Keke Palmer didn’t think Hollywood would be easy after earning a SAG award nomination for her role in the 2004 TV miniseries “The Wool Cap” and starring in the critically-acclaimed 2006 film “Akeelah and the Bee” before she was even a teenager, but the Harvey native and former Robbins resident admits her early success did make her a bit naive.
Palmer was under the impression that every film would have an impact on its audience like “Akeelah,” which revolved around a poor girl who participates in the national spelling bee. Now 18 years old, Palmer has learned those sorts of scripts are hard to come by. As for the SAG nomination, for outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries, Palmer said she didn’t really even know what it was when she was nominated along with Glenn Close, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron and Patricia Heaton.
“I didn’t understand it,” Palmer said over the phone from her home in Los Angeles recently. “My mom had to explain it to me. I think back now and am like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t realize how great of an award that is to be nominated for.’ “
That’s not to say Palmer is another child star who has struggled to find work as she got older. She has remained in the spotlight thanks to her starring role on the Nickelodeon series “True Jackson, VP” and co-starring roles in the films “The Longshots” and “Joyful Noise.” She also lent her voice to the upcoming animated sequel “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”
But in the upcoming modern-day Cinderella TV movie, “Rags,” which airs Monday on Nickelodeon, Palmer plays the pop star love interest of an aspiring singer (Max Schneider) who lives with his cruel step-father and — you guessed it — annoying step-brothers. Palmer and actor Nick Cannon served as producers on the film.
“I made the dialogue feel more genuine and real. I also had input on the wardrobes,” Palmer said of her producer responsibilities. “The difficult part for me was telling other people what to do. I usually do my job as an actress and am done. Here, I had to say ‘Hey, this needs to get done.’ I never want to be disrespectful and talk to an adult that way.”
On the other hand, Palmer does like having a say in her work — especially when it comes to her music. She has put out a mixtape for which she wrote and produced the songs. She said it has a pop and R&B sound and feels it will be more authentic than her 2007 debut album, “So Uncool” (Palmer also sings in “Rags” and is featured on the soundtrack).
“As a kid, there are a lot of things you can’t do,” Palmer said. “But now I’m growing up and doing things closer to my age. I’m excited about the new range of roles. I’m excited to talk about certain things in my music and acting career that I wasn’t able to talk about before.”
Which part of being an adult in Hollywood is she least excited about?
“Sex scenes,” Palmer said without hesitation. “You wouldn’t think I’m a private person, but I am when it comes to something this intimate. If it’s a guy I don’t know well, I would be nervous. I hate to say never. If it’s done in a classy way, I would be OK with it. But I’m not going to rush into it. I prefer to do things slowly and gradually, so that it’s not so much of a shock. The problem with some young movie stars is that they move too quickly.”