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Keke and Loreal Palmer on How Her Career ‘Changed’ Their Childhood

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Keke Palmer and her sister, Loreal Palmer, are opening up about how drastically their lives changed after Keke began her rise to fame as a child star. The sisterly duo stopped by for ET’s “Spilling the E-Tea,” during which they discussed all the family secrets revealed in Loreal’s new memoir, Keep Living, Keke’s journey to superstardom and more.

Loreal, who won the first season of ABC’s reality show, Claim to Fame, in 2022, is currently away from home, studying abroad at Oxford University.

“It’s been the time of my life, like literally a dream come true. Could never have predicted this,” the 34-year-old tells her sister about her studies. “I have been missing my babies — the kids and you guys are probably the only thing that’s gonna bring me back.”

Loreal has three children with her ex-husband, Frank Wimberly III, and it was their divorce that inspired the reality star to write her memoir. The title, Keep Living, is inspired by a mantra of the sisters’ grandmother. 

“It’s something that our grandmother always said and our mother always reminds us, no matter what we’re going through in life, she just goes, ‘Keep living, keep living,'” Keke, 30, shares. “So the title rings so true to our family’s vibe.”

Loreal explains that sharing her memoir has been “so extremely therapeutic” for her.

Keke Palmer, Loreal Palmer and Lawrencia Palmer at the 2023 Black Music Action Coalition GalaMichael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

“A lot of these moments, I didn’t go through them, I went around them. I’m very good at going around things so when it came time to relay these memories and these moments, it kind of forced me to go through them in a way I had never gone through them before,” the mother of three tells her sister. “Some of these chapters, I remember as I was writing — this is going to sound so dramatic — but tears were falling down my face as I was writing them because I was like, ‘Oh, I made it.'”

Reflecting on her hardship growing up as her sister, Keke, gained fame as a child star, Loreal says it was definitely a process and recalls being “bratty and resistant.” 

“I talk about how (when) people find out we’re sisters they’re always like, ‘Were you ever jealous?’ and it’s like, no, I was never jealous in the sense that they’re thinking. It was more so like, ‘What is my acting? What is my entertaining? Like, why can’t I find my thing?'” Loreal shares.

The professor-to-be asserts that she’s always been proud of her younger sister “because it just seems like you were meant for this.”

“I was literally just telling someone the other day, ‘She’s just a born entertainer. She could be paid pennies and she would still do this because she’s done this her whole life,'” Loreal proudly adds. 

But that journey to stardom wasn’t an easy road. Keke recalls the “many different moments that have been roadblocks or bumps” when their family moved to Hollywood for her career. 

Keke PalmerElyse Jankowski/Billboard via Getty Images)

“I think that a lot of the lessons that I learned in terms of how to deal with life at that confusing time are skills that I’m able to use to this day in every relationship,” the Nope actress says, looking on the bright side of things. “Seeing things from other people’s perspective from those early years of becoming ‘Keke Palmer,’ seeing the way it shifted the dynamic in (our) family, that helped me to learn how to understand people better.”

Keke adds: “I’m always astonished by all the love and the compassion that you’ve shown because when I sometimes look at things from my siblings’ eyes — and obviously you, especially, because of all the things that you sacrificed for me to do what I did — I used to struggle with so much guilt because I felt like, dang, like all this focus and all this stuff that even though it’s become and it always was a family thing and a family business and an opportunity for us all to use this one gateway, it didn’t always feel that way to us.”

“It was very much, ‘So OK, this is Keke and we doing everything for Keke and everything Keke,’ but really the Keke Palmer brand is something that has helped propel us all in different areas so, like, that’s great,” Keke says. “But it still seems so one-person focused and it took me a lot of years to get through some of that with myself, with feeling responsible for everyone. So when I hear your telling of it, it really is like, wow, that’s just a narrative that I’ve been telling myself… and then you’re telling yourself a whole ‘nother narrative and we both just killing ourselves with our narratives.”

“Yeah, that’s the funny part: everyone is always telling their own story and we have no idea,” Loreal notes. 

The Oxford University student also shares that writing her memoir has allowed her to process her divorce from Wimberly, whom Loreal divorced after he came out, but stayed in the same house to raise their children together.

Looking back on the separation, Loreal says her first step in processing her feelings was “to realize that it’s not selfish to have a personal reaction to what somebody else is going through.”

“You can be there for them but you can’t negate how what they’re going through is affecting you,” she reasons. “So that was kinda the first step like, we’re just such a magical family that we are so accepting of everyone and everything, and it took some time to realize that not everyone has that. It was a lot for him to come out and there were no options for me other than to accept it. But then I had to tell myself, ‘But wait, Miss Mamas, this is your husband!'”

Loreal confessed that “the strong supportive person that everyone sees today, she did not always exist.”

“It was not all positive,” she admits, adding that it was “the first time in my life (in which) I was letting myself be angry ’cause anyone who knows me knows that it takes a lot to get me there.”

But the idea to Keep Living held strong for Loreal, who details her determination to tackle “that flux of life and just going forward with it” in her memoir.

Keep Living is available wherever books are sold.

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