably the girl time – the girl fun. I think that’s the best thing about the NFL. When you think about going to games, and you think about sports in general, people love watching the sport and…the time that [they] get with [their] family and your friends.
Your social media is always poppin.’ You post a lot of moments in your life and consistently snap your workouts. When did you decide to be such an advocate for fitness?
I look up to Will Smith, and how he went from a rapper to also an actor to also a comedic actor to also an action guy. I love that. So, I wanted to prepare myself for a future like that. I slowly but surely started training from the time I was 17 until now, and it’s progressively gotten more and more intense – in the best way. Last year I did a movie called Pimp, and it intensified my workouts and my eating and that really whipped my body into crazy shape. I’m happy to accomplish the things that I set out to do.
Do you have 5 favorite workouts or drills you like to do?
I definitely love to do crunches – just normal, basic crunches. Then sometimes I’ll get in my push-up position and I’ll crunch my legs in from side-to-side and also I’ll donkey kicks in between each set of what I do. [Then], I’ll do some burpees and maybe some squats.
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Explain the inspiration behind Lauren. It’s named after your legal birth name, why?
Telling [fans] who I am outside of the perception has always been what created the girl they see today named Keke – where I came from, what my family life is like, what my personality is like. People only see my interviews or they see my characters, and in my interviews, I’m not gonna be how I am with my friends ‘cause this is my job. They never get to see or know the girl outside of those real specific scenarios – this is the first time they really get to see [me]. When I came up with the title I thought, ‘What epitomizes that introduction to the girl I’ve always been and the foundation of who I am and the reason why everything else works: why I can understand a character like Akeelah, why I can understand all the things that I think about?’ This is why. This is my story.
It’s been nine years since your last project. Why was this the time to release a new project?
Timing is a process. I allowed myself just to take my time and get everything out and get this project the way that I wanted. I really focused each step of the way. I never got too ahead of myself – I just took the time and that led me here. It’s been about two years in the making.
Sean Garrett produced the entire project, right?
Yup, he produced it, wrote it, and we did it very old school. Me and him, together, chillin’, talkin’, and telling him everything going on with me. He’s like on of my best friends now. I never knew I could really bond with somebody that way because I can be so closed off from being in the industry for so long. This was the kinda process that I wish for any artist to have this kind of relationship and this time to bond and really create with somebody like I have with Sean.
How did you decide to go with Sean for the project?
When I look at everybody he’s worked with, they’ve inspired me so much. If you think about it, he did “Yeah” for Usher, he did “Run It” for Chris Brown, “B-Day” for Beyoncé, he’s done everything. I feel like he’s been so instrumental in transitional phases in people’s careers. I feel like he has that gift that often goes thankless in the industry, which is these people that are artist developers. I’ve definitely been doing music for a long time, but I think Sean and I met each other at the right place and time, and he’s been a huge mentor for me throughout this process.
Does the cover art tell a story about a specific time in your life?
That’s my grandmother’s home. That’s where my mom grew up. All my aunts and uncles grew up in that one house. [It’s in] the town we grew up in, Robbins,[IL]. We actually had a house right behind my grandmother’s house [with] a pathway that I go through, [and] I depict it in “Jealous.” I come out of my house that I grew up in, and I’m dancing in the driveway in front of Mrs. Ford’s house. Mrs. Ford is the lady who lived across the street from me growing up that never would let us walk on her grass. I shot my dance in her driveway. Then, we end up walking by my neighborhood friends’ house. That’s what I would do as a kid. I got to depict that [all] in “Jealous,” and that was very, very therapeutic for me.
A lot of people don’t know their history like that or get to know the stories of their past, so that’s pretty cool you were able to do that.
Man, it felt so good too. I would be making up dances and do all that stuff as a kid – thank, God. I know God is real because now I’m doing a video and I’m dancing in front of the same street, walking through the same pathway with my childhood best friend, and now we’re doing an actual video, like that was actually accomplished – what I wanted to do. That’s what my [best friend] says to me, “This is what she always wanted to do, and she finally got to do it.” For us to be doing the “Jealous” video and have that moment again, it’s official. It’s very unbelievable; very spiritual.