So you want to be famous? In this digital age, there’s a new formula: find the proper lighting, invest in an iPhone or Android, and nail speaking in 15-second increments.
To go viral on social platforms like Instagram and YouTube, establishing a niche, creatively writing short skits, and being consistent is key – just ask the latest viral star Papa Jean.
Papa Jean, who’s real name is Jean Lodescar Jr., is a first generation Haitian American who happened upon the world of vlogging or video blogging with a social media following of 11,500 users and growing.
“I did a lot of stage acting and I wanted to start getting into filming. I basically just started shooting little clips of these skits that I started writing and posting them on Instagram and YouTube,” Lodescar explained.
Posting his first clip back in March of this year, Papa Jean and his family of characters were created three years prior.
“About three years ago, I wrote a one-man show called ‘Toussaint Louverture’ and within that show I introduced five characters,” he said.
Those five characters became Papa Jean - main character and head of household, Mama Jean - wife of Papa Jean, Roland - the womanizing, romantic, Manoucheka - daughter of Papa and Mama Jean, and Lodescar playing himself; loosely based on generalized stereotypes of Haitian people and his own parents.
“My father’s name is Jean, I took a lot of things that he taught me in life and I pretty much infiltrated it through Instagram. It might not be specifically him but if you know my father you’ll see a lot of similarities with that main character to my father,” he explained.
Like Majah Hype, who targets the Caribbean community with comedic skits based on stereotypical Caribbean situations, Papa Jean narrows his niche further by focusing primarily on his own culture.
While they have similar audiences, Papa Jean feels as though their material is different.
“People have tried to compare me to Majah Hype because of the beard I have,” he said. “I think what we do is different; I have a whole family of characters, everybody is part of the family and it’s their situations that I put on video. It’s not just random characters.”
Since embarking on this journey, Lodescar wants to use his platform as a way to promote Haiti’s culture – especially to the younger generations who may be out of touch. He hopes to achieve that through his skits, speaking in English with a Haitian accent, folding in Haitian Creole, and broadcasting generalized skits that are relatable to any Caribbean household.
“What I try to do is broader the horizons so people can understand what the Haitian culture is; something as small as a little 15-second video can reach the right people, trickle down and eventually help Haiti. I’m not saying it’s going to be my video but people will learn what the culture is like,” he said.
Down the pipeline, Lodescar hopes to unveil a mini web series he has written, expanding to feature other actors, followed by a feature length film, and a revival of the one-man show that catapulted his career forward, “Toussaint Louverture.”
“The whole Toussaint Louverture’s story is a graphic story so sometimes people are more closed to seeing what happened,” he said. “After I shoot this little web series, I want to get a feature film movie off the ground and I want to be able to bring back that Toussaint Louverture play, now that I actually have the audience for it.”
Join Lodescar’s climbing social media ladder by following him on Instagram @iampapajean.