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Nope’s Keke Palmer Opens Up About Getting Frequent Comparisons To Zendaya: ‘A Great Example Of Colorism’

Keke Palmer in Nope and Zendaya in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Universal/Marvel)

Nope’s Keke Palmer has been working hard in Hollywood since the early 2000s. Being the sci-fi horror film’s leading lady was seen as just another impressive performance from Palmer, but newer fans have dubbed the Jordan Peele film as her “breakthrough role” after years on the small and big screen. Longtime fans of the actress felt the claim was wrong as others began comparing her and fellow former child star Zendaya’s acting career. Well, the Nope star didn’t  consider the comparisons flattering as she opened up about those frequent comparisons being “a great example of colorism.”

The discourse over the constant comparisons between the two actresses began after some publications dubbed the horror film Palmer’s breakthrough into mainstream Hollywood. It was first pointed out by a writer from Teen Vogue on Twitter over the differing news coverage of the Hustlers actress and the Spider-Man: No Way Home star’s careers. After seeing the post, a Twitter user delved more into the issue of colorism in Hollywood. They showed love to both women while illustrating the differences between them outside of being child stars. The user tweeted:

I'd like someone to do a deep-drive on the similarities and differences between Keke Palmer and Zendaya's careers. 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. 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? #Euphoria is what is considered Zendaya's breakout role, but that makes sense.

Concerning fame and success, both actresses have been making moves in Hollywood for years. Lightyear actress Keke Palmer made her Hollywood debut in Barbershop 2, six years before the Malcolm & Marie star starred in the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up. Of course, being two young successful Black women in Hollywood led to inevitable comparisons amongst fans and the press. Palmer’s breakthrough came in the 2006 drama Akeelah and the Bee while Zendaya came to mainstream prominence through Spider-Man: Homecoming and Euphoria

Of course, the Keke Palmer has been enjoying the coverage surrounding the box office hit. Upon seeing the division created by the post, Palmer hopped on her Twitter account to defend herself against the issue proposed in the tweet. She proved colorism isn’t a factor in her Hollywood career by running down a list of accomplishments in a Twitter thread.

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.

But Keke Palmer wasn’t done letting the internet know she’s been booked and busy for years. The Emmy winner gave Nope’s success a shout-out as she proclaimed her leading lady status happened long before the sci-fi film. The actress tweeted:

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.

Palmer doesn’t want to be anyone’s “colorism” victim. She felt that her career has yielded tremendous results as seen in her achievements. Plus, she’s led multiple films over the years, including Akeelah, The Longshots, and this year’s Alice.

Even now, Keke Palmer and Zendaya are racking up role after role. Palmer is set to appear in Aziz Ansari’s directorial debut Being Mortal in 2023 – despite the production being suspended over an investigation into inappropriate behavior from co-star Bill Murray. Zendaya has two projects, Dune: Part Two and the sports film Challengers, lined up for 2023. There are still upcoming films featuring the two actresses arriving in 2022 as they are attached to more upcoming films dropping in 2023.

You can watch some of Keke Palmer's best TV and movie roles after watching Nope currently in theaters.

Adreon Patterson
Adreon Patterson

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).