Teen Behind Viral 'Shopping While Black' Vines: I'll Make Them 'Until It Stops'

6:07 PM PST 07/23/2014 by Aaron Couch
Rashid Polo/Vine

Rashid Polo tells THR he doesn't relish capturing the racial profiling, but he has no plans to retire: "If it keeps happening, I'm going to be forced to record it."

Vine user Rashid Polo found Internet stardom overnight when Vines of store employees following him around went viral.

Polo, 19, took the Vines around his small Minnesota town and went from having a few hundred thousand views to nearly 30 million over the course of a week. But that doesn't mean he's hoping to repeat success in the same way.

"If it keeps happening, I'm going to be forced to record it," Polo tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Hopefully it doesn't happen again because it's very annoying and it's a touchy subject with many people.

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Here, Polo answers his critics, talks future plans and reveals his biggest surprise about his newfound Internet fame.

What does getting 30 million views mean for you? Could this possibly be the start of an online video career?

At first, I was making vines for fun. My first one was me recording that lady following me around the store, and then I was doing quirky things I had on my mind. Those were getting thousands of likes. At first I didn't take it very seriously, but  I feel like it could lead to something bigger if I keep it up.

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Will we see another one of the shopping vines in the future?

If it keeps happening, I'm going to be forced to record it. Hopefully it doesn't happen again because it's very annoying and it's a touchy subject with many people. Nobody likes being followed around and it's very uncomfortable. Their reasoning behind it is, "you're a young minority and you're probably going to steal, so lets keep an eye on you." I live in a small town, and I guess that's what happens in town. It's kind of sad, but if it does happen, I'm going to have to keep doing it until it stops. I hope it comes to the point where when I come into a convenience store, it's like, "Oh crap, we're not going to follow you. You're that guy on Vine."

Have you gotten any negative feedback on this?

Some people are commenting on negative things. "Oh, you're following them around with a camera. I would follow you, too, if you had a camera in my store." Well, Vines are six seconds. They don't know what was going on for the five minutes before I started recording. I go into the store, I'm trying to shop and if they start following me, that's when I start recording. I don't go in there looking for trouble.

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What's been the biggest surprise?

Buzzfeed making a whole article about me was pretty cool. I've read it my whole life basically. All these sites I've been reading having me on there — it's a lot to take in. Before all of this I had 100,000 loops [views on Vine], and in the course of a few days I had 10 million.

A lot of people first saw it on Buzzfeed. What do you think its role was in this blowing up?

I think it was going to blow up, because I already had a lot of followers who were liking my Vines and sharing them. A really big Viner with more than one million followers revined that Vine. When I woke up in the morning, I had thousands of new followers. Later that day is when Buzzfeed made the article. I think they helped make it happen faster.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch

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