“Your word is charisma.”
“Charisma. It’s derived from the ecclesiastical Latin kharisma, from the Greek kharis meaning ‘favor’ or ‘grace,’ isn’t it?”
Well, however it came about, Keke Palmer’s got it. She turns out memes at an alarming rate, keeps an audience enraptured when talking about a 25-year-old movie, and speaks with such melody and passion that her everyday cadences have been turned into TikTok masterpieces. This woman is meant to be a celebrity. She’s funny, charming, and supersmart — and all of that makes her an absolute beast at press. And you know Palmer stays employed, meaning we’ve got chances galore to see her work her magic. This year alone, she voiced the role of Izzy, Buzz Lightyear’s partner in crime-fighting, in Lightyear; had this well-performed argument as a permanent judge on Legendary; and became the host of the upcoming Password reboot. Currently, in the awards-season race for Nope — written and directed by Jordan Peele (the mastermind behind Get Out, Us, and the “Gay Wedding Advice Sketch”) — Palmer is going on a massive charm-offensive while doing press, attending awards shows, and, on December 3, hosting Saturday Night Live.
Now, we could try to keep track of everything she says in individual articles, but when we know the star quality is as high as it is with Ms. Palmer, we simply cannot let the goofs, guffaws, and meme-ry go by in isolation. The Keke Canon is grows larger everyday. As such, we preserve her best moments on the Nope press tour, for posterity’s sake, and all but rebrand as the New York Palmer Library for Press Tour Arts (NYPLPTA). Dive into the archives of our favorite meme queen, Keke Palmer, below.
She did Angela … with Angela!
One of Palmer’s best bits is her killer impressions — most important, her Angela Bassett (see below). Vanity Fair reunited the Akeelah and the Bee stars for the first time in 16 years to reminisce about their time on set. Bassett tells Palmer that she got the job because a young Palmer requested her, and Palmer tells Bassett what an inspiration she is, frankly, to us all. But the best moment in the December 2 video is when both Palmer and Bassett do the legendary lip quiver Bassett delivered in The Jacksons: An American Dream. “And that line was improvised!” Bassett rightfully brags.
Her memory is pulchritudinous
This one’s kind of a cheat, because it came out in May 2021, so Palmer isn’t on the press tour for Nope quite yet. Still, we felt it necessary to include because a clip of Palmer from this interview saying “This one has a little sweetness to it,” is still viral. Important moments from this interview include Palmer, at around six minutes in, remembering the Latin root of her championship word in Akeelah and the Bee and doing an impression of her mom in the movie, Angela Bassett, as she spells it. Also amazing? At around 15 minutes in, Palmer gets hit with an insanely hot wing and attempts to keep a poker face while calling out Survivor for not having enough Black contestants.
Fan theories provoke her eyebrow raise
Keke Palmer has a history with Vanity Fair videos, most notably when she released one of the world’s greatest memes upon them during her lie detector test. Then she came back, and they tested her again. This time around in the VF studio, Palmer is faced with fan theories that leave her beguiled and bewildered. Why would they think this movie is just a rehashing of Peele’s previous films? Why would they think Mulder and Scully from The X-Files would show up in an entirely different film franchise? The real mystery is why one commenter is calling her a lady when she is but a young 28.
Her ever-improving Angela Bassett comes out
Keke Palmer’s been sitting on an impression of Angela Bassett for a while now. She made Queen Latifah double over with laughter with it in 2013, then she showed it off to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show earlier this year. And on July 24’s WWHL, she said that Angela Bassett has never said boo to her about it. But the remarkable thing about the impression is that it just keeps getting better. It starts with What’s Love Got to Do With It? Angela and now includes The Jacksons: The American Dream Angela. Her secret? It’s all in the lips.
She’s all about that Meghan Trainor
On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Fallon brings up his collaboration with Palmer on the upcoming Password reboot. Password lives and dies by its celebrity guest contestants, so to sell the show, Fallon and Palmer start name-dropping. The first celeb on Palmer’s lips? Ms. Meghan Trainor, the “All About That Bass” singer and forgotten Best New Artist winner. This is great news, because without Palmer’s hard work, no one would know the “Dear Future Husband” singer appears on Password, given that Trainor doesn’t even make the celebrity bragging section of the show’s trailer in favor of other celebrities like John Hamm and Martin Short. We’re just going to assume Palmer’s a huge “Juni from Spy Kids” fan.
Being on the clock means no time for Timothée
On Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen asks Palmer if there was any chemistry between her and Timothée Chalamet on the 2021 Met Gala red carpet. Fans speculated a little something between Palmer and Chalamet when she interviewed him and he reminded her that they did a young Hollywood shoot together. So is Kekimothée in our future? Nope! “I didn’t feel anything! I was doin’ my job. I’m like, ‘How you doin’, love?’” says Palmer. After all, “I’m on the clock!” Palmer punctuates this last statement with a pointed look at her watch. Better luck next time, Li’l Timmy Tim.
She describes Jordan Peele’s writing as “sneaky”
In a recent dual GQ profile of both Peele and Palmer, Peele talks about how the pandemic inspired Nope. “I wrote [the film] trapped inside and so I knew I wanted to make something that was about the sky,” says Peele. “I knew the world would want to be outside and at the same time, I knew we had this newfound fear from this trauma, from this time of what it meant to go outside. Can we go outside? So I slipped some of that stuff in.” Makes sense to us, and to film critic Palmer. “That’s so sneaky how you do that,” she says, and she’s right. The way Peele sneaks commentary on society into his popcorn movies is like a parent mixing vegetables into a kid’s smoothie. The real horror lies within.
Flies are safe around her
During a video in which Glamour asks Palmer questions via flashcard, the “personality” category includes a query about whether or not Palmer would kill a fly. “If you’re going by the phrase ‘Would you hurt a fly?’ like not literally a fly, then, yeah, I would not hurt a fly,” explains Palmer. However, “Sometimes literal flies are pests and I might swat around. I try not to kill ’em, I swear to you I try not to kill ’em. The worst thing I’ve done is spray a little bit of Febreze on ’em to get ’em up out of there.” A very kind and measured response to a difficult line of ethical questioning. Keke Palmer could solve the trolley problem in a breeze.
If you NFT-ify her, please cut her a check
Keke Palmer knows she’s the queen of meme, and she knows what that can mean in our modern metaverse. Most of her memes are from interviews she doesn’t own the rights to, so she has a pretty reasonable request in her recent Vanity Fair interview: “If they end up selling it as an NFT, just give me a little something. Break me off something!” Seems fair to us, although we’re not sure if Palmer needs her brand to be sullied by the current crypto news cycle.
Even more jobs are on her mind
While participating in a cast-and-creator interview with Fandango, Palmer shares what Peele’s biggest impact was for her. “Jordan makes being a genius seem very attainable,” she responds. “I left the set like, ‘I’m writing my first script! I’m directing it!’” Palmer delivers it like she’s telling a joke, which is nice enough, but we’re very serious when we say: Do it! Cinema needs you.
This post has been updated.