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Designer Discovers She Has A Knack For Ventriloquy—And Becomes TikTok Star With Her Racy Videos

Layla, holding Ted, would like to do professional voice work one day. PA REAL LIFE

A swimwear designer taught herself to be a ventriloquist during the first lockdown. Now, she is a TikTok star with 30,000 followers watching her sometimes X-rated puppet shows.

With the foreign holiday market and swimwear sales crashing, Layla Mills bought a $20 boy glove puppet called Ted online and used it in a happy birthday video for her partner Stuart's brother.

When he loved it, she added a girl, Lulu, to her puppet family and started posting her ventriloquy efforts on TikTok.

“My company went into the ground when Covid-19 hit because no one was going on holiday," Layla said.

“I'd never owned a puppet in my life, but I started out using my hand to talk back to me, while I spoke with my mouth closed, like I was having a conversation – just for a laugh, as I was bored."

“Then I went online and ordered a puppet, for £15. I made Stuart's brother a 41st birthday video with it and when he loved it, that gave me the confidence to post videos online."

Layla Mills, 33, holding puppet Lulu, has more than 33,000 followers on TikTok. PA REAL LIFE

"I started with naughty clips for adults. In the birthday video the puppet was rude and called him a d***head – but people know it's a joke," she added.

Then, three weeks ago, Layla set up a separate profile, @FloxyKidsTV, to create videos for children.

"I do always say, 'If there are children around let me know so I don't use any bad language,'" she said.

"I created two separate profiles, because people love the rude humor, but kids want to see the videos, too, and I don't think they should miss out," Layla said.

Layla, whose adult online profile is @SoFloxy, discovered her skill for ventriloquy, where people make their voice sound as if it is coming from elsewhere, by chance during the first coronavirus lockdown in the spring.

Relaxing at home with Stuart, the couple, who met six years ago, were creating a prank video for Layla's sisters Ella and Karli, when they realized her talent for imitating accents.

Layla's puppets Ted and twin brother Eddie. PA REAL LIFE

"The ventriloquy was just untapped one random day when we were sitting chatting," she said.

Posting a comedy video on Twitter on the spur of the moment, she was buoyed by its positive reception.

"It gave me the confidence to post more like it. That's when I started doing TikTok, imitating the Alexa robot voice," she said.

"Next I made a video where I screamed with my mouth shut and realized I could be a ventriloquist. It's all been very random. And, after the birthday video for Stuart's brother, in the early autumn, I started using puppets."

Layla Mills, pictured with 10-year-old son Ollie and dog Foxy. PA REAL LIFE

Once she began introducing puppet characters, her TikTok followers soared.

So, as well as Ted and Lulu, she has a new character – Ted's twin brother Eddie.

"I produce live videos on TikTok, too, so people can comment and get involved. They always want to see the puppets now," she said.

“It's not hard for me to think of what to say, as I talk to myself a lot and to my dog Foxy. I've got one of those brains that constantly has ideas and I've always been a bit of a joker. It's like I've always got 10 different people in my brain – I am a bit like a child."

Layla's first puppet Ted was a £15 glove puppet she bought online. PA REAL LIFE

"I get on better with kids than grown-ups as they like what I've got to say!" Layla laughed.

Also uploading fashion content to the platform and snapshots of daily life, as a puppeteer, she makes her characters sing, dance and occasionally swear.

"With the puppets, you've got to make them sing and be a bit kooky, but it's difficult to do accents because you do have to move your mouth a tiny bit," she said.

Layla produces child friendly content for kids and videos with rude humour for adults. PA REAL LIFE

"Most ventriloquists leave their mouth opens and they grin, but I don't. I close my mouth, so I do it completely differently – but I'm still learning," she added.

"None of my videos are planned, they're all done on the spot. I don't rehearse or write them down."

Yet, despite her popularity with her TikTok audience, her son and stepchildren are not big fans.

Layla's camera and lighting set-up with puppets Ted, Lulu and Eddie. PA REAL LIFE

"Our kids don't like them. They find them a bit creepy," she continued. "I chased them around the house with the puppets once, making Ted scream at them. They were yelling, 'Please, no'. I annoy them with the puppets!"

"My neighbour's daughter stood on the doorstep on Halloween and she was scared, too! But kids like the TikTok shows. I get the puppets to say hello and they are thrilled."

Layla, who has never had any drama or singing training, has been accused by detractors of faking her videos.

Layla's puppet Lulu. PA REAL LIFE

"Once I made Lulu sing a whole song. It wasn't how I would normally sing but it's my voice," she said.

"People have accused me of faking it, but I can assure you that everything you see and hear is the real me. It's all 100 per cent real."

She has also received some disparaging comments about her appearance.

"I get a lot of stick for the way I look," she said. "I've had criticism of my teeth, my nose, my eyebrows, my head even!"

"But I deliberately take the mickey out of myself and ignore it. I've never got upset. Sometimes kids say funny things, too, but I just deal with it."

Layla produces child friendly content for kids and videos with rude humour for adults. PA REAL LIFE

"It's only banter," she said.

Layla now has high hopes of turning her TikTok popularity into a money-making venture when the pandemic restrictions end, with dreams of working as a professional voice artist.

"Everyone is telling me to take it to the next level after lockdown," she said.

Layla with her three puppets, Lulu, Eddie and Ted. PA REAL LIFE

"I'm nervous – but as long as I keep it funny and not too rehearsed, I think people can relate to it," she continued.

"Lots of people have suggested that I enter Britain's Got Talent, but it's not my thing. I've launched a YouTube channel, and once we can go out without masks, I'm considering taking Ted out and about, shopping, to see how people react!"

Layla films her TikToks at home with a ring light and smartphone. PA REAL LIFE

"I can't do it before then as you won't be able to see I'm not moving my mouth," Layla concluded.

"In the future I definitely would like to do something with him and all my characters. I'd love to do professional voice work, or something. Who knows, maybe one day? I never expected to discover this talent, so anything's possible."

Watch Layla's videos on Instagram and TikTok on @SoFloxy and @FloxyKidsTV.