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Keke Palmer has broken her silence on the colourism row that swept social media last month.
The child star turned Hollywood heavyweight recently found herself at the centre of a heated debate about race in the film industry when a fan suggested she had less industry recognition, compared to contemporary Zendaya, due to her darker skin tone.
Keke was quick to shut down any comparisons at the time, rightly describing herself as an ‘incomparable talent’ and pointing out her many accomplishments over the course of a phenomenal career that began when she was just 11 years old.
And reflecting on the furore ahead of her star turn in Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror NOPE, Keke tells Tyla why she felt the need to respond: “My focus has always been on my personal journey; thinking about being further than I was yesterday and thinking about where I came from and the odds that have been against me.
“I feel so proud about everything I have accomplished. The great thing about life is that it is a marathon not a race and I can only imagine what is left around the corner for me.”
Despite all her success, Keke says Black representation in Hollywood still has a long way to go: “I can never say ‘we’re done’. There could always be more,” she says.
“The thing that makes me the happiest is I am happy to see Black representation behind the scenes too. People like Jordan Peele, Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay – all these different people doing work behind the scenes – when we talk about change, this is where it comes from and what we want to see.
“Democratising the industry and letting people know that there is more space in film that don’t have to do with being the talent but also being the voices, the spaces and the brains behind these things. That is what makes the difference. That's when we will even get further with representation – when people get to see themselves in front and behind the camera.”
NOPE sees Keke, 28, star opposite Daniel Kaluuya as a pair of siblings intent on capturing a UFO, and the film is already attracting Oscars buzz.
So it’s no surprise Keke is excited about what the future might bring. “I’ve been doing this for so long and in the 20 years, my biggest fear has always been, ‘am I still going to love it?’ There are still things that I am going to have new experiences with. I’ve been so blown away. I’m not even 30 yet. I don’t know what these thirties are going to be like.”
NOPE is just a stepping stone for Keke, who is already eyeing up a move behind the camera for her next project.
At 28 years old it’s clear there’s a lot more to come.
NOPE will be released in UK cinemas on 12 August