As we ring in our 21st ESSENCE Festival (we’re legal!), the multitalented Keke Palmer is wrapping up her 21st year.
The actress and two-time ESSENCE Fest performer celebrated her birthday last August with a quiet surprise party thrown by her parents, but the real magic happened in the months that followed.
“I owe so much of my 21st year to my experience on Broadway because it opened up my eyes, not only as an artist and entertainer, but as an individual person,” said Palmer, who recently wrapped up a four-month stint as Broadway’s first Black Cinderella.
Another added Broadway bonus? It helped her channel her hustle—that same hustle that has been pushing her since she was 10.
“Once I’m in the zone, you can forget about getting me out of that zone,” she admitted. “It takes a lot for me to let loose because I’ve always had this [stomps on the ground] type of personality—working, very disciplined—and when I did Broadway, my discipline went to another level.”
It’s that discipline that is going to keep letting her make her transformation from a child actress to a serious movie star. She said that she has learned to let go of expectations—”expectations usually always lead to your downfall”—and go with the flow, embracing her love of acting.
“I would hear people say things like, ‘You really have continued on acting through the transfer stage [from child to adult],’ and I’m like, ‘I had no idea that I was struggling at any point!'” she said, “because for me, it was always about just acting and having a good time.”
Here’s to year 22, Keke!