In her Williamsburg apartment, Keke Palmer finally has a moment to catch her breath. It’s the first time in a while that the actress, producer, host, singer and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree hasn’t been on the road, but she’ll be back on the move soon. Not only is Palmer attached to a new Jordan Peele movie and slated to star in a new scripted comedy podcast for Audible, but she recently signed a production deal with Entertainment One. She’s also trying her hand at something completely new: “I just started stunt training the other day. So baby, get ready for me to be the next Mila Jovovich.”

And yet, Palmer spent her moment of time off speaking to Forbes as part of our Ask The Expert Instagram Live series, sharing how she brings her best, most authentic self to work. 

On The Importance Of Authenticity

“It’s not easy to always assert yourself in the workplace. The confidence in doing that was encouraged by my mother. We all want to stand out, and our work, we all want to be acknowledged, we all want our voices to be heard. And that journey for all of us, whether it is entertainment or whether it’s working in a corporate office, it always has its struggles, because you’re dealing with misogyny, you’re dealing with competing with your peers . . . there are a bunch of people in this office that all want to be noticed. And we’re all trying to figure it out.”

“I think the number one thing is staying true to yourself. It sounds so basic, but it really is true. Staying true to yourself, and being consistent. It all lies in consistency because whatever they might not be looking at now, if that’s you, when they come looking for that, they’re going to know where to find it.”

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On Knowing When To Leave A Job

“It all derives from checking in with yourself, and asking yourself how you’re feeling, and if you’re in a situation, or you’re in an environment that’s conducive to your mental health. We have got to be our very first friends, we got to have our own backs. Nobody wants to hear, ‘I need to quit my job.’ Yeah, there’s an escape plan. But at the end of the day, if you’re not in an environment that’s allowing you to be yourself, then, yeah, you have to find a new one. You have to try to redirect what’s going on, because it’s not worth it.”

“Sometimes we get so focused on the goal, that we end up contorting ourselves into something just to gain success, and the success that we gain is not the kind that we were looking for . . . when you get to level ten, it’s going to be somebody else’s version of level ten. And the things you’re going to have to accept that you did to get there aren’t going to make you feel good.”

On Not Being Pigeonholed 

“I always felt so much pride in doing multiple things. I didn’t feel like I had to pigeonhole myself. It’s about what my heart is telling me to do, what I’m guided as a creative to do. This is how I want to use my platform and my voice. So it’s really bigger than what everybody else sees for me. And I think that really was the key. It was me being competent enough to go with what I saw for myself.”

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“A good way to guide yourself is by what your heart is saying and what you feel in your gut. I know it can be difficult, but it’s just the things that come to you that you just know is coming from the truest part of me. But you’ve got to be flexible in that as well. Sometimes I’ll think I’m going left, but then things will come around where it’s like, ‘Oh, no, you’re going right now. So I’ll put that stuff to the side and I’ll say, ‘Okay, this isn’t the time right now.’”

On Combating Self-Doubt

“Self-doubt is going to happen. It is not very preventative. Don’t be so hard on yourself. And when you have those moments of doubt, really try to pose yourself the questions that you’re up against in your head, because most of the time it’s our ego talking to us and telling us what we can’t do. It’s good to isolate that ego voice by saying, ‘Well, why can’t I?’ Turn into that supportive friend, when you start to doubt yourself. Say all the things to yourself that you would say to someone that you really, really believe in wholeheartedly.”

“And then surround yourself with the right people. A lot of times we don’t realize that the self-doubt that we have is coming from the type of energy we’re having around us. The type of information that we’re ingesting, the type of books we’re reading, the type of shows we’re watching. Revive and revitalize yourself, listen to a Wayne Dyer podcast or an inspirational person that you like and that you want to listen to, and surround yourself with good people that encourage you to keep staying focused. We can’t do it all alone. We all got to have a team.”

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