Francis Polo is a model, actor and social influencer focusing on fashion, health/fitness, and lifestyle.
Francis is a native of Lagos, Nigeria. It wasn’t until the age of 16 that he moved to the United States to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a model/actor but first refining his skills at Columbia College Chicago where he received a Bachelors in Film & Video. He also attended renowned training centers such as Act One Studios and Second City Chicago.
Check out my exclusive interview with Francis below:
Hey Francis! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello readers, my name is Francis Polo, I’m a fashion model and content creator originally from Lagos, Nigeria.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
An average day in my life begins with an early morning workout, catching up on emails and social media messages. If I’m not booked for a shoot or runway show, I’m likely going to an audition.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I studied film and video production at Columbia College Chicago, then later went back to school and received a master’s degree in Business Marketing.
How were you discovered and how did you end up also falling in love with modelling, why?
Growing up I never thought modeling was something that men did. I always thought modeling was strictly for women. When I moved to the United States from Nigeria, my mom introduced me to the industry when she heard about a talent search taking place. I went to the talent searched and a few months after that I got to appear in a Pepsi commercial, the experience was surreal and it really made me fall in love with the industry.
What was your first audition process like?
The first agency I went to go visit sent me on my first audition. As soon as I walked into their office, one of the agents looked at me and screamed “OH MY GOD, YOU”RE PERFECT!!!” then she followed by asking me if I could make it to a casting immediately and come back after the audition to sign a modeling contract. It was my lucky day, I went out to the casting for a Pepsi Cola campaign, my first casting ever and I ended up booking it.
Tell me more about your YouTube channel “Fresh Pepper”. When did you start the channel and what’s the main focus?
I started my YouTube channel in 2017 as a way to share helpful tips for aspiring models. The channel provides and in-depth look at the modeling industry and shares tips to help models look and perform their best. Periodically, I also post vlogs on the channel to share my personal interest and lifestyle with my viewers.
That’s kind of a unique channel name, what made you choose that name?
Fresh Pepper is a nickname given to me by my close friends in Chicago. I thought it was a pretty catchy nickname which is why I went with that for the channel.
What will you say made you decide to become a YouTuber?
Filmmaking is a big passion of mine. Prior to becoming a YouTuber, I made several short films that premiered and won awards at film festivals. Occasionally, I post mini shorts on my YouTube channel, like this short documentary I made about Tarkwa Bay, Nigeria.
What camera/gears do you always use in the production of your videos?
What editing software do you use and How long does it take you to edit your videos?
I use Adobe Premiere to edit my videos, it typically takes 2-3 hours to edit my videos.
Tell me more about your love for vlogging/storytelling and how you use it to communicate through being a model and acting?
My love from storytelling comes from my passion for filmmaking. Growing up I watched countless of films and would always enjoy the creativity in which the story was told. I try to do that with my videos and hope to get better at it.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever experienced on the job?
I did a photoshoot last year where I had to shave my legs. That was the first time I’ve ever done that.
As a YouTuber, what will you say are your 5 Dos and Don’t when it comes to vlogging?
As far as ‘Dos’:
- I’ll say have fun
- Show personality
- Engage with your audience
- Find a niche
- Be creative.
- Don’t try to be something you’re not
- Don’t use profanity in your videos as it would hurt your channel growth
- Don’t make your videos too long especially when you’re just starting out
- Don’t create content that might be offensive
- Don’t ask people to subscribe without providing value or giving them a reason why.
Do you think we are taking our health and wellbeing seriously?
Yes, I believe the measures we’re taking is necessary
Talking about fitness, considering all gyms are closed what ways can people still workout?
With gyms being closed, its important that we watch what we eat. We can still go for a run, do some home exercises or even a guided yoga session that can be found on YouTube.
What’s your take on COVID-19 and the current lockdown extension in Los Angeles?
It’s tragic what’s happening, so many lives have been lost due to the virus and so many people are grieving the loss of a loved one. I think we collectively need to continue social distancing and follow the guidelines provided by the CDC to help us overcome this.
For someone trying to eat healthy during this lockdown, what meal plans will you recommend?
