I am being brutally honest when I say I just wasn’t here for KeKe Palmer prior to meeting her last week. Up until our encounter on the set of the “Just KeKe” show, I had only known her through her roles in films like: “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story” and “Akeelah In The Bee.” I concluded, early on, that she’d be forever bound to playing such “safe” characters and I like my favorite celebs to come with a bit of controversy. My assumptions about her were further cemented by the announcement that KeKe would be hosting her own day time talk show that targets teens on BET.
I was invited to attend a taping of “Just KeKe” in L.A. and despite my lackluster feelings for the rising star, I was open to experiencing what the show had to offer and chatting with the youngest host in history first-hand. I immediately took a liking to the colorful set that looked like my fantasy teen bedroom (when I was 15) with modern twists like zig-zags and zebra prints. A large monitor boasted the #JustKeKe hashtag and a young lady capturing footage on an iPad, that I later learned was Keke’s personal cam.
As expected, I was surrounded by teenagers (I almost felt like Drew Barrymoore in “Never Been Kissed” sans the virginity). It wasn’t long before KeKe made her way onto set bringing with her a burst of positive energy that swarmed the studio. She wore a blue sweater and leggy matching shorts. Give or take an inch and the boys would have slipped in their own drool. In her hand was a beach ball that producers said she couldn’t use. She made a sad face then threw it to the other side of the room.
Unlike other celebs who seem more comfortable receiving compliments then giving them, KeKe placed her palm on a girls knee and pointed at another girl’s hair. “Yasss, I love your hair honey,” she said with a toothy grin. She turned to another and gushed over her dress, “You look so cute mama!” There was even a woman whose knee became the actresses hand rest, like they were already bests. KeKe continued to scour the front row, highlighting each young woman or man’s best asset. From the girl in the emerald dress to my pink pumps, she had something nice to say about everyone. Her energy was high as she bounced around from station to station wearing 4-inch heels (no platform) and a smile. Her presence was magnetic as she told jokes in between takes. She was humble as she read her lines even the one’s that had to be done over numerous times. “Cool beans,” she’d say relocating to try again in another spot. There was never a frown or disingenuous moment.
As the show progressed, I realized how beneficial “Just KeKe” could actually be. “Just KeKe” topics ranged from social network bullying to a young woman who shared her story about being raped on her college campus. KeKe was there to guide the conversations and discuss social injustices that plague today’s youth. She even gave an impromptu tutorial on how to do Sage The Gemini’s red nose dance (which was my favorite part of the show) using one of the audience members.
After “Just KeKe” wrapped, I was able to meet KeKe back at her dressing room. I wasn’t able to get a full interview, but peep her message:
“Just KeKe” is goofy, a bit corny and every bit of what’s missing on TV. It brings the perfect amount of balance of positive, feel good TV to on-air programming that otherwise would be flooded with shows like “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” and “Real Housewives.” Gosh. Now I love her! I think you will too.
Tune in to “Just KeKe” weekdays at 5pm/4c on BET!