Keke Palmer Fires Back After She’s Compared To Zendaya: That’s ‘Colorism’

'A great example of colorism is to believe I can be compared to anyone,' Keke Palmer poignantly noted in a statement shared on Twitter after her career was compared to Zendaya's. See her full response here.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Keke Palmer Zendaya
View gallery
Image Credit: Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Keke Palmer is not here for comparisons. The 28-year-old former child star and Emmy-winning actress took to Twitter to address a trending discussion about the similarities and differences between her and fellow former child star, Zendaya, 25, that stemmed from a now-viral tweet that urged someone to “do a deep-drive” on the subject. The tweet, posted on July 23, read, “This may be one of the clearest examples of how colorism plays out in Hollywood. They were both child-stars, but their mainstream popularity is very different.”

After catching wind of the discussion on July 24, Keke tweeted, “A great example of colorism is to believe I can be compared to anyone. I’m the youngest talk show host ever. The first Black woman to star in her own show on Nickelodeon, & the youngest & first Black Cinderella on broadway. I’m an incomparable talent. Baby, THIS, is Keke Palmer.” In a second tweet, she added, “I’ve been a leading lady since I was 11 years old. I have over 100+ credits, and currently starring in an original screenplay that’s the number one film at the box office #NOPE. I’ve had a blessed career thus far, I couldn’t ask for more but God continues to surprise me.”

Zendaya, who is known for starring in HBO Max’s Euphoria and playing Mary Jane in Spider-Man opposite Tom Holland, has not responded to the debate. However, she has spoken out about colorism in the entertainment industry in the past. “As a black woman, as a light-skinned black woman, it’s important that I’m using my privilege, my platform to show you how much beauty there is in the African American community,” she said while on stage at 2020’s BeautyCon, as seen in the below video. She went on to say she’s Hollywood’s “acceptable version of a Black girl” and noted it must change. She added, “We’re vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to just be the only representation of that … What I’m saying, it’s about creating those opportunities, sometimes. You have to create those paths.”

The writer of the original tweet that caused such controversy followed up with an explanation of why she was so interested in comparing the two actresses. “They are 2 incredibly talented Virgo Queens who each have an Emmy, but in different categories. Keke Palmer has done sooo much throughout her career, yet ppl are saying #NopeMovie is her breakout role?” she noted. “#Euphoria is what is considered Zendaya’s breakout role, but that makes sense.” She added in an additional tweet, “I’m not slighting either woman. I’m literally a fan of both of them. It’s just weird that ppl are acting like this is a breakout role for Keke, who is VERY successful. And Zendaya has talked abt colorism before…”

Zendaya and Keke had similar beginnings. Keke starred in the wildly successful 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee, and then went on to star in Disney’s 2007 hit Jump In!. Between 2008 and 2011, she starred in Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP. She is also an author and singer, and even hosted her own entertainment show in 2014 called Just Keke. Her most notable hosting gig came between 2019 and 2020 during the third hour of TODAY alongside Michael Strahan and Sara HainesMost recently, she started in Jordan Peele-directed thrilled Nope, which was released on July 22 and landed at top of the box office after its debut weekend, earning $44 million, per Variety.

Meanwhile, Zendaya starred in Disney’s Shake It Up between 2010 and 2013 and K.C. Undercover from 2015 to 2018. Some of her biggest projects include 2019’s Spider-Man: Far from Home, 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home2021’s Dune, and Euphoria. Like Keke, Zendaya is also a singer and has also earned one Emmy.

More From Our Partners