We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.
This week, we spoke with Nicky Champa (@nickchampa) and Pierre Boo (@itspierreboo). The couple shares their relationship on TikTok, where they have a combined following of over 25.2 million followers. The couple is best known for their videos harnessing the viral power of a “French vs. American” and “French vs. English” comedy dynamic.
The couple also has a strong social media presence on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, where they share over 3.8 million followers. They frequently post comedy, vlogging, prank, dance, and modeling content. They also released merch in the past and did advertising partnerships with high profile brands like ASOS and Google.
Champa and Boo told Passionfruit they were both aspiring actors in Los Angeles when they met. Both said they initially wanted to use the power of social media to boost their acting careers. After individually pursuing Instagram modeling, they started to share their relationship online. It was their dynamic as a couple on TikTok, which they said rewarded more intimate moments than Instagram posts, ended up contributing to their rapid increase in audience size and decision to pursue social media as a career path.
One year ago, Boo sparked controversy after saying he was 30 years old, leading viewers to speculate he was lying due to his young appearance. In a YouTube video posted in 2021, Champa and Boo addressed the debate. Champa said he was 25, and Boo continued to allege he was 30. However, recently, Boo changed his story to say he is 35 years old—putting “35” in his TikTok bio and showing a picture of a driver’s license with a birth date of September 1986. Users still speculate Boo edited the driver’s license, is pranking his fans, or is intentionally riling up viewers. In an interview with Passionfruit, Boo claimed he is not lying about his age. He alleged he used to lie and say he was four years younger than he actually was to try to help his acting career but is now “proud” of his age. Last week, he posted a video claiming he turned 36.
In their interview with Passionfruit, Boo and Champa shared why they started on social media to help their acting careers, their criticisms of Hollywood, why they switched from focusing on Instagram modeling to personality-driven TikTok videos, the success of the French vs. American couple dynamic, their social media business choices, why people view social media as a “game,” and how they respond to hate online.
The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Before you two became a couple, what was your history with social media?
Boo: I was trying to be an actor in LA. I moved here around my twenties… And I actually saw really the rise of social media. I was already here in 2010 before social media. I was a student to learn English actually…I never saw something serious in social media. But then, with time, I saw the rise of social media personalities. On Instagram, on YouTube, with Vine too. And I was intrigued by it and I was also thinking, would that be eventually something that will help in a career of acting?
Then, with a friend of mine that [took an acting class with me] was like, “I think you should focus on social media and I think you can do it… You know, let’s go to the gym, let’s do what they do, those pictures where you show the abs and all that, where you show a good angle, let’s do a little bit of FaceTune and, and let’s try it, you know?” And with him, we really tried and I was really trying to post on my Instagram and then I saw slowly the numbers go up and I was like, oh my God, I’m at 10,000 followers now. And this is the moment where we met with Nicholas.
Champa: Yeah… I actually went to NYU and then I dropped out of school after my freshman year to move to LA. So I had been in LA for like, I think it was like maybe two years. So I was doing the whole auditioning grind and all that. And then at the same kind of, it’s funny, like parallel, I was starting to see social media and how people with big followings were getting castings… [Pierre and I] met in an audition and we started dating. We actually moved in a month later, so it was very quick. And he kind of was talking to me about Instagram and how we have to really take this seriously… We did do that individually for like a year and he really helped me grow my Instagram and he kept growing his Instagram. And then there was a point where we’re like, why are we not sharing our relationship? Like, why are we not putting this on social media?… Nobody’s posting about like a happy, gay couple that’s like, you know, goal driven and you know, are doing this together, having this adventure together.
Boo: I wanna add a teeny detail [about] the first video we posted together on YouTube. It was a way for us to say we do not agree with that philosophy of Hollywood that actors should hide themselves, like should hide the fact that they’re gay… We really did not like the fact that in the Hollywood world, you have to be straight to play a role that’s straight… [There] were all these norms that we didn’t like and also all these boxes that [people are put in] that was bothering us. So that was the subject of our first video.
You’ve talked about Instagram and YouTube now, but what about TikTok? When did you start doing TikTok?
Champa: We did the Instagram thing until Musical.ly started coming around… Pierre was like, we gotta get on this Musical.ly thing. We gotta get on it. And regretfully, I was like, “No, it’s so stupid. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” You know, I just thought it was dumb. I was like, “Instagram is the way.” … [But] Musical.ly became TikTok, then we started to kind of see it more and more…. So we started posting on TikTok. And we didn’t know how to work the app.
Boo: We were not used to that format. We’re used to: choose our angles, choose the light on our abs… No personality at all… To put ourselves out there that way was a bit like putting ourself a bit more naked…It was less filtered. TikTok felt more and more intimate.
Champa: It was just new and scary for us because, yeah, we were so used to the format of Instagram… We were trying to figure that out. And then there was a day where [a TikTok representative] DM’d Pierre. And they basically were like, “You guys, we would love for you guys to take it seriously on the platform… And I will, you know, be your guys’ TikTok manager for that time.” And so we were like, “Okay, let’s take it seriously.”
How did you choose what content to make? What videos first went viral, and what resonated with people?
Champa: We were, like, watching trends… At the time too, it was funny. Pierre was trying to like de-French himself for acting. Like, he was literally trying to get rid of his accent [to make himself] more appealing… I could go on and on about the toxicities of Hollywood and how they make you change yourself. But anyway… When we did our first TikTok where, I think it was the French versus English where we started to do the cultures…. And we started just pumping out daily these videos of like getting Pierre’s reaction or French versus English culture… I mean like every day would be like 20 million views, 20 million views, 20 million views… the French versus English thing to this day is still the resonating factor.
