Kalen Allen Brings Laughter And Inspiration As Pride Month Keynote Speaker

He has 1 million Instagram followers, more than 145,000 Twitter followers, and his own segment on The Ellen Show, “OMKalen.” Kalen Allen spoke to a crowd in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium Wednesday night as Penn State Pride Month’s keynote speaker. He brought the crowd plenty of laughter, but also a behind the scenes look at how a 23-year-old Temple University graduate rose to fame.

Allen got his call to fame 18 months ago when he uploaded a video to Facebook reacting to a Tasty cornbread recipe video. At first, Allen thought nothing of it. He uploaded the video from his room at Temple, and then shared it to Twitter. Allen says the next morning when he woke up, his Twitter app wouldn’t load. That’s because the video had gone viral overnight, and now has more than 1.47 million views and close to 70,000 likes.

He made three more videos after the original cornbread video, all of which immediately went viral. Just before Thanksgiving in 2017, he made a potato salad cake video, which landed him a call from Ellen DeGeneres.

“I remember I was in class and all I saw was a message that was like, ‘Hi I’m so-and-so from The Ellen DeGeneres Show could you please give me a call back.’ I grabbed my friend and I said, ‘Girl, Ellen called.’ I left class and I called them back immediately,” Allen said, describing the moment that would inevitably change his life forever.

Guests got a little glimpse into Allen’s taste testing skills prior to the event when he taste-tested 3 of the Creamery’s most popular flavors. He shared that he isn’t the biggest fan of chocolate in general unless it’s frozen, so Death By Chocolate pleasantly surprised him.

Although Allen has been in the spotlight for more than a year now, he only came out officially to the public five months ago. He was on his way to Utah as a celebrity guest at the Ignite LGBTQ+ Youth Summit and hit upload on the post while he was flying.

“I was on my way to the event where I was going to talk to all these kids and tell them how to be their most authentic selves, stay true to themselves and all that, and I was on the plane and I was like, ‘I cannot go up here and preach to these kids if I don’t do that in my own life,'” Allen said. He added this was the hardest thing he has ever had to do.

Being in the spotlight was not something Allen ever imagined for himself. Even as a theatre major, he explained how he’s more comfortable in front of a live audience than a camera. It’s made him adjust to such a different lifestyle in such a short amount of time.

Allen spoke to the audience about how he doesn’t let the label of a young, gay, black man define him and he challenges them to not confine themselves to any labels. He’s breaking down barriers and gives a lot of credit to the welcoming and opening work environment on set at The Ellen Show.

“I never wanted to be defined by a label. I felt like a lot of times when you hear someone say they’re gay that a lot of people say, ‘Well this is how you have to act,’ especially if you’re black and gay. I’m not trying to be put in a box and have people tell me what kind of gay I have to be. I would rather people just say, ‘Oh that’s Kalen.'”

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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