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Cannes Lions: Creating Meaningful Content with Keke Palmer and Amazon


Cannes Lions - Keke Palmer
From documentaries to television series, today’s entertainers are creating some of the industry's most-watched content. Amazon Studios sat down with Keke Palmer, actor, musician, podcast host and producer, to share her thoughts on longevity, personal branding and why entertainers like herself are uniquely qualified to create programming that audiences love.

AM: It’s not often that we get to see child actors successfully transition into adult entertainers. You have managed to not only expand your career, but to do so in a real and healthy way. How have you managed to do what many haven't?
Keke Palmer: I think it is really difficult going from being a child entertainer to being an adult because; just in general life, it's hard to go from a kid to becoming an adult. And I remember different periods in my career where people did want me to stay the same, or they didn't understand some of the choices I was making. I think the best thing I did was that I had a really good support system around me, my family and my parents, they all encouraged me to do what I felt was necessary to express myself for my creative evolution. I think that's ultimately what's continued me to grow and evolve as I wasn't afraid to take chances and sometimes go against what other people wanted from me. It's interesting because at the end of the day people don't remember any of that, they just remember that you were always awesome.

Fear is the thing that kills more dreams than failure. You're out here creating a lot of content, you just released an album, do you use fear as a motivator?
Keke Palmer: I look at all the people that came before me that I look up to and see how they accomplished their goals. Most people had a period or a time where someone told them no, someone said they didn't see it for them. It's kind of a part of the process of success. So, I've always been that kind of person where I've looked at people that have had success or had careers that I admire and then I learned about their stories. I'm delighted because I see that they've all experienced similar things. Success doesn't look the same, it's not completely linear, it's kind of all over the map. And when I experience things that are all over the place, it actually makes me feel that I'm on the right track. It is a mental game of reframing and shaping your mind to be able to go through those changes and come out knowing that it's going to make you better in the end.

It takes women so much longer to get to that point where you are now, where you can avoid overthinking, have fun and just do what's in your heart…
Keke Palmer: I really do feel like I'm a beneficiary of all of the amazing women that I grew up around. My mother tells me now that she was telling me things that she just wished people had told her. I was blessed in my life to be around a lot of inspiring women that just told me, you can do it, get out there! And I think that's what it's about, it's about believing, but also you do need that support system and the right people around you to encourage you to keep going in that direction. I don't want to just put it on belief, there’s also hard work.

How do you think this has affected your ability to engage with audiences by creating your own spaces across so many media vehicles?
Keke Palmer: I feel like I use all these different medias to get my message out whatever the message may be at that time. My brand is to spread joy, love, and connectivity. I want to connect to my generation. I want to be part of pushing us forward. Ultimately, when I got into the industry, my parents taught me to believe that my art is my medium and to tell a greater story for my community and to encourage people.

And where does patience come in?
Keke Palmer: Sometimes we come out ready to bulldoze the door down and don't even have a strategy. There's a certain way you have to go about it. I think a big thing that I've learned growing up in my generation is that I'm not going to always love 100% of everything. I need to learn how to take the good with the bad. That's difficult because I feel like I should have everything I want 100%, but that's just not reality. And figuring out what you can live with, and what you can't live with, and how to find the balance in between to get ultimately to the goal needs a lot of patience.

What have you learned the most from motherhood?
Keke Palmer: There's so many things that I’ve learned, but I guess what comes to the top of my mind is similar to what I was saying, I'm very strong. I think the strength that you have to be a mom, even just to have somebody out in the world that you love so much like that, and that don't just make me fall apart each day is a treasure. I've never loved anyone like this. I think I also learned to take it easier on my parents. A lot of things come into perspective when you have child.

You are doing so much, how do you remember to pause and celebrate your wins?
Keke Palmer: I think I've gotten better at it. I used to be really bad at it. Now I do try to take time to take a break, to rest, and what they say, smell the roses. I will admit that my family and friends, are really there for me. I remember to do that, to make sure that I'm exercising my autonomy even on myself. Because that's the reality, sometimes you're the one overworking yourself and over-pushing yourself. You have to check yourself about yourself. I also learned while I was pregnant that no matter when you take a break, or how long you take a break, whatever is for you is for you.  

Through the Black Business Accelerator program, Amazon has invested $150 million in helping black businesses be successful, particularly black women-owned businesses, and supporting them and you are part of it all.
Keke Palmer: Yes. I'm also learning from these women. Again, it's all a collaboration, and just the fact that Amazon reached out to me for this meant the world. For me, it's all an act of service. How you can be of service? How can I be of help? How can I shine a light? How can I use my platform for good? And this is one of those scenarios.