KeKe Palmer may be only 19, but she's already doing her part to inspire the next generation of teenage girls. The talented singer and actress is currently also an ambassador for Dove Self-Esteem Weekend from October 5 through the 7th. Here, Palmer shares why Dove's mission is so dear to her heart and advice for building confident kids.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about your exciting new partnership with Dove.
KEKE PALMER: I have been doing initiatives around self-esteem and promoting good values, learning and being healthy for my generation and the youth. Dove also does that with their annual Self-Esteem Weekend, which is centered around getting mentors involved in young girls' lives and helping them have a better relationship with beauty. These are the things that I've been doing and the things that Dove has been doing and we decided that it would be a great partnership to have me get involved with their Self-Esteem Weekend. When I heard about it, I immediately jumped on board because it represents everything that I stand for.
ESSENCE.com: How do you the concept of beauty plays into our girls' self-esteem, especially in the age of social media and reality TV?
PALMER: I think it really affects them, especially when they see these people on TV and they think that they wake up looking like that. I always tell girls that I mentor that there is nothing more special about me than there is about them. The only difference is that I know that I am special just because I'm me. I always remind them that once you realize how special you are, there is nothing that you cannot do. It has nothing to do with how pretty you are, but it's only about what's on the inside and the gift that you have that no one else can have. No one else can be you as good as you. Sometimes, when I see these reality shows that really aren't real, it's easy to get caught up in that. I always remind them of that. As far as social media, I always tell my girls to be careful looking at that stuff. It was once a time where you would get bullied and people would say mean things at school, but you could go home and escape that. With the internet, Twitter and Instagram now, it's not as easy to escape it anymore. So I remind my girls to try not to look at [negative] comments. People do have a sense of entitlement and giving their opinions when they're not needed and they're only hurting someone's feelings.
ESSENCE.com: We've been hearing a lot of people speak out against bullying lately. What's your take on that and what can we teach our girls about bullying?
PALMER: I always say don't fight fire with fire. If someone's being mean to you, sometimes all they need is a smile. I send the message that we should all be loving. There is this Mother Teresa quote, "I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." That's so true. Naturally, when people get their feelings hurt it's easy for them to get negative and jump on board with that feeling. If you show someone a little love, you can eventually get them on your side, versus you getting on their side and falling into that same negative cycle.
ESSENCE.com: You're doing so much in the community while also working on new movies and music. With so much on your plate, what keeps you motivated?
PALMER: It's my family. I have a great support system and I always keep them around me when I go out of town. It does get very lonely when you're on the road a lot. I really don't know what I would do if I didn't have my [mom and dad] down the hall. That's the number one thing for me. As far as how I do it, I just know that there are certain things that need to be done. There's a certain path that God has set for me and I try to stay true to that. If He gave it to me, I have to go through with it. I cannot deny this. So when things like the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend are presented to me, I do it because I know that it's for a reason and it's for a good cause.