Keke Palmer Reveals the Advice Jennifer Lopez Gave Her About Finding Balance

Plus, she tells us about her favorite look from Hustlers and why she loved the outfits on Sister, Sister.

Keke Palmer pink dress
Photo: Randy Holmes/Getty Images

Simply looking at Keke Palmer’s resume can leave you feeling slightly exhausted. Not only has 26-year-old (who's currently starring in box-office hit Hustlers) been acting since childhood, she’s also mastered singing, hosts a morning show (Palmer recently joined Good Morning America’s third hour, GMA 3: Strahan, Sara, and Keke), and, during New York Fashion Week, channeled her inner model on Christian Cowan’s Spring 2020 runway (shortly before her co-star, Jennifer Lopez, strutted her stuff in Versace).

“That was so dope,” she reveals to InStyle when reflecting on the experience, which came about through her partnership with came about through her partnership with Olay Body for their Ultra Moisture Body Wash ($6). “It was my first time ever [walking the runway], and I was glad that it was Christian Cowan's show because he's so sweet and cool, and it was just fun. Definitely a moment to remember.”

While Palmer may be new to this particular gig, she's been a full-on style icon for years. Every time we spot the star out and about, she’s wearing vibrant colors, playing with texture, or channeling her inner ‘90s kid. Ahead, she tells us more about her overall aesthetic, reveals her on-screen style icons, and dishes on the advice J.Lo gave her about finding balance.

Keke Palmer Style
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How would you describe your style?

Spontaneous, expressive, and colorful. It depends. For a more sophisticated event, [I go for] a different flair — oftentimes very fitted, and I like to have a structure to [the garment]. If it's something that's a little more casual, it'll be something that’s more comfortable to move in because I love to dance. My style ranges. I'm one of those people that doesn’t put limits on much of anything, and I'm always willing to try something new. I've gone through many different phases in fashion.

Do you have a favorite color to wear?

I love purple and I love yellow. I think bold colors really complement my skin. Whenever I wear them, I feel like I really pop.

Are you loving how ‘90s and ‘00s style is still going strong?

I was into that before the trend began. Honestly, they are my favorite eras. I'm always reaching back into those times to some degree, like the early 2000s — the swag and just thinking about Aaliyah or even how the models' swag was back in that era. I never stopped being into that because I grew up on that. I never got to rock all that stuff at that time because I was a kid.

Keke Palmer VMAs 2019
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Do you have any style icons?

Definitely Aaliyah's a style icon for me. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Diana Ross. People that are timeless.

Lili Reinhart has said she wasn't crazy about some of the trends in Hustlers, but can you talk about your character’s style? Was there anything you didn’t want to wear?

My character got to live that whole 2000s-type vibe. Baby Phat, Apple Bottom...that whole era was exactly what Mitchell and I discussed for her in the film. Everything that they had, I loved, but if they were like, "Oh, we want you to wear some with your whole ass out or with your titties out," then I'd probably be like, "No. Nah."

Hustlers cast
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What other character's style have you really loved?

Everybody loves Carrie fromSex and the City. That character is impossible not to love. Her look was very spontaneous; it definitely had its own vibe, its own lane. There was always something new and it seemed so fresh.

I really loved the characters in Girlfriends, too. Maya gave you sexy with a little bit of Clueless to it. Toni gave you sexy-sophisticated. Joan gave you working woman, but with some relaxed moments. And I loved Lynn for how eccentric she was. She was very sexy, but also gave you a kind of "nice guy" vibe. And then, when I was a kid, Sister Sister with Tia and Tamera. It was the schoolgirl look, [which was especially relevant] in that time in my life watching the show. They were very neat, and the hair, and the clips, and the accessories and stuff — it was all real cute.

How has it been working with Michael Strahan and Sara Haines, and hosting the third hour of Good Morning America, GMA3: Strahan, Sara, & Keke?

So much fun. And just a totally different vibe of waking up every morning, going to work with them, getting to know one another, and the type of things we need to talk about on the show. The whole energy of it is really refreshing for me. It gives me more of a sense of normalcy than I've ever had in terms of working in the industry.

Keke Palmer Coat
MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Did you ask J.Lo for advice on balancing it all?

I did have a talk with her about how she balances everything and there was, of course, no short answer for it. But she said if it was important to her, she made the time. That's what it comes down to, especially when it comes to her family and her having this major career, but still being a great mom. It really is about you making the time. This is just the decision that you make and say, “Ok, I know it's not a betrayal to my career to make time for my personal life.” When you've been a career person, whether you're male or female, realizing that other things matter and that they're just as important to make time for as your career is the first step.

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