Keke Palmer is set to host the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, which are slated for Aug. 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Palmer will be the first woman of color to host the show since 1986-87, when then-MTV-VJ Downtown Julie Brown co-hosted. (The Welsh-born Brown is of mixed race. Her father was Jamaican.)
Palmer, who turns 27 four days before the VMAs, will also be the youngest VMAs host since Miley Cyrus, then 22, hosted the 2015 show. (Comedian/actor Sebastian Maniscalco was 45 when he hosted last year’s show, making him the oldest host in VMA history.)
This marks the first time in a decade that the VMAs will have had hosts in back-to-back years. Like many other award shows, the VMAs have often gone “hostless” in recent years.
Here are five things you should know about Palmer.
She’s no stranger to the awards circuit: Palmer was a 2020 Daytime Emmy nominee for outstanding entertainment talk show host for co-hosting the third hour of ABC’s Good Morning America, titled GMA3 Strahan, Sara & Keke, with Michael Strahan and Sara Haines. (They lost to Kelly Clarkson for The Kelly Clarkson Show.) Further back, in 2010, Palmer became the first winner of BET’s YoungStars Award. She was 16 at the time. (She beat Selena Gomez, then 17, and Willow Smith, then nine, among others.)
She’s a solo musician: Palmer’s 2007 album So Uncool reached No. 85 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Rodney Jerkins and Toby Gad were among the producers on the album. She has continued to release music since then, including her May 2020 single “Sticky.”
Palmer has acting cred: Palmer’s first film role was in Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), in which she played the niece of Queen Latifah’s character, Gina. Palmer has appeared in 11 additional feature-length, theatrically-released films, including Akeelah and the Bee and Joyful Noise, and has voiced characters in five more, including the 2012 blockbuster Ice Age: Continental Drift. Most recently, she played Mercedes in the acclaimed 2019 film Hustlers, which also starred Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Cardi B.
On the small screen, she’s known for the 2007 Disney Channel Original Movie Jump In!, in which she starred alongside Corbin Bleu, and for her lead role on the Nickelodeon sitcom True Jackson, VP. In 2013, she played Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas of the R&B trio TLC in VH1’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.
Palmer can hold her own in a musical: In 2014, Palmer became the fourth actress to play Ella in the Broadway adaptation of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. She was the youngest and first Black actress to assume the role. Plus, Palmer played one of the Pink Ladies — Martina “Marty” Marachino – in Grease Live, which aired on Fox in 2016 and won five Primetime Emmy Awards, including outstanding special class program.
She’s a philanthropist: Palmer has worked with the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs on the Cool To Be Smart program, as well as Urban Farming, Girl Scouts, YWCA, Saving Our Daughters and many more.