The Collegian
Saturday, April 20, 2024

Who is Tony P to the UR community?

<p>Graphic by Lily Wood.&nbsp;</p>

Graphic by Lily Wood. 

Anthony Polcari, ‘21, has gained a huge following on social media for his “25-year-old bachelor in D.C.” content. 

Better known as Tony P. online, videos of Polcari showing off his “Sunday fits,” going furniture shopping and cooking fish have gone viral - and his 133,000 Instagram followers can’t get enough.

His main social media presence is on Instagram, where his first reel on May 4th received almost 17,000 plays. Six months later, he has nearly 300 videos, each receiving at least 300,000 views with some hitting 1 million. 

Polcari lists his focuses as “cooking, fashion and adulting tips,” as well as helping his followers navigate their twenties and promoting positive masculinity. There is even an Instagram account for his fans, “The P Hive,” which has 13,200 followers, known as “Tony P’s loyal bees.” 

Before his stardom began, Polcari was well-known among peers at UR as the Richmond College Student Government Association president in 2021. 

Joe Boehman, the dean of Richmond College, worked closely with Polcari throughout his time at UR.

At the height of the pandemic, Polcari organized weekly Zoom meetings open to the entire student body and supported campus initiatives such as the renaming of Residence Hall 3 and the Humanities building. Polcari resigned from his position as president of RCSGA after the Board of Trustees released a statement on March 17 2021 stating it would not rename Mitchell-Freeman and Ryland Hall, according to reporting by The Collegian .

Boehman noted Polcari actively pushed for the student governments to research Douglas Southall Freeman and Robert Ryland.

“We had a lot of deep conversations about what the impact would be and the frustrations that the university had,” Boehman said. “I was always impressed by [Polcari’s] way of looking at the long journey and the small steps we had to take to reach the end goal. ”

While this was one accomplishment that Boehman got to witness, Polcari’s online success has taken him by surprise. 

“It’s wonderful for him,” Boehman said. “I never would have expected him to be a social media influencer.”

Today, Boehman remains in touch with Polcari, as he said they DM on Instagram from time to time. “He’ll comment on a post of mine, or I’ll shoot him something,” Boehman said.

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During Polcari’s presidency, senior Derek Gilmore, the current RCSGA President, was a first-year senator. 

“My relationship with him is sort of how you would look at a role model or a professor,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore noted that participating in student government during the pandemic was a monumental challenge, but that Polcari did his best to keep everyone united. Polcari made every meeting “something to look forward to and provided a sense of direction,” Gilmore said.

Polcaris’s presidency “served as the foundation” of how he “thought about leadership in that way,” Gilmore said. As the current president, Gilmore aims to “foster comradery” in a “group of vastly different people,” while also seeing “that common thread in people’s motivations.” 

Gilmore was also impressed by his platform and how popular he has gotten. 

“In hindsight, it makes so much sense,” he said. “Social media is so toxic most of the time, all about trying to show off your ‘perfect lifestyle.’ But you go to his page and you just feel good, it’s so unique.”

Authenticity is rare to find on social media, Gilmore said, but Polcari gives the public just that. “I couldn’t even fathom that there was this kind of content that was missing,” he said. “It’s such a testament, now that he’s blowing up, that people are just generally good people who want to watch his wholesome content.”

Sophomore Cole Breen is one of Tony P.’s many followers, one who is also fond of the “wholesome nature of his content,” he said. 

“He brings a level of authenticity that’s rarely seen amongst the influencers of today,” Breen said. “And he’s doing all this in a world where people constantly fake or exaggerate their lives on social media.”

Many of his followers, along with Breen, feel a similar way. While some comments mock him, the general audience responds with the same positivity Polcari puts out.

One series that Tony P. produces is his “vibrant masculinity” videos. Breen notes that among the prevalence of toxic masculinity online, it is rare to find “great examples for men to aspire to,” like Polcari, who expresses his belief that men can “embrace both traditional masculinity” to create “new avenues and passions.” 

“I think Tony P. provides an excellent example to people on how to be authentic while celebrating their life,” Breen said. “If you’ve never heard of him or if you don’t like him, then you’re missing out.”

Contact features writer Juliet Zucker at juliet.zucker@richmond.edu

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