I have a detailed meal plan that I recommend to my viewers, you can find that here. It’s a low-carb meal plan that can help people maintain healthy weight.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I don’t know how I do this honestly. I’m still trying to figure it out, it feels like I’m busy around the clock.
How would you describe the modelling industry in the United States, when it comes to encouraging new faces?
The modeling industry loves new faces and they’re constantly looking for the next top model. There are so much more opportunities in the United States compared to other countries which is why models here are generally more successful.
You are represented by Role Model Management, and EMG Models. How easy or what are the things new faces have to do to be picked by an agency?
If you have the looks and meet the requirements the agency is looking for then it is very easy to get represented. All you have to do is an online submission or attend their open call if they provide that opportunity.
What do you consider the most common stereotype about the being an actor?
A stereotype I’ve heard a lot is that actors are self-centered, I don’t believe it’s true
What aspect surprised you the most once you started as a YouTuber?
I’ve had a few people recognize me in public places, I think this has been the most surprising. My channel is relatively small compared to the population, so to have this happen has been surprising.
Looking since you moved to the United States when you were 16 to pursue your life-long dream of becoming a model/actor, there as been massive transformation and improvements. What will you say as motivated/inspired you to stay dedicated to what you do?
I’ve always been a highly motivated person; this is a trait I picked up from my family members. I plan to do a lot more outside of modeling in the coming years.
Which brands, clients, photographers, YouTubers, models, etc, have you worked with?
YouTube has giving me an opportunity to work with so many brands, some of my favorite collaborations has been with MVMT Watches, Stryx, and JC Penney
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
I think my biggest success so far is being able to build my personal brand. This has exposed me to more opportunities beyond modeling and acting.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
Ozwald Boateng is one of my favorite designers, I love his creativity and his unique voice in the fashion industry. I’d really love to work with him someday.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I think my biggest challenge has been my location. I live in Los Angeles which provides a lot of opportunities, but I feel the need to travel to Lagos, and New York frequently for business ventures.
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
- I’m a pescatarian.
- I wanted to be a professional soccer player before becoming a model
As an active influencer focusing on fashion, health/fitness, and lifestyle on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
Yes I believe so, everything is done online these days. We spend more time on our phones than any devices we own so I believe this is the best way to reach people.
You are a native of Lagos, Nigeria, but now based in Los Angeles. How is that working out for you?
It’s working out great. Los Angeles has allowed me to expand my career and discover other areas of interest.
I know you travel alot for work and leisure, and recently was in Lagos for a month. How was the trip?
Lagos will always be my favorite city no matter where I go, there’s really no place like home. I was there for my sister’s wedding, so it was great to catch up with family and friends back home.
What will you say are your must visit travel destinations?
Lagos, Chicago, and New York
Name 5 things we should take seriously about our style choices?
Be original, don’t be afraid to experiment, dress for the weather, having clean and well ironed clothes goes a long way, and finally be confident
How would you describe your style?
My style is generally sophisticated/artsy with a dash of African print
What style genre appeals to you the most?
Bohemian Fashion, New York Street, and Sophisticated artsy seems to appeal to me the most.
Name your 5 must have accessories/essentials?
- A nice cologne
- Classic leather wristwatch
- Leather bag
- A wide-brim hat are a must have.
What are your favourite fashion trends?
Right now I’m a big fan of Cuban-collared shirts
What is your favourite dish?
Banga Soup with Pounded Yams (Nigerian Dish)
What songs are currently on your playlist?
I listen to a lot of Afrobeats, any songs by Burna Boy, Tems, Barry Jhay, and Niniola are most likely on my list.
Apart from being a model, actor and YouTuber, what other projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently writing a screenplay for a feature length film which takes place in Nigeria.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
The best advice I can give anyone looking to pursue their dream is not to wait too long, go after it, take calculated risk and do all you can to manifest it into reality. You want to make sure you explore every option, so you don’t live with any regrets.
Any specific plans for the future?
For now, I plan to continue to share my knowledge and experience with my viewers on YouTube, and in the near future, I hope to do more with African communities.
Any final words?
I’d like to thank Talk Media Africa for this opportunity. Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come.
Where can we follow you online and on social media?