Keke Palmer and Sherri Shepherd are part of Broadway history as they are “Cinderella’s” first African-American Mother-Daughter Duo on Broadway.
The Source Magazine attended the press day at The Broadway Theatre. Read our exclusive interview with Keke below:
You are “Cinderella.” How excited are you?
It’s unbelievable because when I thought about Broadway I thought about something far far far in the future, I didn’t think it was something I could touch right now. So, when the opportunity came about, I was like “this could be the chance. It might not be, but I have to try it in order to know.” So I tried it, so when I got it I was like “This is really real.” It was like a surreal feeling … and I had to keep it from everybody for so long because people would ask me well what do you have coming up, what will you be doing in the fall and I’m like I can’t tell you but when it came out I was so happy and the feedback that I got from the community and from everyone was so amazing because you always want you people and want everybody to be into what you’re doing next. So, coming from film and tv it is something that is very nerve wrecking you want people to except you coming to broadway but broadway is a total different beast then film and tv its a lot of discipline, so I’m just taking it on and doing everything I can to make it right.
You are the first African-American to do “Cinderella” on Broadway. Can you reflect on that?
Yes, it feels unbelievable! I can’t really express the feeling because growing up seeing Brandy do the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s on television with Whitney Houston, it made believe things are possible but I would’ve never imagined me doing it on Broadway, me doing something similar to her on Broadway I never would’ve imagined that, the thought didn’t occurred to me, so to do it is just a constant reminder that when you see things just understand that when you say things understand all things are possible – all it is is you trying it and doing your best and going in there and doing it, no one can stop you, really honestly other than you.
It’s your destiny, God gave it to you.
I am so grateful to God I’m honestly falling to my knees grateful. Just thankful! I always tell my mom “the amount of gratitude I feel cannot be expressed. I cannot be expressed” … You know how I express it? By Doing everything I can to make sure it’s right … Working hard, rehearsing as best as I can because I can let myself down, I can’t let God down I can’t let nobody Down.
Tell us what it was like working with both Sherri and Judy.
Judy is so awesome because she’s been doing this for a while , so it’s good to watch her and kind of get tips and she’s so kind and nice so she’s good for me to observe.
You know I’ve worked with Sherri before, this is our second project together and its’ so awesome because we are both under the same type of vibe … you know this whole thing of experiencing this together and so it’s good to have her because as I said before we’ve known each other for a while and it’s just good to have someone there who knows what you’re going through the first time.
We loved your talk show. Will we be seeing more?
Okay so look I was supposed to find out Sept. 1, but BET wanted a two week extension so we don’t know yet but, I mean at the end of the day you will see the show again because the show is owned by telepictures you know I would love for us to be on BET again, but if not definitely “Just KeKe” will be back.
When can we expect your album?
The album is being worked on right now … I wish I could tell you guys, but understand it’s the same as “Cinderella” meaning it’s worth the wait, but I’m working on music and everything like that, maybe I will be working on some stuff toward the end of my run on “Cinderella,” but you know still trying to make sure I’m good with my voice because I’m doing a lot of singing so I have to try to find a balance with that but, hopefully we can get some music out by the top of next year I would really love that and I think it’s possible.
How excited are you for this Broadway show?
Girl I’m so excited I’m scared and I’m excited and I’m nervous and I’m joyful and I’m just thrilled and fearful, but all of that is just a plethora of feelings and I’m so grateful to be here.
You are the first African American step-mother of “Cinderella” on Broadway. Can you reflect on that?
I think it’s very exciting to be that I think it’s very significant because it has a broad message for everyone, “Cinderella.” But specifically speaking to our little brown boys and girls. To see Keke singing “the impossible is possible if you just believe” is really going to mean something. Our children need hope and I saw Stephanie Mills in “The Wiz” and I said I want to do that! and thats why I’m here. I have to thank Stephanie Mills when I see her “You put a rush on me…” I have to thank her. I think a lot of the little chocolate boys and girls are going to look at Keke and look at me and say “I want to do that and I can do that and it’s possible.” So you got to see president Obama and Condoleezza Rice, you get to see people on Broadway. We need these images. But then I say to my my chocolate family, you have to come out and support because if you support – it’s a money thing, it’s a ticket thing because then you’ll see a brown “Pinocchio” and so on and so you can’t say why don’t we see our people. You can’t see our people if you don’t support and they have a ticket to fit every budget. … I know my family. They say, “I can’t afford this, it’s too expensive…” We got tickets for $39, come on out and you can still see our teeth and we will still be smiling, and I say this with love come on out family!
Tell me what it was like working with Keke?
Keke is my second daughter, well actually my first daughter because I don’t have a daughter. I work with her in a lifetime movie “ABDUCTED: The Carlina White Story,” she played my daughter so being reunited with her again is so wonderful and it’s hard to be evil to Keke and Star Jones said “how are you going to be evil, you’re not evil, you smile all the time,” so it was a little hard for me but it’s so thrilling to be working with her again.
You’re from “The View,” you’re acting, you’re an author, Broadway … What advice to do you have for young women and people who are trying to follow the same footsteps?
Stay off of reality shows and slapping people that’s number one. Don’t look at that as the mode of your dream. 2) I will say run towards what scares you! Because if it’s your dream and it’s deep inside, you can do it, you gotta believe and run towards what scares you. That’s what I say and it’s okay to say “No,” a “No” is more powerful than a “Yes.” You can always turn a No into Yes, but it’s harder to turn a Yes into a No so, I think sometimes we want to please everybody its ok to say No but, I say go for it and get prepared, do the work! I always get people who ask “How do I do what you’re doing” and I say “well you gotta do this.” Their response is “No, I want to make that Money.” But you have to be prepared because you’re going against people like me and Keke and we know what we’re doing so you have to get prepared and Do the Work!
You are definitely no stranger to broadway. How excited are you for this “Cinderella” Broadway show?
For going into this show, I am over the moon and I’m really really excited to work with Keke and Sherri. I don’t get to spend too much time with Sherri on stage, but Keke is such a wonder and I’m really excited to be there kind of close to the beginning of her career because it’s going to be a beautiful one. She’s a gracious, good person and I’m very excited to be a part of this.
I know you’ve done a lot of Opera and Theatre Shows, how is this one different from the others?
This is Magical, they’re all magical in there way. Well, I’m flying in this show, I’ve never done that before. I’ve sang Rodgers and Hammerstein music before but this is an especially beautiful beautiful score. Its daunting to step into a role that someone else has created and made so perfect but I’m embracing it and especially the moments that I have with Keke because I’m seeing the whole experience through new eyes through fresh eyes because she’s excited and that’s neat.
What can the viewers expect when they come to see this show?
They can expect Magic and to be taken into a place they’ve probably never been before or maybe they were many many years ago when they were little and if they have children with them see it through their eyes. I think they’re going to experience a really beautiful thing I’ve been watching the audience as we’ve been preparing the show and they’ve kind of gone out to cloud nine.
For more information visit here: http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/