In the latest episode of Baby, This Is Keke Palmer, Keke is first joined by her mom, Sharon, and then Dr. Drew Pinsky, to discuss everything from her childhood fame to personality disorders and how to navigate abusive relationships.
The episode begins with Keke and her mom reflecting on Keke’s childhood, and her parents’ marriage. She points out that the common belief is that most adult trauma stems from having toxic relationships modelled before you, and while her parents marriage was actually quite healthy, she says she still experienced a great deal of trauma, alluding to her relationship with Darius Jackson.
Dr. Drew is brought into the fold to help Keke connect the dots between how her childhood fame could actually be the culprit for her ending up in a toxic situation. Alongside Dr. Drew, she dug deep into her childhood and reflected on how being the only child celebrity in her family was, in a way, isolating, and fertile ground for her to become the victim of abuse.
"I actually remember, Dr. Drew, the moment that it happened," she said. "No one could relate to me — not my siblings, not even my parents. Anytime a dynamic is shifted like that it can get highly toxic, because no one knows how to deal with the trauma of being a celebrity, or having a celebrity child."
The conversation moved on to tough topics like personality disorders, narcissism and the cost of compassion, with Keke shedding some light on how her compassion has landed her in dangerous situations.
“I have great compassion, too,” she said. “But boy have I experienced some terrible things because of it. It’s like, having compassion for somebody that’s ready to kill you, it’s very intense.”
Keke goes on to share a swath of powerful revelations, and it’s almost as if in real-time, we are hearing her heal and absolve herself of any blame or guilt she may have been carrying for what unfolded between her and her son’s father. We’re also understanding, though, how, even despite her wealth and fame, she truly was the perfect victim of his (alleged) abuse.
During the conversation, she connected the invisibility she felt at times throughout her life, like not being seen for who she was other than an entertainer, even in her own family, and how that familiarity was attractive and led to her to Darius, who she felt also didn’t see her.
“Here it is again, someone doesn’t see me. I put myself in an intimate scenario with someone who doesn’t see me,” she said.
Through this podcast episode, it’s clear that Keke has been doing a ton of reflection about her relationship, but also, her life in general. Her intent on improving herself and her circumstances amid her ongoing legal battles with Darius has never been more clear. And despite expressing doubts to Dr. Drew about whether she did in fact do something wrong, he provided her with some comfort, saying:
"Keke, the person who is re-evaluating themselves, trying to do what's right, contemplating what they could be doing that's wrong, that is rarely the person who's doing wrong.”
It’s a truly powerful conversation and really embodies how she has prioritized herself and her happiness in the wake of this scandal, which hardly feels like the appropriate word, which became a topic of conversation when Darius initially complained about her outfit choice to Usher’s residency.
Her resilience since the breakup has been on full display – and her career is at an all-time high. This past weekend, she hosted the BET Soul Train Awards and got rave reviews not only for her hosting skills, but for the performance of her emotional breakup song, Ungorgeous.
I think her having these conversations, and breaking away from her typical preference for privacy, and especially choosing to incorporate her mom, who became emotional during the episode in discussing what she’s learned in her marriage, is symbolic. I once wrote that Jada Pinkett-Smith’s discontinued Red Table Talk was a place women were going to heal their mother wound, and I would argue that Keke’s podcast, and this episode in particular, is following that same path.
There is a widespread, genuine interest in how Keke has been managing the recent events that have taken place in her life. And what’s so refreshing is that the interest isn’t rooted in nosiness or malice, the resounding conclusion is that people truly want to see her do well in spite of this. And I, and so many others, have absolute faith that she can only go up from here.