Born on August 26, 1993, in Harvey, Illinois, famed actress/singer Keke Palmer began performing at an early age, wowing audiences at her local church. She earned her fist taste of national exposure with a small role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), later starring in Akeelah and the Bee (2006).
Famed actress and singer Keke Palmer was born Lauren Keyana Palmer on August 26, 1993, in Harvey, Illinois. Palmer began performing at the age of 5, wowing audiences at her church in her hometown of Robbins, Illinois.
Performing is certainly in Palmer's genetic make-up. Her parents, Sharon and Larry Palmer, who met in drama class, had both worked as professional actors before settling into more regular full-time jobs. Larry went on to have a career at a plastics manufacturing company; Sharon worked with middle school age autism students.
The jump from church stage to the big screen happened quickly for Palmer. She earned valuable experience and exposure performing at a stage show at a popular Chicago tourist destination.
From there, Palmer was cast for a small role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), in which her aunt was played by Queen Latifah. Palmer's role in the film encouraged her parents to relocate the family to California, so Keke could pursue a career in show business
"I knew opportunities would pop up if I just kept on trying," said Palmer, who unsuccessfully auditioned for a Broadway show at age 10. "I talked it over with my sister, and I didn't have anything to bribe her. I asked her, 'Please?' I knew she was excited about going to high school and I didn't want to take that away from her—but I really wanted my dream to come true. She said, 'You're really talented, and I think this could be good for you.'"
It wasn't long before bigger acting opportunities came Palmer's way. Her early credits include a string of appearances on several television shows, including ER, Cold Case and Law & Order.
In 2004, Palmer starred opposite William H. Macy in the made-for-TV movie The Wool Cap, a performance that earned her the distinction of being youngest nominee for the Screen Actors Guild's best leading actress honor.
Other work soon followed, including Madea's Family Reunion (2006) and Akeelah and the Bee (2006), which tells the story of a young girl and her pursuit of the National Spelling Bee championship. The film, starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, garnered Palmer significant critical praise. The soundtrack also featured Palmer's first recording, "All My Girlz." The song led Atlantic Records to bring Palmer into the studio for more recording time. The singer's first album, So Cool, a mix of R&B tracks, was released in 2007.
In recent years, Palmer has continued to maintain a full-time acting schedule. In 2007, she co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson and Eva Mendes in The Cleaner. A year later, she headlined The Longshots; she played Jasmine Plummer, the first girl to quarterback an all-boys football team in the Pop Warner nationals, in the film.
In 2008, Palmer was cast as the star of True Jackson, VP, a Nickelodeon program about a 15-year-old girl who becomes vice president of a billion-dollar fashion company.
With her versatility as an actress and singer, Palmer is sure to be gracing screens and stages for years to come.
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