Layla Kayleigh is a presence, and that’s precisely why she’s such a magnetic and masterful TV host. Co-hosting Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew with Mario Lopez, Layla magnanimously coaches contestants, while never missing a beat for a joke. She’s stunning, sharp, smart and savvy. For Layla, hosting is more than simply standing in front of a camera; it’s about creating a memorable experience for the viewer that can inspire as it entertains.
Hosting equals connection for Layla. She explains, “I feel like I can be comfortable in any situation and I can connect with anyone. I’ll always find a way to genuinely connect, because I’m interested in people, their stories and what they have to say.”
Growing up in London, Layla’s been determined to host a TV show since she was a kid. “I always knew I wanted to be a host; there was never any doubt,” she says. “I even used to make videos of myself doing fake interviews and fake radio shows!” However, it took a little inspiration from the most unexpected avenue. Living on her own and waitressing at a local London restaurant at 15, she served pop singer Seal. Layla relays the story, “Seal was in my restaurant, and he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to work in entertainment. So he said, ‘Why don’t you move to LA? If I can do it, anyone can!’ He planted this seed in my head. Watching American TV, I’d see Selma Hayek and Jennifer Lopez featured. They’re exotically beautiful and definitely stand out from the blonde-haired and blue-eyed talent I was used to watching. Seeing them, I realized that diverse women could succeed in show biz, and I knew there was a chance for someone of a mixed background like myself if I chased my dream in America.”
She set out for Los Angeles at 18 and instantly immersed herself in Hollywood culture. Layla’s vibrant personality and unforgettable charm landed her a spot as an extra on Friends and opened up the door to modeling. However, she still remained intent on becoming a TV host. So she made it happen—like all things she does—in quite an unconventional way.
She laughs, “After my own inquiries were turned down, my rowdy London roots kicked in. I decided to steal ICM letterhead, envelopes and paper—anything I could get my hands on—and I submitted myself for gigs on ICM letterhead. I’d call casting directors pretending to be an agent’s assistant, and I started getting work. I got G4 and Current TV that way. I booked all of these shows by really hustling for myself. No one will hustle for you like you.”
After a stint on Al Gore’s Emmy-Winning Current TV, Layla became a correspondent on G4’s massively popular Attack of the Show in 2006. Writing and producing her own segments, she soon became a favorite host on the channel. She continues, “I can write, produce and host. I’m capable of being a one-woman show.” Her multi-dimensional talents and prominence on G4 led to segments on Fox Sports Best Damn Sports Show Period and The World Poker Tour. Her resume soon ensured she wouldn’t have to steal letterhead anymore, and then MTV came calling.
Having grown up watching Daisy Fuentes and Down Town Julie Brown on MTV, one call from the channel brought everything full circle for Layla. After meeting with an executive two years prior, MTV hired Layla to co-host Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew in 2008. For her, Dance Crew is about more than simply entertaining. She elaborates, “People don’t even get to see what I like most about Dance Crew. I like to mentor the kids on the show. They go through rejection, and I help them learn about maintaining self-confidence no matter what.”
Ultimately, hosting and empathy go hand-in-hand for Layla. She continues, “I just want to make people smile and laugh. I’d love for them to forget their problems for five minutes when they’re watching one of my shows. I want to inspire people and show them that if you’re resilient and persistent you can do anything.” Layla’s journey and presence are proof.