Cover Story: Keke Palmer Gets Real About The Beauty Of Black Hair

Keke Palmer x Hype Hair October 2019
Photo Credit: Lawrence Murray // Artwork: Hannah Aryee

With a career spanning 15 years, Keke Palmer has mastered the art of being the “next big thing.” In the past two months, she’s starred in a Certified Fresh movie, Hustlers, alongside a star-studded ensemble cast led by Jennifer Lopez; dropped a new single, “Twerk & Flirt”; and turned a guest-hosting role into a permanent position on the newly retitled, GMA3: Strahan, Sara, and Keke.

[SEE ALSO: Keke Palmer Reveals When She First Fell In Love With Her Hair]

“Hosting was always something I loved, mainly because I wanted to be somebody in my generation that could allow us a platform to speak to each other,” she told Hype Hair at the Bronner Bros. hair show in August, moments after the official announcement. “It’s important to me to be able to be a conduit to the culture and my generation.”

Keke has become known as one of the most authentic voices on the big (and small) screen, and a certified hustler (or go-getter) in her own life. “I do so many things, and they are always coming together,” she said. “It’s just not I’m doing music, or I’m just doing acting, it’s all of who I am, together.”

We had the chance to chat it up again with Keke—this time to talk about a GMA3’s natural hair segment that went viral for all the wrong reasons, changing the narrative around the beauty of Black hair. And, what she’s up to next. 

— Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

Keke Palmer
Photo Credit: Instagram/@keke

HYPE HAIR: Last time we talked, it was about the joy of falling in love with your natural hair, but for some, that concept is triggering. Why do you think that is?
KEKE PALMER: It can come from people judging you, right? But it also can come from you not really having total knowledge of your own hair. Everybody has to find their own swag with it. You have to find what fits well with your hair. But no one can tell you that your hair is not acceptable based on the curl of your kink. That’s just not cool. And we really have to stop judging each other based on that.

HH: We saw some of that judgment after a recent segment on GMA3 featuring famed stylist Vernon François. Many weren’t thrilled with the low-tension ponytail he created on a model with “4C” hair.
KEKE: Vernon is known for being wonderful on Black and natural hair. That’s what he specializes in, so it was very interesting to me for people to have this adverse response to that because he’s done similar [styles] like that with Lupita [Nyong’o’s] hair and people have nothing but compliments for Lupita. 

HH: Why do you think that was?
KEKE: I feel like that shines more light on people being uncomfortable with their own texture. What you’re saying is that her hair texture is not cute enough for that style, when in reality there was nothing wrong with it. It was neat; no crazy hairs out of place. He found a way to put it in without having a lot of tension in the ponytail, and then he added an accessory to it. 

Everybody’s hair is not the same. So, if your curl pattern doesn’t look like Tracee Ellis Ross’ that doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to get up in the morning and just pull it up in a ponytail, wrap an accessory around it and look cute. When I go to Europe, I see many girls with that same hair texture, rocking it just like she did, and it’s not seen as undone. So it really upsets me because when we get into the conversation of 4C, 3C, 2C, whatever these Cs of curl pattern, people show favoritism only to a certain kind of curl. But what if your hair texture just doesn’t go that way? Now you’ve got to do all these other things in order for it to look cute. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not just.

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About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon is founder/Black beauty directory for Sadiaa Black Beauty guide, the premier directory Black-owned beauty brands, and former digital media director for Hype Hair.