Prince Williams/WireImage, Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Keke Palmer is still wrapping her mind around the downfall of her former teacher R. Kelly.
During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live last night, the singer-actress recalled her experience watching Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly, in which multiple women came forward claiming that Kelly used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse them and other young girls. Admitted Palmer, “The whole thing was eye-opening, painful, sad, disappointing and heartbreaking.”
But was she surprised, wondered host Andy Cohen. “Yes, because that’s not the side I knew,” admitted the singer-actress. “That’s not the person that I worked with. That’s not the experience I had. So, just imagine if you’re having a great experience with someone and then you’re hearing all this stuff it’s like, ‘Why didn’t you show them what you showed me?’ That’s the feeling I had.”
“I hated talking about it because I felt like, man, you were a friend to me but then I’m seeing you as a foe to others and I’m hurt for them,” she continued. “How do I feel about it? How do I put myself in this position now? It was very sad. I think that anybody that loved him as a person probably feels that way. That’s not something you want to hear about somebody that you cared for. “
Early on in her career, the Scream Queens alum, 25, was a student under the now-disgraced, seeking his advice on how to balance her passion for singing and acting.
“I spent a lot of time working with R. Kelly,” she told Billboard in 2017. “And one thing that he told me, he was like, ‘Keke, you don’t need to shy away from your acting. You bring that to a part of your music. You make that take your music to the next level.'”
However, after watching the docuseries in January, she saw another side to Kelly.
“Just finished Surviving R. Kelly and I have spent the last hour crying,” she wrote on Instagram. “As a student of R. Kelly’s for the time I was and having been around his light and understanding the obstacles he overcame as a child to actually be birthed into the musical genius he is today… All to put others through the same darkness he was running from is the most disheartening thing to accept. Many people experience hardships and do not allow themselves to find freedom through their passion enough to shine a light. R. Kelly received that grace from God. God blessed him to vindicate his childhood shortcomings and yet still he has slapped God in the face by his actions towards these women.”
“I am hurt and saddened because he could have been a blessing to these women but instead he repeatedly took advantage and that I can not accept,” Palmer continued. “I will stand by my sisters because that’s simply what’s right and what I hope discontinues this behavior in anyone. We have to be good to each other, not all of us accept the light but those of us that do must be responsible!!!! We can not take advantage of each other or accept when someone else does.”
The three-time Grammy winner has continued to deny all claims about him. In June, Kelly pleaded guilty to 11 new sex-related felony charges. Earlier this year, he also pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of sexual abuse.
During an interview with Gayle King, Kelly, visibly angry, broke down in tears: “I’m fighting for my f–king life!”
“You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that,” he told King. “All you have to do is push a button on your phone and say so and so did this to me, R. Kelly did this to me. If you get any traction from that, if you’re able to write a book from that, if you’re able to get a reality show, then any girl that I had a relationship in the past that it just didn’t work out—she can come and say the exact same thing,” he told King. “I’m talking about the power of social media.”