Bo Roberts is a model, actor, MMA fighter, and photographer. He has acted in 300: Rise Of Empire and the TV Show, The Mindy Project. He’s been featured in GQ, Cosmo, and Men’s Health Magazine, as well as graced the cover of DNA Magazine.
An ex-cop and licensed wrestler, Bo has won tournaments at the All-American International Jiu-Jitsu and the Sport Jiu-Jitsu International Federation. Team Storiyaan spoke with the powerhouse about his talents, interests, and career as a top-model
Questions and answers
Could you tell us about the trials you endured being a member of the riot unit? How did you surmount those?
Working as a CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) member put me in many radically different situations. From attempted suicides to having to encounter violent situations multiple times a week, the insane stories begin to repeat themselves. Looking back, I see how I was majoring in psychology in college led me to what I call “ground zero of human emotion” in law enforcement. Daily I was meeting and interacting with people who have drastically altered their lives, and often enough, having the worst day of their life. I handled the daily pressures by acknowledging their situation and responded by trying to make the process as easy as possible. My job was to keep order and safety in my section. I feel that mindset allowed me not to let the job rule my personal life.
You have portrayed your interest in photography. How do you come up with the impression of stimulating your directions through images?
I got into photography almost as soon as I got into modeling. I would look at something and would talk to my girlfriend at the time, how I would light the shot, where I would stand, and other details. She felt like I had an eye for photography and went in 1/2 with my mom and bought me a camera for Christmas. I began with landscape photography and then progressed to taking photos of my fellow model friends. Once I moved to NYC, I began rollerblading to my castings. While rollerblading, I would have my model book in a suitcase and my camera strap around my neck. This led me to street photography. Living in NYC, there is an evident presence of homeless people from street corners to most subway stops and train sections. I decided to use my camera to document this community and posted a couple of slideshows on YouTube so people could see what these people have to deal with daily. When I moved to Los Angeles, I met people in the local music scene, brought my camera to a show, and was hooked ever since. It’s fun to watch a rock show. It’s a much different experience when you’re zoomed in on the singer’s face and waiting for the perfect moment to take a photo. There’s an intimacy involved in capturing moments when an artist experiences bliss doing what they genuinely love to do in life.
How did you shift to MMA? Could you walk us through the preparation for the matches?
MMA came about by helping a fellow CERT member get ready to fight a wrestler in an MMA match. He knew I was prolific as a wrestler and asked for some tips. I showed up to help him, sparred with a few fighters, and fell in love with it. It gave me a way to feel competitive after high school. Prepping for fights was very similar to preparing for a wrestling match. I was always training as hard as possible, but losing water weight days before the match/fight was the make or break moment. If you don’t execute the step correctly, you’ll make weight but have no energy left when it comes time to perform. Fortunately, I had years of wrestling experience to help me.
You have won in All America International Jiu-Jitsu. What did that match in the day look like?
I won the All-American International Jiu-Jitsu and the World championships for my bracket under the SJJIF league. Showing up to compete brought back some butterflies for sure as it was quite some time since I’ve competed. I was fortunate to train with highly competitive people, so during prep weeks before the competition, we would train with points in mind and become much more aggressive during sparring sessions. Since Jiu-Jitsu is non-striking, we could train at almost 100% intensity. I relied on my wrestling those days. I was still relatively new to jiu-jitsu. I scored points by taking my opponent to the ground, and as the match would progress, they all tried to create distance and stand back up. If they wanted to stand back up with me, I was more than happy to take them down again. This mindset allowed me to accumulate points while I methodically worked for submissions. Eventually, the time would get low, forcing them to go for more extreme moves, leaving them exposed, which allowed me to advance my position.
Talk to us about your modeling journey. What were the trials and tribulations you faced in this career?
I’ve always been too old and too short. I lived a life before modeling, so getting into it 24 years old or other guys started around 20 put me into that category. I acknowledged my situation and enjoyed what I brought to the table. I was being offered contracts by top agencies; the flight and room paid for if I agreed to model in another country under a three-month contract, flown to various cities in the United States to model. Not every model has those opportunities. Since I was in that category, the fact that I wasn’t super young or 6’2 was always thrown in my face. Rather than becoming jaded, I celebrated that I was one of the top “body” guys. There’s still someone taller or shorter, younger or older to pick from. All I can do is be the best version of myself.
How did you hone your theatrical skills to divulge into the acting field?
I was offered a three-month contract to be flown to South Africa with lodging, travel, and daily food paid for, but I had already experienced acting thanks to a few non paid short films and micro-budget movies. I knew acting was the direction I wanted to go in life, so I passed on the offer and moved to NYC, so I could pay rent as a model, but also start attending acting school. I started doing every short film and bit-part I could get my hands on. I even attended dance school at the Broadway Dance Center to hang with friends, but the passion for performing was there as well.
What would your word of wisdom for the youth be?
I’ve dealt with murderers and models, Christians, and Satanists. We’re all trying to warp our realities into something more enjoyable to us. Some people are real. Some people are still searching. Encountering people with radically different backgrounds has led me to have a much more open mindset about life. It allows me to have the freedom to explore different viewpoints, and through that, I feel like I have a much better sense of who I am, what I’m into, and what I’m not into. An adage in business is that it’s good to have someone around you that you don’t always agree with. It forces you to hear opinions different from your own, and whether you agree or not, at least you can understand where someone else is coming from. With all that’s been said, please show respect to others as you have no idea where they’ve come from, what’s happening in their lives, and where they are trying to lead their future.