I hear Kalen Allen before I see him. I head over to Elite Daily's studio to introduce myself to the star, but he's in a room across the hall talking about Beyoncé. I immediately smile, already confirming for myself that he's the same hilarious, extroverted person in real life as he is in his viral reaction videos on YouTube. And this video of Kalen Allen reacting to TXT's Elite Daily Dance Challenge made it even more clear — I was laughing so hard I almost needed to leave the studio.
Allen got his big break in November 2017 after posting a video of himself reacting to a cornbread recipe that included maple syrup and bacon. His first ever video got the attention of Seth Rogen, Chrissy Teigen, Debra Messing, and more. "When I posted the video that night, I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t use Twitter," Allen says as I sit down with him. "My Twitter kept crashing because of all the traction that it was getting online."
And Allen just kept growing from there, churning out more videos, like his reaction to a potato salad cake. ("I think that’s the best one. When I watch it myself, I still laugh at that one.") Less than two months after his first video, the one and only Ellen DeGeneres had Allen on her show for the first time. She had surprised him that first visit by giving him his own platform through her show. He now hosts OMKalen, where his food reaction videos and other priceless clips live on DeGeneres' website, EllenTube, as well as on YouTube. "It all happened so fast and it wasn’t something I was expecting ... I was definitely just expecting [to] come out to the show, say hi, meet her, and go home. I wasn’t expecting that two weeks later, I would be moving to L.A. and have an entire job and be around her every single day. I think that was very amazing," Allen says.
But there was something even bigger than a job that Allen learned through DeGeneres. He says, "To have have someone of her caliber believe in you, it really helps you believe in yourself. Because it’s just like, honey, if you could put this much trust into me, then I gotta make sure that I can live up to it. So I think that’s what I try to do every day."
After we chat, I ask Allen if he's ready to react to (and re-enact) our video of TXT doing the Elite Daily Dance Challenge. "I’m always down for everything ... Let’s do it," he says with a smile. He doesn't know many K-Pop bands, but he tells me he did meet BTS at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards. "I gave them peach cobbler and taught them how to say 'snatchin’ wigs.' It was great. I became pretty popular within the K-Pop community after that," he says. And he had nothing but amazing things to say about TXT and their epic dance moves after watching their Elite Daily video, too.
So, what's next for Allen? "I really, really want to do Broadway. And that’s because that’s what I trained in. That’s what I have my degrees in. I’m ready. I want to go back to the live stage." All I know is I'll be sitting front row at whatever show Kalen stars in next. In the meantime, you can check out his OMKalen videos every Saturday on EllenTube.