On Nov. 21, Seton Hall’s Student Activities Board (SAB) welcomed actress, singer and current talk show host Keke Palmer for the latest lecture in the SHU Speaks discussion series. The talk consisted of a moderated discussion and a Q&A with students in the audience.
As her name was announced, Palmer walked out with a wide smile as the crowd cheered, anticipating an evening of laughs, advice and insight into Palmer’s life and career.
In an interview with The Setonian, Palmer, who is best known for her role in “True Jackson, V.P.,” said she visits colleges to get students’ perspectives and enjoys hearing from them as much as they might enjoy hearing her.
“I love coming to talk to my generation,” Palmer said. “I think it’s really inspiring for me to just hear where they’re coming from, speak, and as much as they wanna hear me speak, I wanna hear them speak and know what’s going on in their mind.”
Sara Otremsky, a freshman speech pathology major, said she decided to attend since she was a big fan of “True Jackson, V.P.”
Otremsky also said she was most excited to hear Palmer talk about her experience on the show and her career.
“Probably her experiences and her growth as she got to Nickelodeon and everything with her show,” Otremsky explained. “Just her life experiences, and what brought her to that as well.”
Palmer spoke about a variety of subjects, including her early career in auditions, how she stood out, her experiences working with Nickelodeon and Disney, her Broadway and film career, her faith, her struggles with anxiety and depression and her thoughts on diversity in the entertainment industry.
Known for posting humorous videos and photos on Instagram, Palmer brought her sense of humor, positivity and unique personality to SHU, singing the “True Jackson, V.P.” theme song, reenacting her viral “I don’t know who this man is” meme and even hopping off the front of the stage to hug a student who told Palmer how much positivity she brought into her own life through Instagram.
Samantha Paradise, a sophomore theater major, said this was her favorite part of the night.
“I think the greatest thing was her pushing aside the rules,” Paradise said. “She was definitely not supposed to go off stage, and she went and hugged that girl and that was just so honest.”
Paradise was able to ask Palmer a question during the audience Q&A portion and told a story from her own experience. She told Palmer that one day she came from elementary school and sat down to watch “True Jackson,” as her usual after school routine. Earlier in the day, she had been made fun of because of a dress she wore to school, but when she turned on her television, she saw Palmer wearing the same dress on the show.
Palmer, along with the audience, opened her mouth in shock and then smiled.
Paradise asked Palmer about how college students can be themselves with the prevalence of “toxic social media.”
“Everything comes back to us really having to have self-love,” Palmer said. “When you have self-love, you realize that no one else’s opinion matters above yours. We have to go back to saying ‘how do I feel about this? What do I think?’ and bring ourselves back down to the source, to that foundational thing that we all have to make sure all of our decision is based off of, which is self-love.”
Paradise said, “I think I was just excited to hear what she had to say. She’s been a really big activist on social media, so I think I was just looking forward to that. I’m a big activist for stopping toxic social media and I’m just really interested in what she had to say.”
One consistent theme that Palmer spoke about was following her passion and how college students should follow their own passion. She moved from Illinois to California as a child to pursue acting.
She told The Setonian that following what she wants to do has led her through her whole career.
She said, “I don’t try to put myself in such a box. I think the major part of where my success has come from is being able to say ‘you know what, let me just try everything.
“Now I’m not just trying any damn thing, but I’m saying to myself, if I have a genuine interest in this, it’s not based on what I want people to think about me or getting outside validation or it’s not about the money, if it’s just because I have true fun with it and it’s something that I enjoy, I truly follow it.”
Alyssa Schirm can be reached at email@example.com.