Kalen Allen is taking talk shows to a new level. Known for his appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres show, Allen is now the host of his own show, Raised by Ricki, along with his co-host, television alumnus Ricki Lake.
Advocate Now | Kalen Allen
While Lake made an impression on the world nearly thirty years ago with her series, The Ricki Lake Show, Allen confesses he never watched an episode, only knowing Lake from her part in the beloved musical Hairspray.
"What's great about [the podcast] is that we get to go back in time, re-watch episodes, and learn so much about the making of The Ricki Lake Show," Allen tells Sonia Baghdady of Advocate Now. "And I get to kind of experience it for the first time, and it's just such a neat way to tap into nostalgia."
For Raised by Ricki, Allen and Lake have been viewing the old episodes to examine their content, and to shed light on the eras they know best. As the resident Gen Z perspective, Allen views the show through a new lens.
"I have no recollection of the show. So for me, I come to it with more of a critical eye to everything that's happening on the show," he explains. "I look to see if it's dated. I unpack different topics that are being talked about, I compare it to other shows at that time. I also compare it to different shows that exist today."
Allen believes his perspective is particularly important given Gen Z's advocacy in the face of a shifting political climate.
"[Gen Z] is very outspoken. We are very vocal," Allen elaborates. "But I think what's different is — I think people were always vocal about things, but they're never really had the resources and the ability to get it out into the world. We have so many different platforms that allow us to bring attention to so many issues."
Though his career kickstarted with Ellen DeGeneres, Allen shares that Lake's hosting style has always stood out to him.
"Ricki was kind of like the middle person. Ricki wasn't like, 'I'm a celebrity, this is my show, I'm the host.' She did a very good job of creating an equal playing field," he says. "I think that's what makes the show unique from other shows."
As for how he and Lake get along as co-hosts, Allen believes that the dynamic is powerful, as both he and Lake have a strong sense of justice.
"We are both very unapologetic people and very authentic," he says, adding, "I am always trying to get Ricki to realize how much of an icon she is."
Raised by Ricki is available to stream online via Spotify. For more interviews like these, watch Advocate Now on The Advocate Channel.
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