We’ve been following Landon Bryant since his launch in spring 2023. With his LandonTalks profile on Insta and LandonTalksalot on YouTube, this Mississippi born and bred storyteller has blown up, serving new Southern Culture Vibes to an adoring fanbase, in what has to be the most artful and genuine profiles since the turn of the millennium.
At first glance, we were simply amused and entertained by this endearing Southern gentleman. But, it soon became apparent that LandonTalks offered audiences real information – on a culture that has not received much love lately – in a style that is deliciously educational. And, his platform is perfectly engaging; combining all of the elements of online media into effervescent pixels of performance POP art.
We had to know more, so we bought our editor less than a pound of coffee and bid him farewell – Do Not come back without an in-depth interview. The following is the result of his efforts – enjoy!
“The South is more of a state of mind than a physical border” ~ Landon Bryant
Anthony Brancaleone: Let’s begin in that place and time when you decided to produce these stories – what made you want to give an audience a better understanding of the South?
Landon: I wish I could say that I planned this intentionally from the beginning but truthfully, it all started in March of this year (2023) because I talk too much and one day my wife (possibly for her own sake) suggested that I tell my stories to the internet, so I did. I talked about Walmart High School, which we both attended. *Our school got blown down by a tornado in 8th grade (no one was present or hurt) and the solution was to send us to the Walmart building. We had just gotten a new super Walmart so the old Walmart was available to be partitioned into cubicle classrooms. People threw things over walls, clapping would start on one end of the building and go throughout, the principals showed up in Walmart vests… it was a whole thing. Needless to say, that went viral and I noticed a lot of people asking me what “fixin’ to” and “might could” meant over the course of those videos. So I decided we should discuss it and over time, it’s grown into a beautiful love letter to these people and this place and our shared culture.
AB: Are you able to define for us just what is the South?
Landon: I am expanding my view of what the South is as I continue to do these reels. I think the South is more of a state of mind than a physical border because I keep noticing people who are absolutely not from the geographical south relating to and saying very southern or southern-adjacent things. I love that. To me, the South is a vibe.
AB: I’ve been present during some heated arguments between folks from Alabama and Georgia over who is more Southern. Is there one state, one county, or one town that can arguably stake the claim of being the deepest South?
Landon: As a native Mississippian, I’m partial to my home state. It’d be pretty hard to be more Southern than the Hospitality state itself.
AB: Where were you born and raised? I assume you’ve had a life full of Southern tradition; what can you share about your upbringing, family heritage, and Southern influences that now appear in your work?
Landon: I was born and raised just outside the city limits of Laurel, MS so I got a combination of city and country culture. I grew up staying with my grandparents before I went to school and sitting in the red dirt of a corn field in the garden while the adults picked corn is one of my earliest memories. Family lunches, beauty shops, ice cream socials, homecomings, running from the family mule, playin outside all day with your cousins and then getting dressed up to go to a fancy southern societal event – all of it was my life and I didn’t know how special it was. It just seemed real regular.
AB: Did you attend public or private Southern schools? Art college? University? Is there a Literature, English, Grammar, or Theatrical element to your background or is this real-life persona an Autodidact?
Landon: I attended public schools in Mississippi and I am a big advocate for public schools. Almost all of the women in my family are teachers or nurses who educate in that manner so education is a natural part of my life. I had strong English and Language teachers throughout my time in school. I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read and books have always been a place of adventure and refuge for me. In college, I had to learn to manage ADHD and that made things difficult for me but I gained a variety of experiences and knowledge by bouncing from school to school and from major to major. I went from architecture to nursing to biology until I finally learned more about my brain operates, and with the help of the incredible Faculty and Staff at the University of Southern Mississippi, I graduated with a history degree. I’ve always been a theater person and have gotten the chance to play some incredible roles in class works over the years at our local theater, The Laurel Little Theater, which challenged me and helped me grow confident in front of an audience. What you see online is me when I drop all my guards and pretenses and just let myself talk in the most natural way I can. I may not sound just like that every day in my real life but it is my most familiar way of being.
AB: In your Reels you move effortlessly between Waffle House and the finer things – tell us a bit about your relationship with navigating the spectrum of Southern living.
Landon: Living in Mississippi is living in a dichotomy of high society and dirt poor. The nuance and code-switching it takes to move from mud-ridin to a Museum Gala is impressive and also ingrained. There are so many subcultures within the one county I live in and we all learn how to navigate respectfully with each other. It’s just how it is. We love the arts but we also love the woods! You can do both and that fits me perfectly.
AB:Smokey and the Bandit might could be my favorite movie that takes place in the South. I also appreciate Deliverance, and have a soft spot for Steel Magnolias (where, I think, I first heard of Piggly Wiggly). What are a few movies a non-Southerner can watch to get a better idea of the South?
