Taryn Southern (born July 16, 1986) is an American singer-songwriter. She was part of American Idol season three's Top 50, but first gained national attention with her video Hott4Hill during the 2008 Presidential race. She went on to host and executive produce DirecTV's first original series, Project My World before landing other jobs in the entertainment industry.
Southern grew up in Wichita, Kansas and landed her first starring role in a pre-Broadway theatrical production at the age of 10. As a teenager, she co-hosted a regional talk show for WB Kansas that discussed teen issues.
She graduated from Wichita East High School in 2003.
At 20, Southern graduated from the University of Miami, earning a B.S. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Journalism. While in school she competed in American Idol and received a grant to travel to Peru to study the shamanic use of ayahuasca among rainforest communities.
In 2004, at 17, she appeared on the third season of American Idol, making it to Hollywood week and the Top 50.
She produced a travel show, Project MyWorld, for DirecTV, which followed her and two friends as they traveled the world and met their MySpace friends.
On July 2, 2007, she released a YouTube video called Hott4Hill in support of the first failed presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. The video, which she wrote and performed as a satire of the Obama Girl video, shows her singing and dancing in a suggestive manner about her personal admiration of Clinton and how much she would like to see Clinton win the election. That same year, Southern starred in the first WB online series, Sorority Forever, alongside best friend and lonelygirl15 star Jessica Rose.
In November 2008, Southern and Jessica Rose launched Webutantes, a new media studio. Also in 2008, Southern wrote/produced her first comedic musical web series, Private High Musical, which was released across various media platforms, and which was later sold to MTV as a half-hour comedy pilot, with David Zuckerman as co-writer/executive producer.
In 2010, she had a recurring role in the 5th season of the CBS comedy series Rules of Engagement, as well as a part in the movie Battle: Los Angeles as a reporter.
Also in 2010, she started working on her 2012 debut comedy album, On My Face, which reached #20 on the iTunes comedy chart. Since then, Southern has released more than 30 different songs and covers as well as an 80's inspired album, Flashback Friday.
In the fall of 2011, Southern hosted the pre-show for the US version of The X Factor. She also provided voice over for the character Judy on the Fred animated series on YouTube.
In 2012, she appeared as a guest star on New Girl, American Dad!, The League, and Guys with Kids. Southern also launched her YouTube channel in 2012 by releasing one video per week.
During Shark Week 2013 on Discovery Channel, Southern was the social media co-host on Shark After Dark Live, which earned the #1 ratings spot in their time slot all week.
In 2014, Southern's YouTube Channel was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at #52.
Southern began hosting the 2000s and Today Countdown on The Pulse in May 2015. She also debuted a series with Marriott that was later renewed for a second season. In 2015, Maker Studios also announced that they would be launching a late night talk show with Southern as the host. The series was an exploration of internet culture and featured guests ranging from celebrity/science enthusiast Seth MacFarlane and #1 Vine Star "King Bach" to psychedelic advocate Zach Leary and activist musician Kate Nash.
In 2017 Taryn began work on her album titled I AM AI, where the backing music was generated using Amper - an open source product which allows users to create music based on user generated inputs. .
She released the first single from I AM AI called Break Free in August 2017 about a woman who wants to break free of biological limitations. Break free features backing music generated using Amper.
At the end of 2017, Taryn released a song token using blockchain technology that enables hundreds of potential collaborators to split backend royalties on sales and streams of the track.
Taryn released the second single off the album Life Support in February 2018. The music video for it was released in 360 virtual reality after Southern received a grant from the Youtube VR Creator Lab.
On March 17, 2018, she became engaged to her boyfriend Bryan Johnson.