The Big Interview: Connor Paolo on acting in a social media age


Gossip Girl’s Connor Paolo tells Nerve Online the ins and outs of being a young actor in a social media age.

Edited by Imi Byers

An American actor with an impressive background in theatre, commercials, film and TV; as a student with too much time to spare on Netflix, you will probably recognise Connor Paolo from his appearance as Eric van der Woodsen in the much loved TV series Gossip Girl, or from his performance as Declan Porter in dark drama Revenge.

From playing a young Colin Farrell in Alexander (with Angelina Jolie as his mum!) to a shady pre-teen in Law and Order, Connor Paolo has had plenty of experience in the world of acting and is more than familiar with the struggle to stand out in the social media-obsessed society that us young people find ourselves surrounded in.

Ahead of his upcoming role in horror film, Friend Request, a frightening story of what can happen at the click of the accept button, Nerve had the chance to chat to Connor about how he made it into the industry, and how his own life is nothing like the life his tech-savvy character employs.

Watch the trailer here

'Friend Request' movie

‘Friend Request’ movie

As a millennial actor entering the industry relatively young, Friend Request’s themes on the dangers of social media, a topic that has always been present in his career. Despite his career really kicking off when he entered his teens, he says that:

It was never like this shock of everything’s really different now

Instead the industry took it as being more of a “seamless transition…it was kind of ‘okay, now this is how the world is”.

A complete contrast to his character (who is completely engrossed by the world of technology), he’s managed to stay fairly grounded by avoiding the majority of damaging elements associated with social media. He’s quick to admit, however, the one major negativity of these websites is their accessibility. While even us students feel a certain degree of pressure to be posting to the web, his experience is far more exaggerated. As a figure under the public eye, he is expected to be an actor that’s “incredibly accessible now” just because of social media.

In a world of celebrities more than happy to oblige to this, it comes as a pleasant surprise to hear that whilst Connor is aware of the high expectations, admitting to being “almost encouraged to take selfies of yourself right after you’ve woken up in your bed”, he’s happily detached himself, confessing that it isn’t something he “really understand[s] or feel[s] comfortable with”. Understandable really- who wants the chore of a dreaded morning selfie?

Sticking to what he believes in, he somehow manages to avoid being sucked into the addictive digital age. Fully aware of the dangers of online anonymity, he sees it as a chance for people to wear “masks and [it] allows people to get away with things that they otherwise wouldn’t”. Those cowardly ninja warriors quickly come to mind.


Do you dare?

Although keeping relatively detached from social media himself, he doesn’t shy away from the positive impacts on society that it can have.

Things are just unbelievable because of social media; you can really affect change… people can speak in a unified sound

This incidentally is certainly a good thing seeing as it won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

Angelina Jolie and Connor in 'Alexander' (2004)

Angelina Jolie and Connor in ‘Alexander’ (2004)

Connor is casual with his success in a nonchalant and matter-of-fact manner. Reassuringly his stories of being totally star-stuck reveal that even he is capable of completely losing his cool like the rest of us. On meeting Angelina Jolie, he admits that “he didn’t know what do with [himself]… and still wouldn’t know what to do with [himself] now”. Who can blame him? Would anyone be able to keep cool around such a goddess?

Friendly, balanced and downright humble with his entrance into the industry, he is completely in touch with struggle and has the perfect advice for any aspiring students with a dream of making it into the industry. Keeping it unpretentious, he advises simply trying “really really hard” with an “immense amount of persistence”. Recognising that it’s far easier said than done, he optimistically puts that

you have to be willing to fall down a hundred million times before you can walk

Friend Request tells the story of popular student, Laura, who happily shares everything with her more than 800 friends on Facebook. But one day, after accepting a friend request from a social outcast named Marina, Laura’s life is cursed, and her closest friends begin dying cruel and gruesome deaths. Before her time is up, Laura must solve the mystery behind Marina and her Facebook profile in order to break the deadly spell.