Keke Palmer opens up about feeling 'so alone' as a child actor: 'I can barely connect to people'

·4 min read
Keke Palmer gets candid about the loneliness of fame. (Photo: Getty Images)
Keke Palmer gets candid about the loneliness of fame. (Photo: Getty Images)

Keke Palmer is opening up about the reality of being a celebrity and the mental health implications that come with it.

"No one really wants fame. Everybody just wants to be seen, but they think that's what fame is gonna do them," she said during an interview on the Call Her Daddy podcast. "But fame, you're not seen. You're actually more unseen because you're famous based off a perception that other people have of you."

The 28-year-old actress and singer talked about her introduction to Hollywood as a young teen after having discovered her passion for acting. But while she found enjoyment in the job, she experienced a lot of negative feelings about what was demanded of her.

"I felt so alone, I'm telling you. It's such a loneliness I would not wish on my worst enemy. There's no way out of this. It was just a sense of hopelessness as it pertains to human connection and interaction, and that's something that I thrive on, that's what made me love performing," Palmer explained. "And now, I can barely connect to people and people can barely connect to me. Oh no, I can never go back. You can never go back. Once you're famous, you can never go back."

While Palmer felt isolated from people around her, she also experienced similar feelings with her family members as she recognized the different impacts her fame had on each of them.

"I know everybody thinks the famous thing is cool. I think it has some cool perks but it really is also like very traumatizing in a lot of ways. And I think it really traumatized my family for a good long period of just having to deal with how people treat them to get to me," she said. "It really made me feel so isolated in my family after a while because it was like all y'all together get it and feel the same way about how all of this is affecting you, but who can identify with my experience?"

Having brought her family out to Los Angeles and then making the most money of them all, Palmer said that there was a level of resentment built up. Some days, the pressure made her feel guilty enough to wish that a tragedy would allow just one day off.

"As a kid, I used to be like, 'I wish a car just hit me right now just so I could not feel the guilt of wanting a day off.' I would literally want stuff like that to happen, like let me just break my leg. Wouldn't it be great?" she admitted. "I know that sounds so terrible, but that is literally how horrified I was and how guilty I would feel to take a break at that age. And that's something that still haunts me to do this day."

When experiencing more serious feelings of depression or hopelessness, Palmer's mom would offer her the advice to "just keep living."

"I think it really means just keep living. And I would say this to anybody that has dealt with depression or suicidal ideation or just wanting it to be over. It's like just keep, literally and metaphorically, living because what ends up happening is motions fade and things change. Life is about highs and lows and when you're the kind of person that really deals with depression and things like that, what happens in those moments is all you can focus on is the low," she said. "That's what depression is. It's hopelessness. It's not seeing the end of something. It's not seeing over the edge and knowing that there is going to be a better tomorrow. But what happens when you keep living, when you don't shut the door, when you don't call it quits is you're able to look at your past and say, 'I know it is going to get better. Right now, I'm depressed. This is my last year. This is my last 20 minutes. This is my last hour. But guess what, I know from the past that it's going to be OK.'"

Although Palmer talked about her own experiences in therapy and her commitment to better understanding herself, she maintained that life after fame changes for good.

"It's going to always be Keke Palmer did that. Keke Palmer's not doing that," she said. "Most things, you can come back from. You can be like, all right I'm out or I moved on from this. But fame, you can never go back."

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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