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Keke Palmer’s KeyTV Team Encourages Career Pivots for Aspiring Hollywood Professionals

Photographer: Andy Jackson

After more than 20 years in the entertainment industry, Keke Palmer is embracing her media mogul era with the next phase of her digital network KeyTV. The platform, which prioritizes creators and particularly seeks out underrepresented voices, turned one last fall. In KeyTV’s second year, Palmer and her team have devised an ambitious game plan and strategy to level up and transform the network into an entity that uplifts and connects young creatives and professionals.

Related: Amidst Hardship, Keke Palmer Is Focused on Her Son, Company, and Legacy

The KeyTV team is led by Palmer and her three Keymakers, her general executives Lenoria “Nora” Addison, Jeff Lopez, and Chelsea Sanders.

“I like to think of us KeyMakers as a puzzle, where everyone comes in a different, unique shape or design with a different skill,” says Lopez, “and when we come together we complete that full picture. We all have this individual superpower that gets us closer to our vision: educating and empowering creators.”

The three Keymakers' differences are their strengths. Sanders is currently a “bi-coastal baddie” and the Vice President of Brand Strategy & Development at R29 Multicultural, while Addison hails from Wisconsin and has sworn by the power of the pivot for her entire career “adventure.” Lopez became Chris Brown's head of marketing at only 16 years old, and got his big break in Hollywood from Keke Palmer herself while they were both teens. (He became the social media manager for True Jackson, VP when social media was still a novelty, not the norm.)

With KeyTV, the Keymakers aim to democratize Hollywood by providing opportunities and opening doors for talent of color who otherwise might face socioeconomic barriers to entering the industry. “Keke gave me [my] first opportunity, when I had absolutely no experience when it came to TV,” continues Lopez. “I'm so grateful for that. Us coming together to give those same opportunities to others and sharing all that knowledge… what's the purpose of being in the industry, 17 years for me, 20 plus for her, if we're not sharing that knowledge with the next generation? I think that's really important, namely [for] creators of color who have not gotten that opportunity before, and not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera. There are a lot of opportunities out there, and I think we're here to fill that void."

Below, meet the Keymakers and learn more about how they got to where they are today, their career pivots and adventures, their daily duties as streaming executives, and their advice for anyone aspiring to work in media and entertainment.

(L-R): Nora Addison wears a Jane Wade jacket and pants, Christian Louboutin shoes, Swarovski earrings. Keke Palmer wears Fendi top, skirt, and gloves, Versace boots, and Swarovski earrings. Jeff Lopez wears Homme Plissé by Issey Miyake jacket and pants, J. Press sweater, Camper shoes, and Jennifer Fisher ring. Chelsea Sanders wears a Hanifa top, Issey Miyake skirt, Jimmy Choo shoes, Dinosaur Designs ring, and Patcharavipa earrings.

Lenoria “Nora” Addison

Age: 33

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Keymaker role:

KeyTV general executive

What career did you want when you were a teenager?

When I was in college I was pre-med, so I thought I would be a doctor, doing either pediatrics or geriatrics.

What pivots did you make in your career journey?

There have been many pivots along this journey that has led me to where I am today. I used to work at a recruiting agency when I first moved to L.A. and I was recruiting software engineers for startups like Snapchat and Tinder. I was very excited about entrepreneurship, but not recruiting — so I ended up leaving the recruiting world and I launched my own fashion app, working with an engineer who I met while I was recruiting. We built a decent user base, but technology is expensive. I ended up dissolving the app because it got too expensive; so I applied for a job at AwesomenessTV and was hired in their talent partnerships department, signing creators and giving them production funds, brand deals, whatever opportunities we could cultivate based on their interests and internal offerings. This was at the boom of YouTube, social media influencers, and Instagram.

While I was at AwesomenessTV, that's where I met Keke — we started working together on a digital series for her YouTube channel because she was my client at AwesomenessTV. After AwesomenessTV, I moved on to the brand side of the industry and started working with different advertising agencies on branded content campaigns. So I was working at RGA, at Deutsche — big ad agencies with clients like Taco Bell, Samsung, Walmart, and Target — and I was building their talent content department within these agencies. I ended up leaving one of those companies and started pursuing my own beauty product that I was trying to raise capital for; I applied to the Sephora Accelerate program and I was a finalist.

But while I was doing that, I was getting offers from Patreon and talking to Keke individually about ideas that she and I had been mulling over and wanting to create. I had to make a decision at that point, on what would be the next thing. I'm always choosing to bet on an idea and definitely taking the non-linear path.

