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Lauren Keyandra Palmer talks about TLC biopic

Kam Williams | 10/25/2013, 5:55 a.m.

Born in Harvey, Ill., on Aug. 26, 1993, Lauren Keyana “Keke” Palmer has been wowing audiences since the tender age of 9. Palmer first received great acclaim when she starred as the title character in the sleeper hit “Akeelah and the Bee” opposite actor Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.

She followed that powerful performance with lead roles in “The Longshots,” “Shrink” and “Joyful Noise.” Palmer has also made memorable appearances in such films as “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” “Cleaner and Madea’s Family Reunion,” and done voiceover work in animated features like “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom” and “Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare.”

She will next be starring in the horror thriller “Animal,” directed by Brett Simmons, which is set to release in the spring of 2014. On TV, Palmer played the title character on the hit Nickelodeon series “True Jackson VP,” and received four NAACP Awards for Best Actress in Children’s Television. Her other television credits include “90210,” “Cold Case,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “ER,” to name a few.

In 2012, she produced and starred in her first made-for-TV movie, “Rags,” which aired on Nickelodeon. Earlier this year, she handled another title role in the Lifetime made-for-TV movie, “The Carlina White Story.”

Palmer is currently starring in the DirectTV miniseries “Full Circle,” written by Neil LaBute. And she is in the studio recording her second album with the award-winning producer Bangladesh.

When she isn’t acting or singing, Palmer believes in giving back. She is very involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Saving Our Daughters, the YWCA and the Embrace Girls Foundation. She is also an ambassador for Robi Reid’s AIDS awareness and prevention organization, the Reid for Hope Foundation.

Here she talks about her latest outing as Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story,” a VH1 original movie.

What interested you in “Crazy Sexy Cool?” Were you a fan of TLC as a kid?

Being a fan is exactly what made me want to do this film. I wanted to be a part of telling the story of a favorite group of mine.

How did you prepare for the role? Is it harder to play a real-life person than a fictional character?

I just watched a lot of old footage. I also spent a lot of time with Chilli and just observed her.

Was Chilli present on the set making suggestions?

Yes! She definitely let me do my thing, but she was always there for questions.

How would you describe TLC’s legacy in one word?

I don’t think there’s a word to describe it, really. They really inspired a generation of women to be confident go-getters.

What message do you think people will take away from “Crazy Sexy Cool?”

You can do anything as long as you don’t stop believing. When it is meant to be, it will be. You just have to follow your heart.

Tell me a little about your new TV series, “Full Circle.”