Boo: Absolutely. So what I believe resonated the most with people at the beginning is little intimate moments for the relationship that we actually did not think would do that well, but we were trying to put out there. And the cultural thing about the French and the English/American.
What are the pros and cons you weigh when you’re thinking about different career opportunities, whether it be brand partnership, merch, or product lines? How do you decide what to do?
Boo: Opportunities that we like to take is things that go naturally with what we already put out there, like the relationship, the duo, Nicky and Pierre. For example, a brand deal that we had and that we absolutely loved doing is working with Google, for a commercial… It was Nicky and Pierre—me with the French accent, and Nicky in our house doing TikToks… [It has to make sense] with our brand first and then the opportunity and the dollar amount.
Champa: And also I think constantly keeping in mind, like where we want to go? … The Google commercial is like a great example because it was a huge set… They came to our house and it was a, like, 30-person production team… It felt more like a TV set… Unless it’s something I feel like we’re really passionate about, or we really like, or we again think is kind of put us towards that goal that we’re working towards, we usually say no… We take these things really seriously, ‘cause we also are here to entertain and we don’t want to be those people that are constantly pumping out brand deals.
Boo: If I could go a bit more detailed for the pros and cons… For me, a French accent, it’s good because then it’s very particular… the cons would be sometime we can get a bit in a rabbit hole of, like, being always cast for the same thing… You cannot enter a box of, you need to be the French guy, you need to be the gay couple and you need to be this… The difficult thing is gonna be to break out of this box and to show we can also do other things, and we can also [have] our individuality too.
Along those lines, what is it like to work as a couple while also managing your individual careers?
Champa: We became known for our relationship and then, you know, there’s like hints of each of our individual self. But I think that’s the mission. To make sure that there’s three characters in this film: there’s me, there’s Pierre, there’s Nicky and Pierre… It’s a game. You get pigeonholed somehow, like without even thinking about it. And then, and then you’re like, how do I get out of it?… It’s a work and it’s still in progress.
Boo: It’s a work, it’s also something that is very necessary for your identity…If in our couple, in our personal life, we don’t do the work of having some privacy, having some moments for ourselves [it] mirrors also the career side of things… If there’s something that you like to do and that I don’t like to do in content, on your page, or with other opportunities, then that’s something that you should work on and make sure that you get that time for yourself and that time to produce the things that makes you happy.
Do you have any advice for other creators who are hoping to maintain boundaries between who they are off and online?
Champa: I mean, that’s hard. It’s really hard. Cause I feel like we’ve had a few burnouts in our career… There’s times where we take time off… We just needed to be offline a little bit. And I think that’s okay—as much as my anxiety doesn’t agree with that statement, because I’m always constantly thinking every day is an opportunity to go viral…My advice would be like, listen to yourself. If you need a day, if you need to take a break, it’s okay.
Boo: I would also talk about [how] you need to keep control of what you think about yourself, and what do you like to do, and not let social media control that. This is very important. The likes is not a representation of how much you’re worth and who you are… And if possible, as much as you can, keep a kind of distance or kind of a bigger picture of what you put out there… Kind of be in your head your own manager and say, “All right, I get this amount of hate right now, that doesn’t represent who I am.”
Champa: In a way, you need to see social media as, like: it’s a game. Like, when people are commenting shitty stuff or being hateful, 9 times out of 10 [they’re] just doing it to get some sort of hype. I don’t even think it’s, like, directed, it’s more of, “How can I use this to now make me be seen more?” …I think if they saw you in person, they would not say they would not say what they wrote in the comment to your face. Like, it’s just like a game… [it’s] very Black Mirror. You gotta see it as like a Black Mirror episode.
I have to ask one last question. The fans are dying to know. Your age, Pierre—what’s going on with that? Is it a running joke, are you pushing people’s buttons?
Boo: No. So you know…That’s a part of my life. I’m a bit, um, I’m all over the place. And so when I moved to America—this is actually something, like very real—I had a lot of problems with my age as a teenager and as I moved towards my twenties, I always felt in my life, like I haven’t lived my teenage years, I think. And I understood, only now after 30, that I think that happened because I lived things maybe that was a bit too hard for my age. And then maybe had inside the feeling that my youth was taken away from me.
And then at 22, I decided to say that I was, that I was 18. So, and so this kept going all the way, my whole life until today… That was me dealing with my own issues and all the way until 35, I pretended I was four years younger… I was 31 when I was 35… I did a lot of work with myself and I realized that: “Okay, I understand Pierre, why you did that at that time.” And I decided to show myself some compassion… And I decided to put my age out there and be proud of it and own it and be happy with it. So that’s, that’s my real age. I’m really 35. I’m not trying to push anybody’s buttons.
Champa: The funny thing about Gen Z is like… I guess, like, when you’re 18, you do think 35 is old, but then when you become 27, I’m like, that is so young. Like this is such a young number. I don’t know. I just think it’s so funny how it gets twisted.
Boo: You always feel like it’s too late for you. Even when you’re extremely young, you always feel like, “Oh, it’s too late. I missed out. I want to turn back time.” I’ve always had an extreme, like, thinking of wanting to turn back time for some reason.
Thank you, Nicky and Pierre, for talking with us!
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