You’ve probably come across Kayla Sullivan if you’re a mom who’s spent any time whatsoever on Instagram or TikTok in the last three years. The newly engaged mom of one riffs on her job as a news reporter in hilarious “reports” from the field — and that field is anywhere from her son’s changing table to school drop-off. The Indianapolis-based TV host first went viral on New Year’s Eve 2021 (more on that later) and has been on a roll ever since.

Her hysterical, honest, in-on-the-joke tone make her relatable to moms who are also in the thick of parenthood. And when I talked with Sullivan just before the holidays, we chatted about her beginnings, her surprise viral moment, and her soon-to-be blended family.

Scary Mommy: Can you talk a little bit about your dream of being a reporter and how the whole thing came to be?

Kayla Sullivan: Ever since I was in the fourth grade, I wanted to be a TV news reporter. Everybody who knew me knew I wanted to do this, and I did. I got a job before I even graduated college. I moved up to the main anchor really quickly. I was just doing the thing. I loved it.

Then, I ended up having a child unexpectedly. Growing up, I always had two dreams because I always wanted to be a mom, but I always thought that being a mom would be way down the road. I thought I’d accomplish all my career dreams and then I’d have the kid, the family and all that stuff. This just happened sooner than planned. I wasn’t married. I’ve never been married. This for me was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to see if I can still do this dream.’

My son was only eight weeks old when I got a job in Indy as the State House reporter. COVID hit when Allan was one. I was reporting really important information and going to work. Daycares were closed, so my mom had to help me. It was so stressful.

I just had to have a really tough conversation with myself and say, ‘Do you think it’s time that you give up this for now, maybe you come back to it another day, just so that you can be the mom that you’ve always wanted to be?’

I moved to Oklahoma and I took a PR job at the State House in Oklahoma, and it was fine, but I was bored. I started posting these videos of me reporting on my son. Honestly, the first one I posted didn’t go viral, it just had some views. There was a trend at the end of the year in 2021 where you posted the video that you thought should’ve gone viral. I posted a video again and I was like, ‘Salty this never went viral because I thought I was clever and funny.’ Then, it went viral that night. On New Year’s Eve 2021.

SM: Oh, that’s a riot.

KS: I remember being like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ because Carrie Underwood commented and said it was funny. I was like, ‘Okay, so this is fun. They obviously like me doing my news voice reporting on my kid. Maybe I can write an even better one now that I’ve got momentum.’ New Year’s Day 2022, I wrote the Olive Garden report, I posted it and it got 37 million views. My following just skyrocketed from there. Then, it just became a thing. I started adopting different objects as my microphone.

SM: It’s so funny.

KS: I’m going back through all these videos and I’m like, ‘This is so cool that I have a virtual baby book,’ essentially, of all the things that he’s done, the cute things and the funny things and the not so funny … funny now but at the time was just annoying.

A lot of people will comment on my videos saying, ‘I almost forgot about this,’ or ‘Oh, that was a tough time,’ or whatever. I think it just brings people back by me sharing this and it’s a creative way of sharing it. I went viral, brands started reaching out and I started making money off of it. But the main thing that was amazing was it gave me an opportunity to move back to Indianapolis to be on TV again and they gave me a three-day work week.

SM: That’s amazing.

KS: I have a kid segment, it’s called Kidding with Kayla, and it’s on Wish TV in Indianapolis. It just allowed me to be a present mom while also doing what I love. I’ve started hosting a lifestyle show on the three days that I’m there as well, which gives me that element of reporting and interviewing that I really missed because obviously, I’m reporting on my kid, but I had an actual journalism degree, I wanted to use that. It’s just been the best of both worlds and I’m so grateful that this happened to me.

I’ve started realizing just how important it is to comment on things that I like because you’re supporting people’s creativity. We’re not just making videos just because it’s easy for us. A lot of us are working hard on these ideas and trying to be creative. I never thought of this before I started making videos, but people wonder why we should be doing ads or why we should be making money, but you would never question whether you should pay a TV show writer. They’re contributing content to your entertainment.

SM: Do you see this growing past social media?

KS: I’ve started to sneak into some other formats lately. I did theater, so I really like writing skits. I think I’ll start doing more just content that’s unrelated to news reporting because I am worried that it’ll get old eventually or I’ll just get tired of doing it and my creative juices will stop flowing on it. I’ll always do some reports just because I have the news voice, might as well do it.

SM: It’s so good, too. You recently got engaged, and you’ve said that you are looking forward to sharing blended family content. Can you tell me what you’re most looking forward to?

KS: I think it’ll be fun to just take people along the ride… I don’t know what will inspire me but I am inspired to help other people. When I was a single mom, I was desperately looking for other people like me on social media because it can be a dark and lonely place when you’re seeing all these traditional families, if you will. It made me feel like I was missing out on something. I want to be transparent with people about some of that stuff and also use my humor to help people cope with some of the things that you face.

