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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Who's that in the WGUC studio? It's 'That Girl Lay Lay!'

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Cincinnati Public Radio
Nickelodeon star Alaya "That Girl Lay Lay" High poses for a photo with Cincinnati Public Radio's Brittany Mayti after their conversation Tuesday.

Nickelodeon star Alaya 'That Girl Lay Lay' High talks with Cincinnati Public Radio to promote the second season of her hit sitcom.

To her music fans and 1.3 million Instagram followers, 15-year-old Alaya High is That Girl Lay Lay, an energetic rapper and social media star who turned her music video success into a starring role in a Nickelodeon series.

But to her friends she's just Alaya.

"They know I do not like being called Lay Lay," the actress told Cincinnati Public Radio's Brittany Mayti during a visit to the station this week.

" 'Lay Lay' is really my nickname, and now it's my stage name. I just hear it all day. So I say (to friends), 'Don't call me that!' "

The Houston native came to Cincinnati to promote the second season of her hit Nickelodeon series, which airs 7:30 p.m. Thursday night. She didn't anticipate the mid-October Midwest cold snap.

"I did not come prepared!" she told Mayti, social media coordinator for WVXU and WGUC, and a fan of the TV show.

On Nickelodeon, Lay Lay is an avatar from a personal affirmation app that magically comes to life when teenager Sadie (Gabrielle Nevaeh Green) wishes on a shooting star. Lay Lay comes to life in each episode to help Sadie, and to experience "what it's like to be a real teenager" — to play dress-up, make friendship bracelets and eat cheese out of a can, she says.

Alaya described herself to Mayti as a "bubbly, highly confident small person … with big energy."

She has been writing, rapping and singing since she was 5. At age 11, she became the youngest female rapper to sign a recording deal with Empire Distribution in 2018 with her debut single, "Go, Lay Lay, Go," and danced on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Her music videos garner millions of views, with her smash hits “Mama” and “Supersize XL” having amassed over 100 million views on YouTube to date between the two, according to her Nickelodeon bio.

In 2019, she performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and made her acting debut in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.

"I knew I wanted to be acting sometime soon, but when I first started it was kind of rough … so I sort of lost my confidence for it, and I didn't want to do it anymore," she says. "Then a year or two later I ended up getting my own TV show."

Alaya also talked about the appeal of That Girl Lay Lay; gave advice to young aspiring performers; discussed her role models; and described her "passion project" after the second season airs on Nickelodeon and Netflix.

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Cincinnati Public Radio
Alaya High chats with Brittany Mayti in a Cincinnati Public Radio studio Tuesday.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.