Keke Palmer Explains Why She Felt 'Misunderstood' in the Entertainment Industry as a Child Star

The actress made her film debut in 2004’s Barbershop 2: Back in Business before she landed her breakout role in 2006’s Akeelah and the Bee

Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer. Photo: GP Images/Getty Images

Keke Palmer began making a name for herself in the entertainment business as a child actor, but she faced many challenges while growing up in the industry.

"At a young age in the child entertainer world, your emotions are always the last thing that people care about," the Hustlers actress, 27, said on InStyle's Ladies First with Laura Brown podcast on Tuesday. "I think you get really quickly into being a people-pleaser and trying to be everything that everybody wants you to be. And so I think in a lot of that, you end up being misunderstood. When you're not always being agreeable, you're a brat."

She continued, "It's always been a bit of a thing for me because people have had all these expectations of who they want me to be at a very young age: how they want me to act and how they want me to respond. I've fought a lot of that most of my adult life, and I'm still new into my adult life."

One thing that Palmer works on "every day" is to "not worry about people not understanding" her at this stage in her career.

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The Scream Queens alum has had an enviable journey in the industry, beginning with her film debut in 2004's Barbershop 2: Back in Business. After landing her breakout role in Akeelah and the Bee two years later, she went on to star in Disney Channel's Jump In! movie and True Jackson, VP.

In recent years, Palmer appeared on Star and Scream: The TV Series, and also landed a starring role in the critically-acclaimed film, Hustlers. She additionally co-hosted Strahan, Sara & Keke and hosted the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards.

On the Ladies First podcast, the multi-hyphenate said that she is a "strong believer" that people can learn to do anything in professional spaces. However, she previously felt "a lot of insecurities" when it came to her music.

Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer. Roy Rochlin/WireImage

"I think I've always been able to be more objective about acting and all these other things because they kind of just came to me without me knowing. But music was something that at a young age I believed in myself in and throughout the industry got very challenged [doing]," the "Bossy" singer said. "I had to really come to that understanding that success is what you make it and what you design it to be. Everybody is not Beyoncé, and that's alright. That doesn't mean that you're not amazing because if you're not Beyoncé, maybe you are Norah Jones."

"I think, you know, all of those things come into understanding that at the end of the day, I just have to be true to me and allow me living in that truth to be success enough," she added.

Palmer's mother, Sharon Palmer, told TODAY early last month that she initially pushed her daughter into child stardom so that the actress could afford secondary education.

"I did it so she could go to college. I never expected any of this. I didn't do it for money or fame. It was college. I wanted her to go to college," Sharon said at the time. "I wanted my kids to go to college, and I wanted them to have a better life."

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