Landon: Steel Magnolias is the holy grail of southern movies. It has everything you need to know about coming here all wrapped up into one beautiful and heartbreaking narrative. From my perspective, it’s the women that really run this place and that movie shows exactly how the real business goes down in the beauty shop. My wife got to play Shelby in our local production and it was very special to watch her and the other ladies in the cast (all legendary Laurel performers) tell that story in such a beautiful way, so I’m partial to it. Now I’ve gone off on a Steel Magnolias tangent and can’t escape it so Steel Magnolias it is.
AB: On another occasion in White Plains, Georgia, I got caught between a local in-law and a person from Birmingham, Alabama, both insisting their town had the best ribs and BBQ. The Georgian was a chef (gay, if that adds to the flavor) and while I credited his authentic country breakfast as being The Best Breakfast I Ever Had, I made the mistake of citing Dreamland BBQ (Birmingham, AL) for ribs and sauce over his local joint. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the Hissy Fit that transpired after that. What can you tell us about ribs and BBQ in Mississippi and are you able to share your favorite locations?
Landon: Ribs and BBQ are serious here and the truth is, it’s hard to find a bad case of those because you wouldn’t dare present someone with a poorly smoked rib or subpar BBQ, so you’re mostly safe anywhere you go, as far as that goes (do not hold me to that); but I’m partial to my sister’s. She’s got a catfish trailer, Carl’s Catfish and Ribs are one of their specialties and she does ‘em perfectly – they fall right off the bone.
AB: I learned through your IG that Southerners voted Peach Cobbler their favorite dessert…
Landon: Peach Cobbler did win our dessert showdown and that was a lot of fun to pitch desserts against each other March Madness style. Peach Cobbler won because it is ubiquitous. There is a peach cobbler at every event, typically. I’ve never had a bad peach cobbler and if you can’t have my grandma’s, I’d suggest headin to Pearl’s in downtown Laurel, MS. It’s home cooking in the old jewelry store and it’s the real stuff.
AB: Had my first Vegetable Plate in Wiedmann’s Restaurant, Meridian, MS. Of course, I discovered it came with ham hock, butter beans, and other non “vegetables” – delicious. Not sure I have a question about that but I will use this opportunity to ask how today’s Southern Gentlemen should go about courting a would-be significant other?
Landon: Anyone coming here needs to know that the term vegetable can mean anything that isn’t outright a piece of meat. It very well may contain meat so you need to speak up if you have meat-related dietary restrictions. Those green beans are absolutely not vegan and have a significant amount of bacon in them. There’re bacon grease in that tomato soup. I could go on. Basically, here, meat can be a seasoning so keep that in mind. But in regards to courting, first you gotta get her interested and if you can manage to do that, you need to head straight to her parents and discuss it. Cause you’re going to anyways, might as well be on your terms. (It still isn’t [on your terms] but you can feel more in control that way). But then it’s time to show your person how special they are by paying attention to them, which is easy when you love somebody.
“Anyone coming here needs to know that the term vegetable can mean anything that isn’t outright a piece of meat.”
AB: Describe your typical Southern Sunday …
Landon: Southern Sundays growin up consisted of a home cooked breakfast by my momma, Sunday school, “Big church,” and then a family lunch. We’d rotate between my dad’s side and my mom’s every other Sunday, and after the most delicious of dinners it’s either playtime outside or naptime, depending on how old you are. Then you wake up and head back to the church and do it all over again. You’d probably go to dinner after with all your church people. Sundays since COVID look a little different now and I’m very glad to be preserving the memories of those times in this manner.
AB: I’m curious to discover if there is a particular Southern myth in your neck of the woods that outsiders should know – something akin to Big Foot, Hauntings, Swamp Monsters, things like that. Perhaps, there is a Southern Gothic legend in your area?
Landon: Our myths revolve heavily around animal anomalies and they are mostly concerned with the ever elusive cougar. We’ve all seen it. None of us can prove it. But the entire culture is steeped in superstition and religion.
AB: When Southerners dream of the North what do they see?
Landon: Snow. And we have no concept of it or how to handle it. It is a mystery and an enigma. We want the snow but we are also very afraid of the snow and will shut literally everything down at the slightest risk of frozen water.
AB: Have you been North? Have you experienced snow? What are some other characteristics of the North that you are curious about?
Landon: I am very blessed to have visited many places and I’ve enjoyed snow skiing and all the great winter activities. What I’m most curious about the North is family life. I wonder about what homes are like and how the dynamics are. What unique words and phrases are used. That fascinates me with any culture.
AB: With the recent movies on Elvis and Priscilla I want to discuss whether the aura of the King still holds sway over the hearts and minds of Southern folk – have you been to his birth home, eaten a dough burger at his favorite burger joint, been to Sun Records and or Graceland? If not, is there a new or other artist that we should be listening to?
Landon: Everybody here has a Graceland story and we’ve all eaten the burgers and we all feel like we were a part of all of that (and really anyone who makes it big from the South). I love music of all kinds but if you’re looking for real southern music you’ve gotta look into country all the way to hip hop, gospel, and the blues. Real southern music is dirty and gritty and raw and has soul.
