For Colleen Ballinger — best known for her wacky online persona Miranda Sings — two of her biggest dreams came true within months of each other. In December of last year, Ballinger and her husband Erik Stocklin welcomed baby boy Flynn to the world. Just over six months later, she announced that she had been cast as Dawn in a limited run of Waitress on Broadway.
“Anytime anyone asks me what my number one dream is, it has always been to be a mom and to be a performer, but specifically to be a performer on Broadway,” Ballinger said in an emotional announcement video on her YouTube channel.
The close timing of the two events made her second-guess taking the role, but Stocklin made it clear there was no choice.
“When I was offered the role, I was like, ‘I don’t know,’ because of the baby,” Ballinger tells Billboard. “My husband was the one who was like, ‘Colleen, there is no option. You have to do this. It’s your dream.’”
And so Ballinger, Stocklin and baby Flynn packed up and moved to New York City at the beginning of August, along with Colleen’s mom Gwen Ballinger and best friend Kory DeSoto.
Though Ballinger’s support system has made it possible for her to balance Broadway with being a new mother, she doesn’t think of her situation as particularly unique.
“I feel like it’s the same as any other parent: You just do it,” Ballinger says. “You look at your schedule and your brain feels like it’s going to explode, but you just do it.”
Beyond simply being on Broadway, Ballinger also gets to perform with her friend and fellow YouTuber Todrick Hall, who originally suggested Ballinger to the Waitress producers. Hall is playing Dawn’s love interest, Ogie, in the limited run.
“I’ve known Todrick for 10 years. I still can’t even believe it’s real,” Ballinger says. “We had our first rehearsal onstage together the other day, and I was just giggling, like I couldn’t even get through my lines because I couldn’t believe I was saying them to Todrick on a Broadway stage.”
Of Dawn, Ballinger says she has always been her favorite character in the show. “She’s quirky and awkward and different. She’s kind of a misfit little weirdo,” Ballinger says. “I love this character because she is authentically herself.”
It’s almost as if Ballinger is describing her own personality. Her openness on her YouTube channel has only increased since giving birth, having uploaded videos dealing with topics such as “mom hate,” bodily changes after pregnancy and her son’s struggle with colic.
“I’m pretty candid and honest on my YouTube channel because I wish somebody would have done that for me,” Ballinger says. “There’s a lot of guilt that comes with being a mom that people put on you, so I’m happy to talk about the things that I feel like no one is really talking about.”
Something that Ballinger wishes she knew beforehand: What it would be like to get her period for the first time postpartum. In order to bring awareness to the subject, Ballinger partnered with Always Infinity with FlexFoam for an especially candid video titled “PSA: The Truth About My Period.”
“When Always reached out to me, I had just gotten my period again for the first time in a year,” Ballinger said. “Having that happen was really overwhelming because I kind of forgot how to do it, so I felt like I was getting my period again for the first time.”
Amidst a hilariously awkward string of skits, including a period-themed party, Ballinger drives home the message that periods are nothing to be ashamed of.
“I do want to be a voice for women out there who feel shy or embarrassed about their period,” Ballinger says. “I think it’s important to have someone out there say: ‘This is my experience.’ I hope there are young women who get a little bit of help from me being honest about my experiences.”
Watch the full video below, and catch Ballinger in Waitress on Broadway Aug. 20- Sep. 15.