Keymaker Nora Addison.
Keymaker Nora Addison.
**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)

What’s a typical day like in your role at KeyTV?

I'm doing everything. I am basically a part of every single touchpoint of the business, down to when we're signing new creators to reading new scripts or pitches and approving those alongside Keke to overseeing the different production teams and producing the content to working with our accounting team on making sure everyone is paid and payroll is going through to making sure we have the right agreements in place to do the creative things that we want to do to protect the network and the brand to helping come up with event ideas or experiential ideas or even our own original KeyTV IP ideas to even thinking about the future of KeyTV and what kind of new partnerships we can consider. Today, for instance, I was on a call with one of our production coordinators and she needed to get a U-Haul for one of the productions. So I'm working with our accounting team on securing this U-Haul, talking to editors [about whether] cuts are finalized, and reading scripts. Everything all at once at the same time.

What superpower do you bring to KeyTV?

Being super imaginative. I am a person that really does believe that anything can happen, that you can really do anything. I think that's very much my superpower: inspiring others to believe that they can do the things that they want to do with a little bit of creativity, a little bit of strategy, a great team around you, you can make the things happen.

What does being a Keymaker mean to you?

It's a huge honor and it's a huge responsibility to be a Keymaker — that means that you can open doors for others. You can create opportunities for people who wouldn't otherwise have these opportunities, spending time connecting with creators and helping to affirm and validate the projects and ideas that they have, and then not only validating it verbally, but also giving them the resources to execute those ideas and distribute those concepts [through KeyTV].

What is your definition of success?

If you're in the room, you're meant to be in the room. You're there for a reason. You don't need anybody to affirm you. You don't need any accolades. None of the material things should be defining your growth or if you've succeeded. [What should define it is] the personal confidence in knowing that I'm doing my best, I've done my best, and I'm great with or without any of the titles or accolades or recognition because I'm willing to put in the work. I put in the hours. [My definition of success is] constantly growing within that and standing firm amongst all the noise.

What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in media and entertainment?

Don't be afraid to follow your interests and the things that excite you, because that's going to carry you through when you're doing the hard things. It is easier to do hard things when you love it and you're excited about it, but it's harder when you absolutely despise everything that you're doing and you can't even get through the mundane task. Follow those things that you're interested in, but don’t be afraid to walk away from things that no longer are serving you or you feel like you've capped out in that learning experience. It's okay.

People aren't staying at companies for 20 years. You get to build your resume and you get to own and tell your story like anyone else. Especially in your 20s, I think it's most important to figure out what things you are interested in and try a bunch of things, and then that'll ultimately lead you down the path that you're supposed to be on. Each experience that I've had has built on the other. I still take things from my recruiting life or my life at AwesomenessTV or my life at the ad agencies, or even my life at Patreon, and I apply that to my entrepreneurship life. All those things matter. It's like one big recipe to allow for the success that I can have at KeyTV — all of the skills and different offerings and connections and resources that I can tap into and put into this business. I'd rather have a bunch of things to pull from than just one. Don’t allow other people to judge you for that, just stay curious and be brave.

<cite class="credit">**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)</cite>
**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)

Jeff Lopez

Age: 33

Hometown: Camden, New Jersey

Keymaker role:

KeyTV general executive, overseeing all internal social and digital marketing

What pivots did you make in your career journey?

I started my career in journalism at the fifth-largest newspaper in New Jersey called The Courier-Post as a freshman in high school. I went from a column to over 12 cover stories for the paper, which I still have physical copies of. That is how I met Chris Brown. The paper gave me an opportunity to network into the field of music marketing and publicity, because I had to deal with a lot of reps at different labels. One thing led to the other, and I started one of the first social media agencies in the U.S.; I became Chris Brown's head of marketing, believe it or not, at the age of 16. This was at Chris's prime when he was just starting his pop career.

I became Chris Brown’s head of marketing, left high school, and got an opportunity working with Keke [when] I was 18. I've known Keke for over 14 years — Keke changed my life. Straight out of high school, she gave me the opportunity to work on True Jackson, VP on Nickelodeon as the social media manager for the show.

During those four years in school before I made it out to L.A. to work on True Jackson, VP, I was rarely in school because I toured with Chris for the majority of high school after my sophomore year. I didn't have the typical school experience that everyone else had, and so coming from a small city [like] Camden, it's like I was discovering a whole new world and different possibilities. That molded me into who I am today, both professionally and personally.

Keymaker Jeff Lopez.
Keymaker Jeff Lopez.
**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)

What career did you want when you were a teenager?

