Right now, Colleen Ballinger feels like her brain might explode. She's making her Broadway debut as Dawn in Waitress, while also producing videos on YouTube, while also raising her 8-month-old baby. It's a lot to handle, but if anyone can do it, it's Ballinger. After all, for over a decade, Ballinger's taken the internet by storm as her quirky alter-ego Miranda Sings, so balancing multiple jobs isn't so hard thanks to all her practice balancing multiple personalities. The journey of Miranda Sings' Colleen Ballinger from YouTube to Broadway is pretty fascinating.
Ballinger is fulfilling a lifelong dream by performing on Broadway, but it almost didn't happen. Her friend and fellow performer Todrick Hall was already set to play Ogie in Waitress when he suggested Ballinger join him in the cast. But when Ballinger's agent's received an email about the gig, they nearly missed the word "Broadway" in it and almost turned it down due to Ballinger's busy schedule.
"I was like, 'Wait, that’s Broadway! Say yes to this one!'" Ballinger tells Elite Daily in an interview. "But yeah, I’m super excited. I lived in New York for years and auditioned for Broadway for years. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl. So the fact that they’re trusting me enough portray Dawn on stage for this limited run is really exciting, and I’m totally flattered and honored."
Ballinger has made a name for both herself and Miranda Sings in YouTube videos and with her Netflix series, Haters Back Off. But Waitress marks the first time she's performing work she didn't create herself.
"I write and create my own content," Ballinger explains. "Whether it be the Netflix show or my live tour or my YouTube videos, I get to write and produce and create all of that on my own. So to be working on a project that is someone else’s vision and someone else’s creation, I feel there is way more pressure on me to make sure that the creators are happy."
Even while Ballinger is making her Broadway debut, she's still busy writing, producing, and starring in her own content. Most recently, she partnered with Always to make a video about the joys of getting her period again after giving birth to her son. The video shows off Always products, but it also does something Ballinger has become an expert at throughout her career: embracing life's weird moments with humor.
"I feel like growing up, we’re taught to be ashamed and shy and embarrassed of our periods. And I think that that’s not fair, and it’s something that we should be able to talk about openly and honestly and not be ashamed of," Ballinger says.
Miranda Sings is a character known for her overconfidence and a lack of talent to back it up, but Ballinger is far from untalented herself. In fact, it takes a whole lot of comedic skill to portray Miranda, and it's that talent that led to the character taking on a life of her own. Ballinger thinks people were first attracted to Miranda because she's recognizable as the kind of person everyone knows in their real life, and over the years, she thinks changes in social media have helped make Miranda even more popular.
"I think social media is all about showing your perfect self and making sure you get that perfect photo and posting the prettiest video of yourself," Ballinger explains. "Everything has to be perfect. And there’s a lot of pressure on looking a certain way and acting a certain way. And I think Miranda is the opposite of that."
As Miranda grew as a character over the years, she became more nuanced. That happened at the same time audiences started to grow weary of the "perfection" of social media and more hungry for authenticity.
"As the character grew and developed, she became a little bit more human and I think now people see themselves within the character a little bit," Ballinger says. "There are some human parts of her that most people don’t show. Miranda embodies the opposite of what social media tells us we need to be. And I think that is inspiring to some young girls out there, that they can embrace their weirdness, and be confident in their weirdness and confident in their talents regardless of what people tell them."
Ballinger continues to juggle her many different roles, and while it can feel like a lot sometimes, her love for it all keeps her going.
"I love making people laugh with Miranda, and I love being open and honest as myself and talking about issues I care about," she says. "So I feel really lucky that I get to do what I love. That’s how I manage it all, is the fact that I’m passionate about what I do."
Fans can see Ballinger in Waitress on Broadway now through Sept. 15 and in her many other on-screen roles. It's clear Ballinger is making her mark in many ways — as long as she can keep her brain intact while she does it all.