Why Keke Palmer Turned to Will Smith When She Was a Child Star

Keke Palmer is hosting the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards from New York on Aug. 30, 2020. While the entertainer is now a well-known singer and actor, her career — especially as a child star — was a bit bumpy. This is how movie star Will Smith helped Palmer out when she was a young actor/singer.

Keke Palmer — famous for her songs and TV and movie roles — is hosting the 2020 MTV VMAs

Will Smith and KeKe Palmer
Brandy, Keke Palmer, Will Smith, Serena Williams, and Venus Williams at the ATL premiere after-party in 2006 | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Palmer — who recently turned 27 — recently revealed how she learned she had been selected to host MTV’s Video Music Awards. Her mother called her, as she explained in an interview with MTV News.

“Wow! We doin’ the VMAs, let’s go baby!” Palmer exclaimed.

The network announced their hosting selection with a video of Palmer playing one of her favorite former characters — the lead role from True Jackson, VP, the Nickelodeon series.  This year’s VMAs, which will be held with social distancing procedures, will feature Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, BTS, and many pre-taped segments from all over New York City.

Keke Palmer struggled with her fame at a young age

Palmer hit massive success for such a young age. Her single “All My Girlz” was featured on the soundtrack from the film Akeelah and the Bee, and she released her first album So Uncool, in 2007. After Palmer appeared in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, she went on to star in Akeelah and the Bee, Madea’s Family Reunion, and most recently, the 2019 movie Hustlers with Jennifer Lopez.

But, according to an interview with The New York Times, Palmer was not always comfortable in handling child stardom — and being the primary breadwinner for her family. 

KeKe Palmer
Keke Palmer attends the Hustlers premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

RELATED: Keke Palmer Begs the National Guard to March With Protesters in Viral Video: ‘We Need You’

Unfortunately, the pressure and difficulty of processing all of the demands as an adolescent led Palmer to develop anxiety around her career.

“I wore other people’s expectations on me,” she admitted. “It started twisting from being positive to thinking that making other people happy is my job.” Palmer began avoiding going out — just so she would avoid disappointing fans who wanted a photo with her.

As Palmer’s fame grew, she sought the advice of her attorney about possible emancipation from her parents. 

“I’m a kid, so I’m not realizing our life is different,” she says of her mindset at the time. Looking back on her parent’s efforts, Palmer explained to the New York Times:

… They’re all pitching in to help me keep my dream alive.  Everybody’s being quite selfless. But as a kid, you can’t really understand or fathom all these things.

Palmer eventually got advice from movie star and teen rapper Will Smith

Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Will Smith | Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: Will Smith’s ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Reunion Excluded Janet Hubert and Fans Noticed

Fortunately, Palmer’s attorney encouraged her to talk directly to her parents and communicate openly.

Having prior experience working with other clients who were child entertainers, Palmer’s lawyer also advised her to speak with one other than Fresh Prince star Will Smith.

The attorney believed Smith, “whose first rap single became a radio hit while he was a high school senior,” would be someone Palmer could relate to. Whatever the young star told Palmer, it certainly didn’t hurt. The True Jackson alum didn’t end up emancipating from her family, and now feels quite close to those around her.

“Growing up is realizing that things aren’t perfect, but life is what you make it,” she told The New York Times. “And, I feel like that message came through to me well.”