The multi-talented entertainer has been a fan of the group TLC since she was about 6 years old. Palmer says it was a dream come true that she was cast in the role of Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in the VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story that premieres October 21st. Alongside her will be Drew Sidora as T-Boz and Lil’ Mama as Left Eye. The film chronicles the Grammy award winning group’s rise to fame.
Keke Palmer is no stranger to the limelight herself. At the age of 20 she has quite an extensive resume spanning from television and film to music. She has appeared in films such as Akeelah and The Bee, The Longshots, and Joyful Noise, and on the television show True Jackson, VP.
SoulTrain.com: Were you leery at all about taking on this particular project? When it was first announced there was a lot of backlash from people on social media. Are you worried about what people will say when they see the movie?
Keke Palmer: I was definitely taken aback because I have never gotten such a negative response regarding my craft. I have just never had a situation where people have so much to say about you and the work that you did. For me in my career I have always gotten such positive feedback in the roles that I have chosen and the type of films that I have done and chose to do. It was more shocking than anything that everyone had such a negative attitude towards me getting the role. At the end of the day I came to the conclusion that there are people that like me and like my work; for those that don’t and don’t want to see me in this movie, no matter how good or great I am or even if I jump into a morphing machine and jump out looking just like Chilli, they still won’t like the film for whatever reason, or they will be stuck on the fact that I don’t look just like Chilli. But look at some of my favorite movies, like What’s Love Got to do With It and Malcolm X where Denzel doesn’t look like Malcolm X, and Angela Bassett doesn’t look like Tina Turner. I know for a fact as an actress that you don’t have to look exactly like the person you are portraying; it’s all about giving your best effort and performance. Chilli herself tweeted that is exactly how she felt the other day when she saw the movie, so at the end of the day that is all I can really hope for.
SoulTrain.com: How did you prepare for the role of Chilli?
Keke Palmer: I just watched a lot of her old footage and I paid a lot of attention to her and spent a lot of time with her. I took note of a lot of things that were specific to who she is.
SoulTrain.com: What was the most challenging part of actually playing Chilli?
Keke Palmer: The most challenging part would have to be the pressure and really wanting to put on a great performance. I always have that kind of pressure going into a new project, but especially with this one, and I really wanted this to be something that I would enjoy as well.
SoulTrain.com: Was there a certain aspect of Chilli’s life that you identified with most?
Keke Palmer: All of it. Not only as an actress, but even as a singer also I could relate to all of it. There are things you go through in the industry, but your life still goes on. Just because you are a big superstar doesn’t mean you don’t have issues or problems in your life. That’s what you will see in the movie, that just because they had a number one album, it wasn’t as if their lives were perfect, they still had to endure a lot.
SoulTrain.com: You sang a little in the movie as well, right? How was that?
Keke Palmer: Yes, I did get to sing some parts. I didn’t get to sing the actual songs; they wanted them to be the real versions in the movie. It feels good to actually hear the music from that time, but I’m actually going to be singing parts in the movie, especially in the beginning when Chilli first talks to Pebbles when she sings something to her to get her attention.
SoulTrain.com: How long did it take to get the choreography down pat?
Keke Palmer: It actually didn’t take long; it only took us about a week and a half, because we didn’t have that much time. We filmed the movie in like 28 days. So luckily we are all dancers so we were able to pick up the choreography pretty quickly and get it going.
SoulTrain.com: Do you have a favorite TLC song?
Keke Palmer: Good question. I would have to say it would probably be between “Digging on You” and “ Creep.”
SoulTrain.com: Without giving any spoilers away, what do you think viewers will be most surprised to see in the movie?
Keke Palmer: I would say just how realistic it is, especially the story about what they were going through at the time within the music industry and their personal lives.
SoulTrain.com: What’s next for you? A little birdie said you were working on new music, so is that true?
Keke Palmer: Yes, I have been working on new music, so hopefully I will have a new video to release in the middle of this month. I have been working on my new album with my producer Bangladesh, so I’m really excited!
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, Mosaic Magazine Charlotte, or her own websites, www.themofochronicles.com and www.conversationswithmeik.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.