Keke Palmer Reflects On Moment She Felt ‘Trapped’ During Her Time As A Nickelodeon Star

Keke Palmer on True Jackson, VP
(Image credit: Nickelodeon)

Like many young performers of the 2000s, Keke Palmer had her time in the sun as a teen star. Her stardom came courtesy of her popular Nickelodeon sitcom True Jackson, VP. The teen sitcom endeared her to millions of young fans, who watched Palmer play a young executive at a high-end fashion company. Despite that level of popularity, starring on the beloved sitcom proved to be a double-edged sword for the then-rising star. Because as Palmer has now explained, there was a moment in which she felt "trapped" during that portion of her career.

The Hollywood star spoke about being a Nickelodeon star during her THR profile spread. One moment that still sticks out for Palmer today played out in 2009, when she and her family got an all-inclusive cruise compliments of the kid-friendly cable channel. Unfortunately, the True Jackson star didn’t get to enjoy her vacation, as she had to fulfill an obligation to sign autographs for a few hours. The multihyphenate ended up seeking refuge in her room for most of the trip, and the whole thing sounds like an unfortunate ordeal. She continued:

I felt like I was walking around in a SpongeBob suit that I couldn’t take off. I was trapped. I couldn’t leave my room without someone coming up to me calling me ‘True Jackson.’ What you are, to everyone, is just a character … just part of their experience.

Even stars need a break sometimes. While the actress has an outgoing and quirky personality, signing countless autographs isn’t how one wants to spend their vacation. The TV personality definitely seems to love her fans, but she has been open about certain drawbacks that come with stardom, including being filmed by a fan against her will.

Despite feeling trapped by her Nickelodeon image in that way, the Scream Queens alum managed to avoid the pitfalls of childhood stardom (mostly due to her overprotective parents). As she put it, her success came into full focus when a child actor friend did a stint in rehab. Palmer recalled how she consistently heard about the tragic child star narrative as she transitioned into mature roles:

This child-star storyline … we done heard it, it’s been beat over the head. But for the people who think that a normal childhood is overrated, nothing’s overrated if you didn’t have it.

Her experience on the trip definitely backs up that notion. The Lightyear star’s ordeal wasn’t over after the hours-long fan signing, and Palmer tried to make the best of the situation by posting a clip to the web, in which she joyfully talked about her trip. But the video was just a way to hide her displeasure over her family-turned-work trip. After doing the impromptu fan signing, she apparently fainted from exhaustion. And due to that experience, the 29-year-old actress made a pact with herself to only play roles of her creation.

Palmer has moved on from her Nick days, as audiences saw earlier this year through the release of Nope. Unfortunately, the film’s success brought some unnecessary comparisons between her and her fellow multihyphenate Zendaya. Nevertheless, the actress is experiencing some major success. Right now, fans campaigning for her to play Rogue in a potential X-Men reboot, which she is down to do, and she's set to host Saturday Night Live in December. It goes without saying that the Hollywood vet is thriving these days and, after what she's experienced, you love to see it!

You can take a trip down memory by watching Keke Palmer on True Jackson, VP using a Paramount+ subscription. Once you're done, go watch some of Palmer's other best films and TV shows.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

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).