What started out as a video to entertain his friends led 24-year-old Kalen Allen into the spotlight.
Originally from Kansas City, KS, Allen attended Temple University in Philadelphia with a double major in film and theater with a concentration in acting. In 2017, Allen decided to make a reaction video to a chipotle cornbread recipe to post on Twitter for his friends.
Allen since posted many more videos reacting to food recipes and food trends, and they started to gain traction online.
“The videos happened by accident, I hadn’t planned on doing them regularly. I had a gut feeling that I should make a video reacting to this food,” said Allen. “The videos went viral and after a couple of weeks, Ellen [DeGeneres] saw them and invited me out to the show.”
DeGeneres ultimately offered Allen a job, which got Allen out to Los Angeles and doing field assignments for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” including red carpet correspondence for award shows and other off-site segments. For the last two and a half years Allen has hosted OMKalen, where he gives his one-of-a-kind commentary on hot topics and trending stories of the week.
OMKalen has evolved far beyond what Allen’s original reaction video concept, taking on making some of the weird recipes posted online, going to haunted houses and covering events such as New York Fashion Week, the Met Gala, and the royal wedding. Even during the pandemic, Allen finds himself working more on OMKalen because he is able to film from home.
“With OMKalen, I get to be more creative. I’ve worked more during the pandemic,” said Allen. “I’m shooting from home and creating more things that relate to staying home and quarantine — I want to share new innovative ways so people can connect.”
Allen is expanding beyond the digital space by starring in Seth Rogan’s new film, “An American Pickle.” The film centers around Herschel Greenbaum, an immigrant worker played by Rogan, who falls into a vat of pickles at his factory job and is brined for 100 years. When he emerges from the brine in modern-day Brooklyn, Greenbaum tries to find his family and ultimately ends up starting his own pickle company.
Allen plays Kevin, who helps Greenbaum get his pickle company off the ground. With his degree having a concentration in acting, Allen knew that acting was on the horizon for him.
“When I moved out to Los Angeles and got agents, I wanted to exercise those muscles — it’s what I want to do,” said Allen.
Allen has been a fan of Rogan for some time, so to have a role in “An American Pickle” was incredible.
“It was absolutely amazing, this was my first time ever being in a movie,” said Allen. “Being on set with actors in the industry felt like being in a master class.”
While Allen loves acting, there are tons of different jobs that Allen would like to try out someday and further expand his entertainment repertoire.
“I’m always about expanding. I’m working on a cookbook, I want to dabble in voice acting, I’d also like to maybe have my own talk show someday,” said Allen. “I want to do every little thing that this industry has available to offer.”
“An American Pickle” premieres on Aug. 6 on HBO Max. Follow Allen on social media @TheKalenAllen on Instagram and Twitter, The Kalen Allen on YouTube and Kalen Allen on Facebook. OMKalen can be viewed on ellentube.com.