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Keke Palmer Says Jennifer Lopez Has 'Always Given Me an Opportunity to Shine' (Exclusive)

"I always loved her growing up, and then we became really cool on 'Hustlers,' " the 'Nope' star tells PEOPLE of her bond with Lopez, 54

<p>Kevin Winter/WireImage; Presley Ann/Getty Images for LACMA</p> Keke Palmer attends the 3rd Annual Academy Museum Gala at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 3, 2023; Jennifer Lopez attends the 2023 LACMA Art+Film Gala, Presented By Gucci at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on November 4, 2023

Kevin Winter/WireImage; Presley Ann/Getty Images for LACMA

Keke Palmer attends the 3rd Annual Academy Museum Gala at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 3, 2023; Jennifer Lopez attends the 2023 LACMA Art+Film Gala, Presented By Gucci at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on November 4, 2023

For Keke Palmer, friendship with Jennifer Lopez is a dream come true.

The actress, 30, was one of many all-star cameos in Lopez’s new movie, This Is Me…Now, but her love of the multi-hyphenate dates back far earlier.

“I love J. Lo," she tells PEOPLE during a conversation about her partnership with Cash App, who just launched their new Visa debit card, the Glitter Card. "I always loved her growing up, and then we became really cool on Hustlers."

In the 2019 hit film — which at one point sparked speculation of potentially earning Lopez, 54, her first-ever Oscar nomination — Palmer starred as Mercedes, one of the exotic dancers working at a strip club run by Lopez's Ramona, where a gaggle of dancers schemed to steal from Wall Street elites.

Since working together, Palmer says Lopez is "actually a personal person in my life that has always encouraged me and really always given me an opportunity to shine."

<p>Barbara Nitke / STX Entertainment / Courtesy of Everett</p> Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Constance Wu in 'Hustlers' (2019)

Barbara Nitke / STX Entertainment / Courtesy of Everett

Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Constance Wu in 'Hustlers' (2019)

Related: Lizzo Says 'Nobody Told' Her About Request to Be in Jennifer Lopez's Musical Film: 'J. Lo, I Love You'

Her cameo in This Is Me...Now as Scorpio — a member of the so-called zodiac love council who dissects Lopez’s complicated love life — was just the latest in a string of "awesome" experiences that she has the "Let's Get Loud" singer to thank for. “I was really just appreciative of that," she says of the cameo, which allowed her to "do some fun improv."

"[I] was glad that people enjoyed it," she says, though she was bummed that she "didn't get to meet" any of the other stars who formed part of the zodiac love council. "That part stunk."

Jane Fonda is probably the person that I really wanted to meet the most,” Palmer admits. “There was a few people that I was like, ‘Dang, I wish I could have met them’ — Neil DeGrasse Tyson and stuff like that — but it was amazing.”

Speaking to the legend status of her friend, Palmer adds, “She really has [done it all] and I'm really proud of her for her career."

<p>Roy Rochlin/Getty</p> Jennifer Lopez and Keke Palmer attend SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversation: "Hustlers" at The Robin Williams Center on December 2, 2019 in New York City

Roy Rochlin/Getty

Jennifer Lopez and Keke Palmer attend SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversation: "Hustlers" at The Robin Williams Center on December 2, 2019 in New York City

Related: Ariana Grande, Bad Bunny and More Stars That Almost Appeared in Jennifer Lopez's This Is Me... Now: A Love Story

The zodiac love council in This Is Me…Now is rounded out by Trevor Noah, Post Malone, Sofia Vergara, Kim Petras, Jenifer Lewis, Jay Shetty and Sadhguru, an Indian yoga nonprofit founder. Derek Hough, Fat Joe, and Lopez’s real-life husband, Ben Affleck, also appear in the semi-autobiographical musical film.

Writing on Instagram ahead of the film’s release on Amazon, Palmer said she “loved" being part of Lopez’s “vision” for the project: “You continue to inspire me with your dynamic career. You have always told stories and this next chapter you’re sharing is one for the books. As always I am learning not only from you as an artist and friend, but a woman and mother. Thank you for never giving up and for always thriving!!”

<p>Prime Video</p> Jennifer Lopez in 'This Is Me...Now' on Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video

Jennifer Lopez in 'This Is Me...Now' on Amazon Prime Video

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Noah was similarly excited about the opportunity to cameo in the “Waiting for Tonight" artist's project — and he learned about it after getting a “random call” from Lopez herself.

“You're like, 'This must be a prank,' " he told PEOPLE. "And she wants you to come and do a cameo in her visual experience, and you're like, 'Whoa. I mean, I don't know what I'm doing, but OK, I'll join in.’ ”

The former Daily Show host added of the film, "There's just a fun collection of people who've come together to celebrate an icon and somebody who has, across different genres, really just blazed her own trail. It was a lot of fun."

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