Before Strahan, Sara, and Keke: A Look Back At Keke Palmer’s Famed Career and History-Making Moments

Keke Palmer has become one of America’s favorite co-hosts of daytime television. The Strahan, Sara and Keke star is warming the hearts of millions all across America with her youth, spunk, and opinion on pop culture and social issues. She’s quickly proved that she belongs in her spot but this is not the first big job for the new morning show host.

Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer 2019 | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

At just 26 years-old, Palmer’s resume is long and accomplished. Before joining Strahan and Sara, she’s already earned the reputation of a talented young actress and singer. Let’s take a look back at some of Palmer’s impressive career credits.

Keke Palmer breakout role in ‘Akeelah and the Bee’

Source: YouTube

Palmer had done commercials and guest spots before her big film break. At just 12-years-old, Palmer starred in Akeelah and the Bee, alongside legendary actors, Samuel L. Jackson, and Angela Bassett. The film debuted in 2006 was positively received by critics and audiences. Palmer specifically was praised for her performance. The film was a huge hit during the award season. Palmer won the award for Best Actress at the Black Reel Awards. Not bad for her first leading role!

Keke Palmer the singer

While promoting Akeelah and the Bee, Palmer told NPR that her lifelong dream was to be a singer, saying:

“Well, I went to, you know, a church in Chicago, and my mom, of course, was in the choir because my mom was a singer, she used to sing. I wanted to be in the choir as well and I was like, Mom, please, you know, I want to sing in the choir with you guys. I kept on asking her and finally, I was, you know, in the choir.”


She signed a record deal with Atlantic Records in 2005 and her debut single, “All My Girlz,” is featured on the Akeelah and the Bee soundtrack. Once her acting career took off, she put her singing ambitions on hold. Her debut album, So Uncool, was released in 2007 but with minimal marketing, failed to chart on the US Billboard 200. That didn’t discourage her as she was signed by the Chairman of Interscope Records in 2010 and began working on music from there. She showed off more of her singing ability in the Disney film, Joyful Noise, alongside Queen Latifah. She now releases music independently.

Keke Palmer as ‘True Jackson, VP’
Source: YouTube

In 2008, Palmer began her starring role as the title character in Nickelodeon’s Teen Nick sitcom, True Jackson, VP. The series followed the life of 15-year old Jackson, who landed a dream job as vice president in charge of a youth apparel line. She also showed her singing chops and wrote and performed the theme song for the series. Earning $20,000 per episode, Palmer became the fourth-highest-paid child star on television at the time of the show’s run. The show ran for three seasons and had 60 episodes. BET later ran reruns of the series after it ended.

Keke Palmer with the supergroup, TLC

Source: Instagram

Palmer got to live out one of her childhood dreams by starring as TLC member, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in the 2013 VH1 biopic, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. She was handpicked to play the role and built a close bond with her castmates and TLC members. The film’s premiere generated 4.5 million viewers, making it the highest-rated television film premiere of 2013, as well as the highest-rated original film premiere in VH1 history. 

Keke Palmer makes history on broadway

Keke Palmer as Cinderella
KeKe Palmer as the “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” 2014 | Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

In the summer of 2014, it was announced that Palmer would be the first African-American to star as Cinderella on Broadway. She performed her first show on September 9, 2014. Her last show was on the closing night of the show’s run on January 4, 2015. She told Essence Magazine in 2016, “I waited my entire life for a moment like that. I hate saying it was a huge deal that I was the first African-American to ever be a part of this musical,” Palmer says. In an interview with NBC News, Robyn Goodman, the producer of the broadway musical, told reporters that Palmer had “everything we were looking for, she is magical.”

Strahan, Sara, and Keke is not Keke Palmer’s first talk show hosting gig

Source: YouTube

Palmer is killing it on Strahan, Sara and Keke because this is not her first rodeo as a talk show host. She hosted her own daytime talk show on BET called Just Keke (formerly The Keke Palmer Project). The show covered topics such as fashion, pop culture, relationships, social issues, and celebrity interviews. She made history by becoming the youngest talk show host in TV history at just 21-years-old at the time.

Keke, we are rooting for you girl! Keep up the amazing work!