Keke Palmer: ‘we can’t even really expect for people to respect our boundaries’

Keke Palmer has a lot going on personally and professionally these days. She and her boyfriend, Darius Jackson, welcomed their first son at the end of February. She got the Vanguard Award, she has a new content hub, and she has a new album out called Big Boss. But what I didn’t realize is Keke also wrote and directed a docuo-film to accompany her new album, about her journey through the music industry. The film covers the difficulties she faced, like sexual harassment and the blurring of the lines between mom and manager. She spoke to People about the album and film. Some highlights:

On what’s different about Big Boss and growing as an artist: What sets it apart is the space that I’m in now, my ability to really go forward and not feel like something is missing. I’m just in a place now where — not to say I’m not collaborative or I don’t care what other people say, but essentially there’s a part of me that doesn’t really care what other people say. ‘Cause if I believe in it, then that’s what’s going to make the difference. I think that me not being afraid to do my own thing is what’s made the biggest difference where I’m at currently as an artist.

On the preventative measures we take as women: Being a woman is like, “Damn, the biggest mistake you can make is trusting somebody.” Damn, I just shouldn’t have trusted someone? I wish that there was more that we could do, but it seems like we can’t even really expect for people to respect our boundaries. Now, my best way of coping is to just not go places alone, not really let my hair down, not really get too comfortable. I mean, I’ve had to do so much preventative s— because I can’t trust people to behave. The sad thing is that you learn these things from being in bad situations. It almost feels like it’s a coming-of-age story for a woman.

On Me Too in the music industry: It hasn’t happened in music, and it should. Bad s— happens in all industries, obviously, but specifically entertainment. We know bad things happen in all of them, but it’s almost like the acting world represents a union and the music industry represents non-union. With music, it’s like everybody is being paid, and everybody’s a crooked cop. So, it seems like nothing will ever really come to a head.

[From People]

What Keke says about her current confidence in herself and her artistic abilities is inspiring. Believing in her own vision and abilities and not second-guessing herself and her instincts at this point in her life and career is a wonderful thing and valuable mindset regardless of industry. And I like that she notes that you can be collaborative and receive feedback while still believing in your own vision. As for what Keke says about trusting people and them respecting our boundaries… Yeah, unfortunately she is completely right. It’s like our guard has to be up at all times because there’s always the possibility of someone behaving badly or in a way that breaks your trust — not even necessarily your personal trust in them, but your trust in like, a polite society and appropriate, normal behavior. And it sucks to think that you learn from these situations and you can’t even, for example, be friendly or kind without people getting the wrong idea and pushing past your boundaries. Keke alludes to the situation with Trey Songz, but also notes many other instances of sexual harassment and misogyny that she’s faced as a woman in the music industry. And it seems like she’s right about the music industry so far. At this point, it doesn’t seem like it’s faced the “reckoning” that the acting industry has faced and though there are lots of rumors, there are few people speaking out about what’s happening there.

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13 Responses to “Keke Palmer: ‘we can’t even really expect for people to respect our boundaries’”

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  1. Nanea says:

    Good for her that she’s strong, or resilient, enough to be able to share a part of her journey.

    Too bad that people who hurt and hinder others are often still not called out openly, or have to face consequences.

    May she be an inspiration and a trailblazer for young women of color.

  2. Rackel says:

    Just like she said, you can’t expect people to respect your boundaries and you don’t know that until it happens repeatedly.

    I had this wake up call in 2021. I would just yell at my family to stop throwing my name in their “talks” “situations” and whatevers. They refused. Looking back I was suppose to remove my self from their environment when it became apparent they couldn’t stand on their own. Instead I tried to salvage relationships. The good thing is everyone has been expose to me. The bad is; I needed so much proof. At least I know I gave it my all but I should’ve made them “holidays only” back in 2012.

    I realize on the surface Keke is talking about body boundaries but the music industry is so relationship based -see Taylor swift post- that her words can relate to regular environments.

  3. Celina says:

    Wow. She’s amazing. Good for her.

  4. HelloDolly! says:

    Yep, her advice about not trusting people rings true for me as a young woman in academia. I’ve worked as a tenure track professor in my department for 6 years and have dealt with alot of sexism. Recently, one of my older female colleagues who I considered an ally just passed me over for a job promotion in leadership because an older man in the department with no experience suddenly decided he wanted the role. And get this: I had been recommended for the job by the departing faculty, I have 5-6 years directing experience, etc.

    I was so disgusted that I quit my current leadership role in the department and accepted a leadership position in a national org. (I didn’t quit my job, just am not serving as a faculty advisor/leader in the department). If my skills and assets are unappreciated and underestimated, I will take them elsewhere.

  5. Myeh says:

    I wish women especially women of color would just unionize. What’s the music industry going to do if all the female artists went on strike and male artists couldn’t get a hook for their “smash” hit without the female talent providing the catchiest hook. Good luck auto tuning your way out of that men…

    • Coco says:

      Sadly women in the music industry are not as protected as women in the film industry.

      Unionizing won’t work because part of the toxic environment is coming; from these female artists on Male management and record label they are signed to, so they get screwed all the way around not just from their male counterparts.

      • Scotchy says:

        This is exactly it, I have been a Black female professional song writer for almost 20 years and let me tell you streaming has made it almost impossible for us to organize because our business/industry has been so destroyed. I mean heck getting songwriters in a room to write song is hard and as a black women sheesh the stories I could tell of having to navigate this world would make you cry. Keke is not wrong not wrong at all.

  6. Sass says:

    It’s wild to me how people react when you lay down boundaries. I’ve been yelled at in front of my kids at their school called a bad mom by another mom bc she was mad at me for some perceived slight. I have been insulted loudly in my own home. I could name more instances but let’s just say every time I’ve said “no” and no matter HOW I say it, the person I’m saying “no” to flips tf out. There are a LOT of toxic people out there who have yet to sort out that other people aren’t here to serve them.

    Whenever I stand up for myself and say no, I am almost immediately cut from whatever group it is and labeled “crazy”. That’s fine. I would rather be called crazy and left tf alone than continue being used and abused.

  7. lucy2 says:

    She’s amazing, she’s got so many projects going on, and had a baby! I’d be interested in her documentary, I appreciate how outspoken she is about these issues.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I would too! She’s an incredible artist and singer and I am excited for what she has to bring in the future. I am glad to hear her thoughts about the awful culture in the music industry as I am not surprised. I hope that artists stand together to have the industry make the changes necessary for everyone to be safe and not have to be leery about everyone’s intentions as that must be exhausting. And it’s always women, but especially WOC that are targeted the most.

  8. detritus says:

    Nothing constructive to add. She’s stunningly gorgeous though.

  9. H3rH1ghn3ss says:

    Love how she is working that new mom bod! It did her good!

  10. j.ferber says:

    I just love her so much. I watched her as the replacement for Megan Thee Stallion on Legendary as a judge. She was funny, gorgeous, fair and a great singer. I hope big, big projects are in her future. She has proven herself again and again. She is star material, absolutely.