FYIG recently had the chance to chat with Mr. World Canada 2012 and Miss World host Frankie Cena. Find out more about this diverse entertainer right here!
Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
My name is Frankie Cena. I’m 26 years old and from Vancouver, Canada. I’m a singer and a TV host, and I own my own speech and debate school in Vancouver—which employs my sister, my mother and my grandmother. I love reality television. I’m very competitive. And I love board games.
You started your entertainment career in the BC Boys Choir. What did you learn from your time in that choir and how was your experience?
My time with the choir was fundamental and foundational. The choir truly taught me how to be a man. It gave me my first chance to sleep away from home, my first chance to leave the country, and even my first chance to board a plane. I learned how to convince people to tie a tie for me and how to fold my own dress pants so that they were always ready for the next performance. But far more importantly, the choir taught me to find my voice as a singer and a speaker and to find confidence in myself. I highly recommend this organization—or anything like it around the world—to anyone looking to enroll his or her son in an extracurricular.
You even got to perform for the Queen of England at her 50th Jubilee! What was that like?
I did indeed get to perform for the Queen of England—and oh my gosh, what a good icebreaker when I walk into a room. I think I’ve used that fact about 500 times at parties or events. I was very young, but it was wonderfully fun and exciting, singing just a few feet from the Queen! A tremendous experience.
You went on to audition for several shows like Canadian Idol, X-Factor, and Glee. How did going through those selection processes help you in your career?
Going to those audition processes was really eye-opening—because, unfortunately, I didn’t really get too far. For Canadian Idol, I made it through the producers and on to the TV round, where I was eliminated by the judges. For X Factor UK, I’ve had many producer auditions but have yet to sing for Simon Cowell. And for Glee, I got to meet Robert Ulrich, the casting director for the show, but again was not chosen for the series. But through those rejections I learned to be humble, I learned to take feedback, and I learned that I’m going to face a lot of rejection in this entertainment career—but it’s how I bounce back and move forward from those rejections to find my next great experience that matters most.
In 2012, you became Mr. World Canada. How did it feel to represent your country in such a prestigious way?
It meant so much, and even more when competing against such amazing men from around the world. Becoming Mr. World Canada is, actually, a great example of the bounce backs from rejection, that I spoke of earlier. At the time, I was looking for something to advance my entertainment career, and a very good friend of mine asked if I wanted to enter. I thought: “This is definitely not for me, but I might as well give it a try.” But I was chosen, and it ended up being one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I faced a lot of public rejection and discrimination, during the competition. I was told by the fans that I was too short to be there, that I was too feminine, that I didn’t fit in with the other guys. But I realized that every road to success is filled with haters—and that I had to bat them aside. I think it made my skin far thicker, and that helped me sing my way to the Mr. World Talent title, and place in the top 10 overall.
You were the only Canadian featured in American Eagle’s 2013 Back to School campaign. Was it weird to see your pictures in stores all over the world?
Totally—I pinched myself throughout every step of the process. I had applied two or three times before that, and when I was finally chosen, I found out I was the only Canadian among 19 Americans to be there. They flew us out to New York, we stayed in a nice hotel, I got to meet some incredible people. And getting to see myself in stores was something I never imagined to be possible—as a 5-foot, 6-inch entertainer. Fully a dream come true.
After passing on your title, you became co-host and web-presenter for Miss World 2014. How did that opportunity come about?
I never expected to work for the Miss World organization. Once Mr. World finished I thought that would be the last they’d want to see of me—but I learned that leaving impressions can be enormously powerful, and can lead you to amazing places. It was because I left an impression on the Miss World organization at Mr. World, that, one and a half years later, while was getting ready for bed, I got a call from Miss World Chairwoman Mrs. Julia Morley—asking me if I’d like to work on Mr. World 2014. So I flew out to England, co-hosted with a huge celebrity in the Philippines, and was later asked to come back for Miss World. I’ve been working with the organization since then, and I’ll be back this fall—heading to China for Miss World 2018.
You’re going to host Miss World 2018 this fall. What can viewers expect from this year’s competition?
I can’t say too much about the competition, other than that this is an organization that grows with the times. We stopped having the swimsuit portion of the competition because we didn’t feel that it was in line with modern values. In 2017 we also introduced the Head to Head Challenge, and I know that this year the Head to Head Challenge is going to be bigger and better—and I cannot wait to be a part of this amazing competition again.
You founded the Fostering Debate Talent Academy. What prompted you to start this academy? What can someone expect when attending the FDT Academy?
Starting FDT was a complete accident—something that I fell into, without quite realizing it. I did public speaking and debate as a teenager. Once I graduated I wanted to give back to my old high school, so I would commute from university back to the school, once a week, and work with the kids there. And I did that for 5 years. And in those 5 years, my students reached ultimate heights, winning regional, provincial, national, and international titles. From that, I was getting a lot of requests to coach and it became a part-time job that helped me get through university. But the requests kept piling up. And I didn’t really consider it as a career until my Aunt Rosa said: “Look—you have something very special here. You need to pursue it, and you need to see what can come from it.” And that was probably some of the best advice I’d ever received in my life because it was from it that I decided to really invest in my debate career, and create FDT.
When someone attends FDT they can expect a completely personalized, one-on-one experience. The manner in which I’ve taught debate is one where every child and every person is unique—with unique strengths and weaknesses, unique wants and needs. And therefore we tailor our programming to each of those demands, to really give them whatever they want from our academy. They learn confidence, they learn public speaking skills, they learn the ability to argue coherently, and many of them go on to become world champions, or attend Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford. So I think that FDT is an exceptionally enriching place to be.
Your motto is “Find Your Voice: It Matters”. Tell us a little bit about why those words are so important to you?
Those words reflect upon the thing that’s most important in my life—my voice. I use my voice for advocacy, I use it to tell stories, I use it to teach, I use it to sing. And while “Find Your Voice: It Matters” could be interpreted differently by different people, it always ultimately means the same thing: finding out what’s important to you and speaking to the world about it.
What would you say to someone who is having trouble finding their own voice?
My advice to them would be to try to reflect on what’s important to them. What is the thing that you care about most? What is the thing that makes you forget to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom? Maybe it’s basketball, maybe it’s video games, maybe it’s a cause, maybe it’s an element of your identity. Our bodies and our minds are so incredibly powerful: they push us and they guide us towards certain things. Follow those signals—because that’s probably what’s important to you. That’s probably what your voice wants to say.
What advice would you give to aspiring entertainers?
I would tell them: Never give up. Grow a thick skin. And be ready to face rejection. If you’re someone that expects to be told “Yes” all the time, then you’re not set out for entertainment, because this career is, unfortunately, filled with a lot of “No”’s. So be perseverant, and believe in yourself enough that no number of “No”’s will derail you.
Tell the readers where to find you online.
The readers can find me all over the internet!
My Facebook page – Facebook.com/FrankieCena
My Instagram – Instagram.com/FrankieCena
My website – FrankieCena.com
And my YouTube, – YouTube.com/frankster83