Also Credited As:Lauren Palmer, Lauren Palmer, Kiana
|August 26, 1993|
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Lauren Keyana Palmer was born on Aug. 26, 1993 in Harvey, IL, a small town 20 miles south of Chicago, to a polyurethane-worker father and an elementary schoolteacher mother. Her older sister coined the nickname "Keke." Growing up, Palmer was a little girl with a big voice, belting out the gospel standard "Jesus Loves Me" at church when she was just five. Palmer was nine when she made her acting debut, playing Queen Latifah's niece in "Barbershop 2: Back In Business" (2004). Soon, Hollywood took notice of the up-and-coming star and began inundating her with offers. After being encouraged by "Barbershop" producers, Palmer's family decided it was time to pack up and move to Los Angeles in support of her dream. Within weeks, she was cast in an episode of "Cold Case" (CBS, 2003-2010), a national advertisement with K-Mart, and a role opposite William H. Macy in The TV movie, "The Wool Cap." Palmer's portrayal of Lou, an abandoned child, earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. It was even more remarkable that Palmer - who made history as the youngest actress ever nominated for a SAG - was up against acting powerhouses Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Glenn Close, and Patricia Heaton for the award.
Two years after her "Wool Cap" triumph, Palmer stepped into her first feature film-starring role, playing Akeelah Anderson in "Akeelah and the Bee." The film followed the story of a young girl from South Los Angeles who competes in the National Spelling Bee. Once again, Palmer proved she was a young force to be reckoned with, inciting veteran film critic Roger Ebert to proclaim that she deserved an Academy Award nomination for her performance. That same year, Palmer found commercial success with "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006), a Tyler Perry-directed comedy that topped the box office for two consecutive weeks. Taking a break from big screen projects, Palmer starred in "Jump In" (2007), a Disney Channel original movie about inner city kids involved in the competitive sport of Double Dutch jump roping. Having Disney in her corner also helped Palmer pursue longed-for singing career. She signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and performed the songs "It's My Turn Now" and "Jumpin'" for the movie's soundtrack. Palmer's debut album, So Uncool, a mixture of R&B, pop and inspirational tunes, was released in September 2007.
Palmer returned to the big screen in "The Cleaner," starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes and Ed Harris. The young star continued her successful movie streak with the football comedy "The Longshots" (2008), in which she starred as Jasmine Plummer, the first female athlete to participate in the Pop Warner football tournament, the nation's oldest and largest youth football organization. The biographical film, directed by rock singer Fred Durst, reunited Palmer with her "Barbershop" co-star Ice Cube, who played her uncle and the team's coach. With her movie career on the fast track, Disney and rival network Nickelodeon battled to crown Palmer its newest teen queen. Even though she had enjoyed success with Disney's "Jump In," Nickelodeon offered the young star a lead role she could simply not resist. Palmer starred in the comedy series "True Jackson, VP" as a teen who ends up working as an executive in a major fashion house. The show debuted to high ratings when it premiered in November 2008, while her all-American charm onscreen and off established Palmer as a role model for millions of young women. In 2009, she reunited with director Perry in the comedy film "Madea Goes To Jail," and appeared opposite Kevin Spacey in the independent feature "Shrink."