Kalen Allen is known best for his field assignments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he gained fame for his laugh-out-loud OMKalen segment.
Now, as the series comes to a close with its final season in 2022, the 25-year-old is reflecting on his past, present, and future.
“I have been in a place of evolution,” said Allen, a Kansas City, Kansas native, who began working with DeGeneres about three years ago. “I think right now, I feel as though I’ve spent a lot of time in a cocoon, and I’m kind of ready to break out of that shell and spread my own wings, and kind of create my own lane within the industry.”
After DeGeneres initially brought Allen onto her show for his viral YouTube reaction videos, Allen transformed into a celebrity overnight, an experience he described as “surreal.”
He explained he had planned to go to The Julliard School for his graduate degree until he came across food videos on YouTube and decided to try his hand at them himself. When the videos gained popularity, his hobby evolved into a career path. “I immediately took it as an opportunity and a stepping stone for me to create a lifelong legacy for myself,” Allen said.
One of the ways Allen has stood out is by refusing to be put in a box. “I do what I want when I want to do it,” he said, adding that he’s recorded a Christmas album, filmed a movie, and hosted a talk show.
Growing up, Allen was always self-motivated. As a queer Black man, he admitted he had next to no role models with whom he identified to turn to for inspiration. In his career now, in which he hopes to do more in TV, he strives to be just that for young people.
“As long as I am able to leave this world knowing that I made a difference, and I’ve made this world in this industry a little bit more accessible to somebody else, that’s what I feel like my purpose is,” Allen said. “I don’t do anything for my own personal well-being or for my own clout or fame, I do it all for the purpose of being able to create a platform and to open up doors for other people so that they don’t have to keep knocking.”