You may not know her by name, but you probably know her face. Birmingham native Talia Lin is the leading lady of So True, Y’all and It’s a Southern Thing the popular sketch comedy videos that have gone viral across the South and beyond. Their clever sketches poke fun at Southern idiosyncrasies with a self-deprecating yet loving sense of humor and truth that explains their combined 2.7 million enthusiastic Facebook followers. We sat down with Talia to talk about the brands’ meteoric successes, her career, what she loves about the Magic City and more. Meet Talia Lin.
Tell us about your professional journey. Were your sights always set on acting?
Unfortunately, yes. But not on camera. I started getting involved with theater in high school and followed that path into college. While I do still love (and miss) acting on stage, it wasn’t fulfilling me enough on its own. I cycled through several odd jobs before I ended up back at the theater, but on the other side. I had to organize and run events. I got to dip into graphic design, videography, marketing and advertising. I was able to work directly with patrons and clients. It really forced me to grow and stretched what I had originally thought I was capable of. I’m very thankful for that, as it gave me the drive to chase this new adventure full-out.
Tell us a bit about So True, Y’all and It’s a Southern Thing. How did the concept for these brands come about?
So True, Y’all and It’s a Southern Thing are produced by Red Clay Media here in Birmingham, as is This is Alabama, which focuses on positive aspects of the state. This is Alabama started doing Southern-themed sketch comedy early last year and a few of them went viral, including “How Southern Moms Get Things Done,” which was my first project with them. As it continued to grow, we realized our audience extended far beyond just Alabama, so we started to develop a brand that could apply to the entire region. We launched It’s a Southern Thing in August of 2017, with the sketch comedy as the driving force. As the brand grew, we decided to give our videos their own identity in March 2018 as So True, Y’all. The name So True, Y’all stemmed from the feedback we pulled directly from our audience. It wasn’t just the South anymore. People from all over were telling us how relatable and “so true” our content was. So we ran with it.
Describe your typical day.
There is no typical. Every day is different, which can be stressful, but it also keeps me moving forward. Sometimes it’s a hectic day of running from shoot to meeting to audition, while also shuttling my kids around and eating in my car. Other days I get a break and remember that I haven’t done any laundry in a couple weeks.
Do you have any personal favorite videos?
All of the creepy ones. I love when we get to stray from our “norm” and be a little more outside-of-the-box. “There’s No Escaping A Southern Granny,” “If Unsolved Mysteries Was Southern,” “If Horror Films Really Took Place in the South,” “The Unsweetening” and “When Your Southern Accent REALLY Comes Out,” just because it was the first one I wrote.
Both brands have amassed tons of followers, some of whom aren’t even Southern. Since you are largely the female face of both brands, what has it been like to adjust to that kind of exposure?
The exposure has not been as much of an adjustment as some might think. I do get recognized every now and then (I love when people say hi, by the way), but sometimes it’s when I’m running to the grocery store after having just rolled out of bed.
While negativity will always exist on the internet, the majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m an Asian-American woman doing comedy about being Southern. When other women started to comment about what it was like to see someone who looked like them being represented in Southern culture — that moment was a highlight for me. Reading that for the first time was an emotional experience.
What is most challenging about your job? And what is most rewarding?
The most challenging thing is definitely the schedule. A lot can, and does, happen at the last minute. Often, I don’t know what I’m doing until the day before. It makes it difficult to plan a life out in advance. But the job itself is what is most rewarding. I genuinely enjoy what I do and who I work with.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
What is “not working”? I love to read. I’m guilty of getting sucked into a book and foregoing sleep.
Do you have a mentor or role model, and if so, why do you admire them or what have they taught you?
Honestly, my female friends. I have some truly amazing women in my life who I feel very fortunate and proud to call my peers. Whether it’s moving across the country to start a new life adventure on your own, moving across the entire globe to educate yourself and chase new opportunities, or busting your tail to grow and improve the arts and education right here in Birmingham, they are all strong, courageous, kind and driven BOSS babes who are passionate about what they are doing.
If you could go back 10 to 15 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Invest in Amazon, Facebook and Apple. And moisturize every day.
If you weren’t in your current job, what career would you like to have?
No, thanks. I’m good here.
What is your favorite thing about Birmingham?
The food. I tell every person from out of town I meet. I will always brag about what an amazing food culture there is here in Birmingham.
Favorite local restaurants?
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My kids, obviously. I see what a determined hard worker my goofy daughter is, and I see how creative my tender-hearted son is, and it gives me hope for the adults they will become. They are good people, and I had a tiny part in that.
What are your must-have style staples?
I have two modes. I’m either in Levi jeans and a nerdy tee shirt. Or I’m in a dress. There is very little in-between. And I usually wear Dr. Martens with both.
Any guilty pleasures?
Airheads make these sour candy bites that I can eat an impressive — or embarrassing — amount of.
What is your best piece of advice?
There is no designated path, no outline, no schedule, no rulebook for how you’re supposed to do life. It’s OK to figure things out on your own timeline. It’s OK to not even know what that timeline is yet. Life isn’t a race or a checklist. Oh, and don’t be a jerk. We are all human. Be kind.
Name three things besides faith, family and friends that you can’t live without.
I sleep with three pillows. I always wear mascara. And I love a glass of sweet iced tea.
Thank you, Talia, for brightening up our days, and thanks to Eric and Jamie Gay for these beautiful photos!
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