Actress, singer, and TV personality Keke Palmer was excited to take the MTV Video Music Awards stage on Sunday, even in what she calls "crazy times."
The triple threat just celebrated her 27th birthday last week and dropped her EP Virgo Tendencies Part 1 today. Palmer said she was "totally excited" to host this year's celebration of pop music, featuring performances by Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, BTS, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd, Black Eyed Peas, Doja Cat, and Maluma.
A couple nights before the awards show, The Advocate chatted with Palmer, who came out as sexually fluid in 2015, about how the 2020 VMAs are adapting for the pandemic, honoring New York and the city's resilience through these trying times, and why activism holds a special place in her heart.
Palmer made history as the first Black woman to ever host the VMAs. See some highlights below:
The Advocate: How do you feel to be hosting the VMAs this year?
Keke Palmer: I'm totally excited. I love hosting. I love the VMAs. I always think they come with it every year, with the quality and surprises, so I'm excited to get into that. And I'm excited to bring some of that energy that I bring on my social media and hopefully entertain people in some of these crazy times we're living through.
There's no live audience because of the pandemic we're in right now. How have all the changes been for you? What should we expect?
It's gonna be different, but I don't know how much you're going to miss it. You're still gonna feel the same that you would about any VMAs. I think they did a really good job in making sure that energy is there, and it's really celebratory of New York because this is the first big thing filmed here since all the COVID stuff. We really wanted to showcase New York.
And then also, a lot of COVID regulations in terms of what our preparation has been like. Tons of COVID tests and very strict rules, so it's definitely a new world when it comes to creating shows, but I'm excited that we're kind of on the front lines of that.
It was amazing to see you out at the L.A. protests alongside the people marching, and that viral clip of you asking the National Guard to join the march was so moving. You don't have to be as outspoken as you are, so why is that important to you?
I think it was how I grew up. The main way I try to show my activism is through my passions, which is entertainment.
When I think of activist, I think of somebody who day in, day out, is looking over legislation and really being activated and the heavy day-to-day work. Me, I wanna be a part of it like any old regular civilian. That comes in how I grew up. My family really instilled in me how important it is to stay on top of the issues and use my platform for something other than just for myself. Having said that, I don't think that's every entertainer's duty or feelings or whatever, but for me, that's just how I grew up.
I went with Bernice King as a kid, and she'd take us on tours and I would go to conventions and I would hear these things that really stuck with me and I would really understand where we came from in this nation as Black Americans, what we've overcome, and what more is left to do in terms of making us feel really as proud as we want to feel about something we were a part of creating.
It just made me want to make sure I'm doing my part as much as I can when it comes to it.
What are you most looking forward to on Sunday?
I'm excited to see BTS. Doja Cat! And I'm excited for people to see some of the surprises we have in store and just really see how we're really coming with the 2020 VMAs during a pandemic and see a really good show and hopefully have a good time.
Palmer's new EP, Virgo Tendencies Part 1, is out now. Catch her hosting the VMAs this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on MTV.