Years of impersonating Angela Bassett finally caught up with Keke Palmer. The Nope star had to perform her impression for the Golden Globe-winning actor herself during a Vanity Fair sitdown published on Dec. 2. As the two reunited for a chat about their careers 16 years after their 2006 drama Akeelah and the Bee, in which they played a mother-daughter duo, Bassett couldn’t resist making Palmer do her famous imitation.
The actors barely got through pleasantries before Bassett steered the conversation to her onscreen daughter’s viral impression. “I’ve seen you. I’ve seen you online imitating me,” she told Palmer, as they both laughed. Instead of letting her former co-star squirm, she assured her that she’s in on the joke. “You do a great job,” Bassett added.
Palmer explained that she started doing the impression as a kid, and for years it was just for Queen Latifah, her Barbershop 2: Back in Business aunt, who would ask her to do it “all the time.” It was “just recently” that she took her impersonation to the internet. Still, even with all that experience, she said it was “insane” to finally be doing it in front of Bassett. Only after the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star encouraged Palmer not to “be shy” did she get into character as Bassett, playing Katherine Jackson in the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.
Bassett got into the performance, and by the time Palmer got to the line, “I don’t want you, I don’t want you, I don’t want you no more,” she had joined in. “Yes!” Palmer cheered afterward. “I’m telling you, that scene is too good.”
The sweet exchange proved that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. Palmer went on to gush about Bassett’s performance in the Jackson family-focused miniseries, plus recalled how “blown away” she was to work with Bassett and Laurence Fishburne in Akeelah and the Bee after growing up with their acclaimed 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It. The former Strahan, Sara & Keke star even pitched a future project they could do together: a remake of the 2001 comedy Heartbreakers, with them in the roles originally played by Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver.
Afterward, both stars shared how much they enjoyed their reunion on Instagram. “So glad I got to sit down with the talented [Keke;] we had a time!” Bassett captioned a clip showing Palmer’s impression. Sharing the same snippet, Palmer wrote that it was “too good” doing her impersonation for Bassett and added that she “had so much fun.”
Fans — even famous ones — also loved the interaction. “This is precious!” Lupita Nyong’o commented on Bassett’s post. Meanwhile, actor Tasha Smith called them “adorable,” adding, “Love love love.” On Palmer’s comment, singer Leslie Grace’s response said there was “too much greatness in one frame,” and Adrienne Bailon wrote, “This just TOOK ME OUTTTTTTT!!! Iconic! Keke you are EVERYTHING!”
It seems like a lot of people would love to see the two on screen together again — and it could provide Palmer with yet another opportunity to showcase her famous impression in some way. The demands keep coming, and she memorably brought it out during a July appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. Palmer took the time to explain her technique then, saying, “The key to Angela Bassett impersonation is all in the lips; she does very much with the lips.” Consider that gospel, because now her impression is even Angela Bassett-approved.