AB: We enjoy Cornbread and Milk every now and again. Would never consider raw onion but we have added 100% Pure Maple Syrup (either Michigan or Canadian). All those other maple syrup products are filled with fake sugar and additives, so stay away (even at Waffle House). I understand Cornbread and Milk is your favorite snack but what are some of your favorite Southern “Things To Do”?
Landon: Hard to beat cornbread and milk but my favorite southern things to do are enjoy this place and what it has to offer. I just spent an afternoon riding side-by-sides with some wonderful people on the sand banks of the extremely low Mississippi River in the delta here and watching the sunset surrounded by incredible people who love this place is special. We went from there to a quick clean up and changed into our “delta casual” wear to head to one of the nicest meals you can get in Mississippi. That kind of duality is what I love. It suits my ADHD.
AB: What are a few things that you have learned about the South through your own research
that you might not have previously known?
Landon: I knew we were unique but I didn’t necessarily realize how unique. I didn’t even think I had that much of an accent. Every week I say or do something on the internet that leads to questions from people not from here and I’m perpetually delighted to find out when things are “just a ‘us’ thing” and are more than just the words and phrases I’ve said and heard all my life.
AB: You are moments away from Super Stardom. Iconic status. Have any long form movies in the works? A rap album? Cookbook? Speaking Tour? And, how do you plan to utilize or work around AI moving forward with your platforms?
Landon: If I ever start rapping, you will know something has gone very awry. I am blown away by the opportunities I’ve been given and how quickly this has taken off. It speaks to how much people love to discuss culture and be an it nostalgic. I just had a clothing line launch with a luxury brand from NYC, Lingua Franca and I’m working on a book with Hatchette at the moment and it’ll be out in March of 2025. There’s some other projects in the works and I’m very excited about every single thing. I’m very proud of all of us because I think it’s more of a win for the South and the online community this account has created than it is for me personally. I think it’s huge to see the South celebrated.
AB: Can you share with us your experience with your first pet?
Landon: My first pet was a long haired black dog named Marty and I have a vague memory of that dog protecting me and my sister from a neighboring, less friendly dog and I’ve loved dogs and really all animals ever since. Marty’s best friend, a beagle named Penny from across the street, passed away and Marty ran off either out of grief or possibly to find her and got hit by a car. I remember being very upset by this and I’ve always had a hard time with any pet that passes. How people feel about and how they treat animals tells me a lot about them and I think having love and empathy for something you can’t even talk to is good practice and good people.
AB: I understand you are married and with children: What are some Southern family traditions
that you have handed down that maybe you didn’t expect and others that, maybe, didn’t stick?
Landon: Parenting is a wild and wonderful world. I had the best momma and daddy growing up (still do) and they were great examples for me to follow with my own son. They are a little bit more proper than me and a little bit more tight-laced but they taught me to love others as you love yourself and I think that’s the most important thing we can do so I try to show my son that everyday.
AB: Let’s discuss the literary arts for a moment – Who are you reading and what books are essential reading for the Southern Gentleman?
Landon: I’m currently reading Dolly Parton’s new book (her PR team sent it to me and I am beside myself that I am on their radar) but there is a LOT of southern literature to cover. I think Zora Neale Hurston was an incredible talent who was under-appreciated in her time by society at large. Her novels and her short stories, like Rattlesnake, changed my perspective on the history of where I’m from. She and Alice Walker impacted me greatly and I think they are important reads for everyone. My favorite book, though, is Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I also love his short stories. I have to say – these answers would change next month, I’ve just been on a Vonnegut kick lately.
AB: Not sure if you are aware of this but there is a Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Which, seems to stand against the Fake Lunar Landing Theory – where do you stand on the subject? Did we land on the moon, was it faked, or did we, maybe, discover something our government didn’t feel like sharing?
Landon: I love science and the past few years have turned me off of conspiracy theories entirely so I wince at the subjects. But living here takes a lot of cognitive dissonance anyways so watching a literal rocket launch while being able to dismiss a monumental moment for mankind is very, very southern of people. It does not surprise me in the least when I hear people say these things. These are “bless your heart” moments. In these cases, it doesn’t mean a good thing.
AB: You might be interested to know that my wife – Nette – has on our stove a 100-year-old cast iron skillet that migrated from Hammond, Louisiana. A hand me down from her Granny. Nette cleans and seasons that skillet to your specifications. The skillet may be one of the top 25 tools in the history of America – What is the history of your favorite Cast Iron Skillet?
Landon: I am interested to know that and I love that! Cast Iron Skillets are the one tool you need in the kitchen if you can’t have anything else. Everything happens in that skillet and it lives on the stove. It’s treated like a member of the family and all hell would break loose if you put someone’s seasoned cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. My grandmother’s name is Annette and we call her Grandma Nette, so Nette is special to me and she sounds like she is a class act knowing how to maintain such a valuable heirloom. My favorite cast iron is my great grandmother’s and my momma has it.
AB: Well, bless your heart, Landon…
(In a good way).