Keke Palmer has mastered Instagram: How her Southern Belle Insults got 20 million views
From Akeelah and The Bee to True Jackson to Grease: Live to Scream Queens to Cinderella, Keke Palmer is known for her work on the screen, television, and stage. But for a while now, the actress has been quietly — or, frankly, not-so-quietly — been amassing a giant fanbase on a completely different platform: social media.
“I think people are maybe, especially traditional talent, they might feel as if going to digital media is like a downfall. When in reality, it’s where everything is going,” says the 25-year-old, who has 6.5 million followers on Instagram.
Palmer says she’s always enjoyed a relationship with her fans through social media since she joined platforms like Twitter and Instagram, but she took things to a whole new level while working on Fox’s Scream Queens in 2015.
“I was working on digital content for Scream Queens and [digital producer and writer Max Wyeth] saw how much I was into social media and just creating my own sketches, so we decided to keep working on things together,” says Palmer.
One of the first big projects Palmer released was her popular That’s the Gag series.
“‘That’s the Gag,’ was really just a phrase that’s been around for years, that I found and discovered from a wardrobe stylist that I was working with on my last film, Pimp,” says Palmer. “I would be like, ‘Yeah but he’s talking to me, but next thing I know, he’s doing blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.’ And she’s like, ‘Well that’s the gag, honey.’ And then, through that relationship, I just kinda created it as a part of my own dialogue, just because it was something that I really enjoyed. I would turn it into the punch line.”
Currently, Palmer is releasing new “episodes” of Southern Belle Insults — a series of Instagram videos that have been viewed more than 20 million times.
“Max and I came up with Southern Belles and it just really hit,” says Palmer. “I used my Instagram as a test-drive, to see what type of content my audience wants from me, and also just try new material out to see what they’re into and if they take to it. Southern Belles was something that they really took to. I’m very excited about that. We’re building that out to be bigger, even just the platform of my Instagram page.”
Palmer — who knows people know her most for her dramatic work — is thankful that social media provides her an outlet to show off her comedic abilities, as well as share personal updates directly with her fans.
“What I realized is that they really enjoy me playing characters. They love my satire, but they also love when I talk about real issues, and I’m kinda just being myself,” says the actress, currently starring in season 3 of EPIX’s Berlin Station and stars on MTV’s upcoming third season of Scream and soon can be seen in the Lionsgate film #TwoMinutesofFame. “I think me being a traditional talent and coming from Nickelodeon and Disney Channel and such, they maybe expected something that was a little less personal. I realized that what they kinda see from me, and what they look for and identify as me, is a relatable, millennial, diva, that can give them the entertainment while at the same time talking about interesting issues, and not making it feel freaky. I’m so glad I can provide that for them — and that they want to see it!”
Palmer is releasing new holiday-themed content on Instagram through the end of 2018.