My initial interest, even back in middle school, was to go into law enforcement, not entertainment. Coming from a Hispanic family, they value education, so I ended up going to college for one semester for criminal justice just to appease my parents. But I only lasted about a semester because I was already running my agency for about four years by then.

What’s a typical day like in your role at KeyTV?

Countless hours, around the clock, especially for me more than the rest of the team because I'm more on the digital/social side. Social and digital never sleep, so although we have a set schedule or a content schedule, we have to remain consistent with the culture, and that means staying up at wild hours of the night just gathering data. The first thing I do when I wake up is scroll. A lot of scrolling, a lot of reading.

What superpower do you bring to KeyTV?

I'm a champion. Because opportunities were [created for] me, I want to become a champion for that next generation of creators, too.

What are you most proud of about your work at KeyTV?

What gets me excited waking up every day is that everyone that's working on this network, in front [of the camera] or behind the scenes, looks like me. You don't see that often, and I've worked on many productions. I've worked on many projects over my 17 year-career, but never one like this where it's really reflective of who we are. It's heartwarming.

What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in media and entertainment?

Do whatever it takes and don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to learn so that you're knowledgeable and you're equipped enough with so many different things to set you aside from the competition when you decide to take that leap into this career path. But there's a seat at the table, and a door and a key for everyone. You just have to remain consistent and put in the work to get to that point.

<cite class="credit">**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)</cite>
**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)

Chelsea Sanders

Age: 35

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Keymaker role:

KeyTV general executive and co-creator on the platform’s unscripted series

Current roles:

VP Brand Strategy & Development, R29 Multicultural (Unbothered & Somos); Co-Founder, Unbothered; Executive Producer/Host, Go Off Sis Podcast

What career did you want when you were a teenager?

I have always loved words and creating narratives. I majored in English and African-American studies in college at Yale, and that was my biggest thing: I wanted to work with words. I'm also from L.A., so entertainment and media were a natural connection for me, but that wasn't my goal. I fell into it.

What pivots did you make in your career journey?

I actually started out as a publicist in New York working with media and entertainment brands, and I loved being able to share a story. I went in-house at Refinery29 about six years ago because I wanted to start a story. I wanted to be able to create a story rather than just tell it. At Refinery, five of our Black editors came to me and they said, "We have an idea for something, and it's a Black channel specifically. Do you think you could help us create the messaging around it? Because we know that's what you do. We know that's who you are." I was like, yeah, say less type of energy. And so Unbothered, Refinery's channel for Black women and folks, was born. I had the privilege and opportunity to be a part of that founding journey and to help name it, grow it, even pitch it to our executives… that’s how I really got into my storytelling bag, and that’s how I really got into conversations that are for us, by us.

Keymaker Chelsea Sanders.
Keymaker Chelsea Sanders.
**Photographer:** [Andy Jackson](https://www.instagram.com/anndyjackson/)

What’s a typical day like in your role at KeyTV?

There's no typical day. I have a couple of duties: I work on overall KeyTV executive things, work across social, digital, collaboration, development, all of that with our shows. I also work on two projects that I co-created with Keke called Make It Make Sense and Dear Keke — that actually was my entry point into KeyTV as a co-creator of shows unscripted. That's really my specialty there, but it obviously grew into a larger sort of role. It really runs the gamut… we're a small, yet mighty team that makes things happen.

What superpower do you bring to KeyTV?

Perspective. Having come from media, having come from PR, having come from L.A., New York, all the things, what I'm able to give is perspective. That's something that I really pride myself on, having a very clear perspective, but also something that gives energy. It's giving some charismatic perspective. She's a Libra.

What has being a Keymaker taught you?

I have learned an immense, immense amount of patience and humility. I think one of the great things about being creative and working with creatives is you have an abundance of ideas and stories — but learning how to cultivate them, shape them, and make them real is a completely different thing. And it's not just for the people in front of the camera, it's people behind the camera. Understanding the education process was huge to be able to share that with creators, but also for us to know… because a business is building a brand, and building that brand means that you are uplifting and creating moments for creators of color to share their own stories. You have to be able to really, really support them and create an infrastructure for them to succeed.

What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in media and entertainment?

Don't be afraid of your words. A few years ago, someone told me that I was fearless, and I never heard it put in those terms… [that] I'm not afraid of the words that I write. It took me a long time to not be afraid of what I put on paper, to be able to say, yeah, that's me. This is what I'm doing. This is what I'm saying. Whether it's a yes, a no, a maybe, a sometimes — don't be afraid of your own words because your words are your power. Your words are your prowess. Your words are the thing that make you you, and for you to negate that or question that, it does not serve you.


Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue


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