Keke Palmer, Common on ‘Alice,’ – ‘So much of our history is not available even available’

The new film is a unique take on Black history that allowed both actors to stretch their craft to new levels

Keke Palmer’s latest film, Alice, is officially in theaters. TheGrio caught up with the actress and her co-star Common, to discuss their new project, Black representation in film, and more.

Alice, written and directed by Krystin Ver Linden, finds the actress in a titular role unlike any she’s had before. In the film, Alice is an enslaved woman in rural Georgia who, upon escaping, quickly realizes it’s 1973.

After being rescued by Frank (Common), Alice has to come to terms with the lies that have dictated her entire life as she embarks on a journey to true Black liberation.

“Inspired by true events, Alice is a modern empowerment story tracing Alice’s journey through the post-Civil Rights Era American South,” the synopsis explains.

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals
Keke Palmer attends The 2021 Met Gala on Sept. 13, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“I feel like it’s very 2022 for many reasons,” Palmer said. “It’s new information dealing with Black American history, specifically as it pertains to slavery. I think a lot of people don’t realize that after the abolishment [of slavery] a lot of people were still enslaved, and I think that’s something we need to know.”

She added, “So much of our history is not even available unless you go to college, and then specifically a college that has a specific elective, that you specifically have to take…like it’s just too hard to get there. I think that using entertainment as a way to bring those things to the forefront is important.”

The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Red Carpet
Common attends The 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on Jan. 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards )

Exposing audiences to a story that many may not have even known was possible is a part of the power of Alice, Palmer says.

“Black people are dynamic. We are not a monolith. And making sure that our representation, especially as it pertains to our history is robust, is important because all of us didn’t have the same mentality. I think more often than not, our mentality was resilient. Our mentality was faithful. It was inspiring. We were willing to keep going and moving forward. Obviously, that’s why so many of us are still here today because our ancestors decided to keep on going.”

As Frank in the film, Common plays a “disillusioned political activist” who discovers Alice on the side of the road. The opportunity to play alongside Palmer and the significance of a narrative that uplifts Black women was not lost on the actor.

“I just wanted to be a part of it and to know Keke was Alice…I was like, ‘Yo, this is going to be incredible,'” he told us. “It just elevated it.” He added, “Keke is a very soulful person, a soulful actress. And she got to bring that to Alice and went to these depths and showed that.”

Alice is in theaters now.

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