Keke Palmer is making her own way in life.
The 29-year-old comedian, actor and singer got her start playing Queen Latifah's niece in 2004's "Barbershop 2: Back in Business," and since then she's taken on many more roles in Hollywood, with her most recent being Emerald Haywood in Jordan Peele's new film, "Nope."
"It was the best thing in the world," Palmer tells TODAY.com of working with the acclaimed director, while promoting her new partnership with Doritos.
"Jordan is one of the most incredible collaborators and I believe geniuses of our time," she says. "He is just really smart and has such a specific vision that is so rooted in something pure."
Palmer's character, Emerald, is the energetic, motivated and charming sister of OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya). Their family owns a ranch in California that rents horses out to movie sets. Soon, another entity roosts at the ranch — one from outer space.
Sparking conversations about chimpanzees, aliens and movie-making, "Nope" was a critical and box office hit. It also showcased Palmer: The New York Times called her a "movie star," and she was named to the TIME100 Next 2022 list in September.
But for those who had been following Palmer's career for years, the hype seemed to be long overdue.
"It’s so interesting seeing the conversation around Keke Palmer having her breakout or superstar moment," one fan wrote on Twitter the day before "Nope" came out, saying that in her household, Palmer was a star "forever."
Have I experienced colorism? Yes. Have I experienced what that feels like as a kid growing up? Absolutely.
Responding to the above tweet, another fan tweeted, "I’d like someone to do a deep-drive on the similarities and differences between Keke Palmer and Zendaya’s careers. This may be one of the clearest examples of how colorism plays out in Hollywood. They were both child-stars, but their mainstream popularity is very different."
Zendaya, who rose to fame as Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel sitcom "Shake It Up," now is known for her Emmy Award-winning work in "Euphoria" — a departure from the Disney Channel, if there ever was one. She also appeared in "Spider-Man" alongside boyfriend Tom Holland and the movie musical "The Greatest Showman."
After seeing the viral tweet, Palmer decided to weigh in, shutting down any notion of a comparison between her and Zendaya on Twitter.
Palmer wrote, "A great example of colorism is to believe I can be compared to anyone. I’m the youngest talk show host ever. The first Black woman to star in her own show on Nickelodeon, & the youngest & first Black Cinderella on broadway. I’m an incomparable talent. Baby, THIS, is Keke Palmer.
“I’ve been a leading lady since I was 11 years old. I have over 100+ credits, and currently starring in an original screenplay that’s the number one film at the box office #NOPE,” she continued. “I’ve had a blessed career thus far, I couldn’t ask for more but God continues to surprise me."
Speaking to TODAY.com, Palmer explains why she decided to join the conversation, saying she wanted to enlighten people about the true meaning of colorism, as she sees it. Colorism is a form of discrimination wherein individuals with light skin are favored over those with dark skin within the same race or ethnic group.
"We all know that colorism is real, but this to me was not a good comparison of it because we're two totally different entertainers," she says.
“So for me, it was kind of like, this is a strange thing to do. And this is actually the greatest example of colorism within itself.
“You’re saying she doesn’t deserve anything and you’re saying I’m not getting what I deserve, which is not the true narrative at all,” Palmer adds.
"Have I experienced colorism? Yes. Have I experienced what that feels like as a kid growing up? Absolutely, I can speak to that. Most of the time, it comes from society and from our community telling us that we didn't get what we were supposed to get and it's because I'm dark," she says.
"But in the real scheme of things — and I say this humbly — is I've accomplished and received things that most people would not in a lifetime," Palmer continues. "Black, white, male, female and more. So it's crazy to say that I'm not a success because of my skin tone when I've already done things that are difficult to do."
The "Akeelah and the Bee" star is already planning out the next steps in her career.
Along with creating her own digital network, titled "KeyTV," supporting young creators, Palmer says that she's interested in starring alongside Whoopi Goldberg in "Sister Act 3" and playing Rogue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"Your girl is ready," she says. "I'm ready to sign on the dotted line."