The first Rock the Lyceum this year kicked off with actress, singer, and TV co-host Keke Palmer Sept. 19 in N.C. Central University’s Miller-Morgan auditorium as she encouraged the crowd to be in control of their own voice.
“Do not ever let other people’s perception of you become the perception of yourself,” Palmer said to the applauding crowd.
The auditorium was filled to capacity with NCCU students, faculty and staff, and members of the public.
The event began with a student performing the hit song “Best Part” by Canadian singer Daniel Caesar.
Mass communication junior Zaria Johnson interviewed Palmer on stage.
Palmer talked about how her mother traveled on the road with her while her father stayed home and raised her three other siblings.
“If I hadn’t had those type of parents that I had, I wouldn’t know who I would be, or what I would be, or where I would be,” Palmer said.
“You don’t realize the sacrifices that your family makes for you until we get old and we realize, ‘wow imagine how they must have felt, but they did all those things for me’ so that I could shine’. ”
At age eleven, Palmer’s acting career took off with her role in the 2004 film “Barbershop 2: Back in Business.” Three years later, she released her debut album called “So Uncool” with Atlantic Records.
Palmer admitted that it took her a while to be able to “create her own space” inside the music industry.
“With music, there’s not as many, I feel like rules and regulations, so it’s just like that path was very hard for me because I’m just like I don’t know how this game is played.
“It’s not what I was used to. I was used to singing and performing, but I was not used to the business side of it,” Palmer explained.
Palmer added that she is the owner of her record label Big Bosses Entertainment.
The 26-year-old discussed growing up in the entertainment industry and how it wasn’t hard for her to find her voice.
She wrote a book called “I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find your Voice” in 2017.
“What you see, what you are, your vision, — that’s what’s needed in the world. That’s why you were made,” said Palmer .
According to Palmer she co-founded “Saving Our Daughters,” a non-profit, to help create “inspirational moments” for young girls and to encourage them to think positively. On one occasion she took about 20 young girls to see “Cinderella” on Broadway.
Palmer was the first African American cast as Cinderella on Broadway.
“I love it! It’s cool, but at the same time, I want us all to be good in everything. For me, it’s a cool thing to be the first, but then you also ask yourself ‘why am I the first?” said Palmer.
“It does shine a light on the fact that more people need the opportunity to have that recognition.”
Palmer was recently cast in the film “Hustlers” and is a TV co-host on the talk show “Strahan, Sara, and Keke.”
During the question and answer segment, members of the audience asked the superstar questions.
“How do you put your mindset into these different roles?”asked mass communication major Justin Wright, an aspiring actor himself, asked.
“I get into characters by truly opening up myself. I don’t hold nothing back. I get as vulnerable as I possibly can and I’m not afraid,” Palmer responded.
Following the event, Palmer conducted interviews backstage. She said that she will continue to release a collection of songs and that her next business venture will be attending culinary school at the end of the year.
The event was hosted by Student Engagement and Leadership in partnership with University College.
The next lecture series will be Oct. 9 featuring TV personality E.J. Johnson.