At the young age of 23, Keke Palmer is one of the hardest working women in the entertainment industry and she’s creating her own lane in Hollywood and beyond. With a booming acting career and making waves with her music, the multi-talented star is gearing up for the release of her new book, I Don’t Belong to You—an inspirational guide that encourages young women to live their best lives as they navigate the challenges of the twenty first century. Here, KeKe Palmer talks about her new book and how she plans to change the game by empowering the youth.
Made by Ashley White
MADE: What motivated you to share your story in your new book I Don’t Belong to You?
KP: I think it was the same reason I wanted to do my talk show. I just feel like there are things that I want my peers to know, especially those that don’t get to see all the realities that I’ve seen since I’ve been in this industry. I think there are certain things they should know about going after your dreams. There are myths that people believe when going after your dreams. With me being someone who is going after mine and being someone quote unquote “successful” with it, I can share things that might make their journey a lot easier.
MADE: How do you hope your journey will resonate with young women?
KP: I hope they feel it in a real way. Whatever that means to them.
MADE: In the book you write, “Real happiness can’t find us if we aren’t honest and truthful with ourselves and to ourselves.” Can you recall a specific time in recent years when this lack of transparency kept you from realizing your full potential?
KP: I think in many aspects of my life, one shining moment would be in music. I used to allow other people’s perception of me to become the perception of myself. I couldn’t quite see outside of who they thought of me and I allowed myself to get trapped in that space. It kept me uncreative and also very unhappy for a long time because I kept running up against roadblocks. And they weren’t roadblocks justified by any real reason or any real thing—they were just words that people said. There was no real reason for not allowing myself to just try.
MADE: From your outspoken stance against cultural appropriation to your reaction on the recent presidential election results, you’re not shy about stating and defending your opinion. How does your book document your journey to becoming such a self-assured and outspoken individual?
KP: The book talks completely on how I became that. It specifically walks you through the habits of why I didn’t feel that and the habits in which made me feel that way. That’s really what my book is all about. It’s saying that if there’s anything I have to offer at all, this is what it will be. My way of thinking is the main thing. That’s what has propelled me forward—my ability to empower myself mentally and it’s transferred into everything I do.
MADE: One of the topics your book tackles is race. How have you managed to quiet the noise in an industry that isn’t known for its racial inclusivity or sensitivity and find your voice within?
KP: I think it’s kind of a balancing game in terms of acknowledging or approaching that. On one hand, it deserves to be acknowledged and you want people to know that you understand and you see when they feel they are being misrepresented. On the other hand, you don’t want to personalize it because you don’t want to encourage victimization because the reality is that racism stems from ignorance. Ultimately there is no such thing as race. So even when you’re talking on the subject you have to acknowledge the elephant that is.
It’s hard to diminish something that’s also sensitive not to acknowledge. You can find yourself in a weird place. You don’t want to encourage the ideas or ideals, but at the same time it is a real thing that some people believe in. It’s a case-by-case situation on how you feel in the moment you’re going to approach that concept.
MADE: You’ve been classified as a new age social justice warrior thanks to your use of social media to address polarizing subject matters. What inspired you to begin using social media as a way to voice your opinion and mobilize your followers?
KP: It’s right there in front of me and it’s a medium to engage with the people who support me and I don’t have to go through all these different people in order to reach them. I don’t want to say it’s power because it’s not so much about me having power over them. It’s more so about individuals having power over things they aren’t available to be a part of. Meaning if you don’t have the eyes of corporations or anything like that, you can create your own atmosphere online and get as many eyes on you as you want depending on how you go about it. What I like about social media is that it allows me to create my own movement and my own world with my own supporters and I can support them too. So that’s what I love about social media—it doesn’t create a scenario that leads to you limits. It’s really a limitless scenario. I’ve been able to build so much through my career because of my digital access. And it’s not just me and I talk about that in my book as well. I have been extremely inspired by online people who have changed the game. There so many young people that use social media in the proper way.