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Dads Got This: A TikTok star steps into the shoes of a father figure

Summer Clayton, known as Your Proud Dad on TikTok, makes interactive videos to be the father his followers never had.

When Summer Clayton first started his TikTok account, he had no idea he would become a father figure to over three million followers.

"It started out with these funny videos, and from there it kind of moved into something more altruistic," Clayton told TODAY's Craig Melvin in a "Dads Got This" segment.

Summer Clayton spoke to Craig Melvin for a "Dads Got This" segment.
Summer Clayton spoke to Craig Melvin for a "Dads Got This" segment.TODAY

The 26-year-old fitness trainer first began creating "how-to" videos on various life skills. Then he decided to try something different: creating an interactive video inviting viewers to dine with their perfect dad.

Clayton, who is not a parent, said the videos mostly consist of a virtual check-in with the viewers on the other side. Most of the videos show two plates of food, one for the viewer and one for Clayton, as he talks to the camera. Coined "Dinner with Dad," the series quickly took off, defining his social media account and garnering a loyal following.

"I think I realized right away that there were people who didn’t have that sort of interaction" with their own fathers, Clayton said. "They made comparisons between what they saw in me versus the relationships they saw with their parents."

Those comments came from fans like Bree Roberts. Roberts said she didn't grow up with a father figure in her life and appreciates what Clayton is doing with his social media presence.

"I feel like he literally almost looks at all of his followers as if they are his children," she said. "He has our best interests in mind, and it's hard to find genuine people — especially on TikTok."

Clayton said he has had a rocky relationship with his own father, and though they got along well when he was younger, it "really broke down" somewhere along the way. However, he said he's been able to have honest conversations with his parents and has begun to heal those relationships.

Clayton has over three million followers on TikTok.
Clayton has over three million followers on TikTok.TODAY

The TikTok influencer said he's glad he's been able to make an impact, not just on people who see him as a father, but also on parents taking notes about how they want to raise their own children.

"(It's) really fulfilling to know that they see me that way and not as just some random guy talking to his phone or on the Internet, you know, with two plates of food," Clayton said.

And in case anyone is wondering what happens with the second plate of food after the TikTok is finished, Clayton has the answer: "I eat it. Absolutely, I do."

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