Now, I’ll have another parent to help me along the way. Jonathan [her fiance] is an amazing father to his 6-year-old son and I know he will be the best step dad to Allan. For months, I’ve been secretly recording the connection Jonathan has built with my son. I am so excited to make videos about marriage while balancing parent life.

SM: Have there been any completely mind-blowing celebrity or otherwise follows or, ‘They know who I am’?

KS: It’s surreal. I did a collaboration with Jennifer Garner. I was like, ‘Jennifer Garner follows me?’ Kevin Jonas follows me and, when they were in town, I got to meet them and we did a collaboration together.

SM: That’s so bonkers.

KS: It was just so crazy. Patrick Dempsey follows me.

SM: Oh, yeah, I’m sure you were like, ‘Hello!’

KS: I’m like, ‘The sexiest man alive he follows me. He’s probably laying down on his bed watching my dumb reports right now. This is insane.’ I will never get over the fact that social media reaches everyone. I think it’s so fun when people recognize me in public and they say, ‘I follow you on Instagram. You’re so funny.’ I was used to being on camera. I was used to being in front of people and I was used to getting recognized when I was in a small TV market.

We were in California and there was an incident. Firefighters were doing their job, but one of the firefighters was like, ‘Hey, me and my wife follow you.’ And I was like, ‘Do you want to go?’

SM: Go put out the fire, sir. How bad was your Spotify wrapped thanks to Allan?

KS: Allan every day falls asleep to “Baby Mine” by Alison Krauss. Then, he’s obsessed with Spider-Man so it actually made me look cooler than I was because it had “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee.

SM: That’s much better.

KS: Alan really likes Blippy, so that excavator song; he likes Cocomelon. I think I actually did a TikTok about this, but the Mario Brothers movie came out and Jack Black did this song… It was haunting me. I actually already vented about that song and I was like, ‘Jack Black, why do you hate parents?’

SM: I actually want that song back in comparison to what we’re listening to now, that’s how bad it is but yes, I understand. Do you have time for a lot of TV or any books on your own?

KS: Oh yeah. I actually love the series Workin’ Moms. Have you seen that?

SM: That’s the best. The best.

KS: I think Workin’ Moms is such a real representation of the struggle of trying to balance the two, and I just commend them so much for doing that show. If I have time for shows, I usually like mindless reality TV like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Selling Sunset.

SM: Do you have a go-to karaoke song?

KS: Recently I sang ‘Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.’

SM: Oh, that’s a good one.

KS: I probably like that because I was a news reporter or something, and it’s like I’m reading too much into it. I also used to always do ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ Do you know the group Straight No Chaser? They’re an a cappella group. They went to college in Indiana, which is why they wanted to do a collaboration with me. And so I sang with them and I was just like, I had a couple cocktails, I was feeling myself. They did the backup vocals to Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ I sang that with them and I posted it not being fully responsible. I woke up the next morning and it had 20 million views and I was like, oh, what have I done?

SM: All those drunken decisions, they’re always super fun.

KS: The funniest part is I genuinely don’t know if it’s good or bad because there were so many mean people and there were so many nice people, so I was just like, I guess I’ll leave it up and let the internet decide.

SM: You just have to just go with it. What is the most annoying boy habit so far? In my house, my boys don’t put the seat down after they pee and I cannot raise people who do this.

KS: He’s all boy. Everything he does is dirt and trucks. I’m lucky that I have a niece because I’m a girly girl. But sometimes life turns out better than you would’ve planned. I think my life is a perfect example of that because I always thought I was going to be the main news anchor, be like the serious journalist. But I enjoy my life so much more now… I can’t imagine being happier than I am right now, so I think it’ll turn out for the best.

SM: Speaking of things you’re looking forward to, what are you looking forward to most this year?

KS: I’m excited to share more of my personal life with people. I am passionate about helping people find hope because I know that was what I was searching for on the internet when I was feeling alone.

SM: Do people reach out to you a lot about that?

KS: A lot of people just have been like, Hey, I’m a single mom too and have asked me questions or whatever… I just think I’ve already been giving them a less alone feeling, or so they say, I feel less alone when I complain about some of the hardships with parenting. So I want them to feel less alone in the single parent dating journey, the blended family journey as well. I also have contemplated writing a book, starting a podcast. There’s just so many avenues that you can go once you’ve started content creation, so we’ll see. I’ve talked about maybe doing a TV show.

SM: That’s amazing.

KS: Right now I just like making content. I like being involved in the local community on Wish TV with my segments and the lifestyle show, so things are going really well.

SM: That’s awesome. I’m really happy for you.

KS: Thank you. It’s been a fun ride. I’m very thankful to everyone who’s followed me, and supported me, and commented, and liked because like I said, if you like content, make sure you make it known because that’s what’s supporting these people and giving them the courage to keep creating it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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