MANILA, Philippines - Anyone who hates math probably doesn’t know who Pietro Boselli is. He’s the 28-year-old Italian hunk who went from engineer and lecturer to becoming one of the most sought-after international models in just two years. It all started when a former student took a candid photo of him during one of his lectures in the University College London; the photo went viral in 2015. Since then, Pietro has been dubbed “The world’s hottest math professor.” With a degree in engineering and a PhD in philosophy under his belt, plus a killer face and a to-die-for body, it’s safe to say that Pietro has won the genetic lottery jackpot.
Today, in between shooting ad campaigns and promoting a healthy fitness lifestyle via his online channel, Pietro has teamed up with the Philippine’s leading clothing and lifestyle brand Bench. Much to the joy of Pietro’s local fans, the local retail giant flew him in to our shores last week to grace the first-ever Bench Fashion Week.
He also went with Bench CEO Ben Chan to Davao to plant trees, visit communities and distribute meals, schoolbags and supplies to schoolchildren. Ben and Pietro wore Bench T-shirts stating: "Education is my new muscle."
PHILIPPINE STAR: What’s your favorite math theory?
PIETRO BOSELLI: Most of my mathematics are in my engineering course. The purpose of mathematics in engineering is that you can apply it to achieve great things. So first of all, you model reality around you with mathematics and then use these models to predict things that are going to happen and design (accordingly). I specialize in tool mechanics. And tool mechanics requires a lot of calculus. That’s what I am teaching. That’s probably my favorite theory simply because you can achieve so many things with it.
If you could develop a theory to make a difference in this world, what would it be?
The whole point of academic research is the reason why many people pursue a degree — to advance the state of the knowledge — and that’s what we all start to do when we’re sitting there for hours and hours in our offices at the university. The knowledge that you’ve gained over the years — there are a lot of contributions from people, many of them are geniuses but unknown — some theories that have been discovered are more prone to be something like a narrative.
Have modeling and math ever collided?
Well, in my life, several times.
What kind of student were you back in college?
I was always a very good student in terms of hours and hours of studying. I wasn’t just happy to be a good student; I wanted to be the best. When I started college, I was studying in an international school so it was very competitive. As I said, I wanted to be the best. That’s why I worked so hard and I was super focused. Sometimes, I would check if my professors were right. But yes, I think it’s all down to the hard work.
Did you ever help your classmates with their lessons?
Yes. In the university, people who wanted to do well and would sit next to me. I was really happy to help. You can’t just be the ordinary guy in the room. You have to help other people.
You mentioned before that you want to break the stereotype about models. How about the stereotype that smart people are boring? How would you break that?
In this society, intelligence is a measure, but it doesn’t define someone. There are more things to (somebody), but because we can’t understand and we can’t relate it’s not easy to sympathize.
What made you decide to pursue engineering?
I remember when I was 16, in high school, I had this book of Albert Einstein, The Evolution of Physics. It made me think so much, sitting there for hours thinking about life. He explained the world’s mathematical formula. That’s when I decided to pursue academic studies and the decision to go for engineering and not pure mathematics because I always felt that math is a lot of creativity and this is what engineering is about, creating new things with mathematics and physics, which is cool when you’re going to create.
What’s your advice for those who are struggling with math?
Whenever I say that I teach mathematics or I studied engineering, the most common reaction is “Oh, I hate math.” It’s hard to say that you don’t like something when you don’t know it. The more you learn mathematics, the more you understand that you can actually really do so many things with it. Don’t be discouraged. Just try hard. Don’t prevent yourself from (reaching) your potential.
Do you think there are disadvantages to being too handsome?
I don’t know. It’s a very common thing to judge by appearances, and that’s not helping. You overlook things. At the beginning of my career, I kept it a secret that I was a model because I felt like people would look down to that. Only with maturity and growing up do you learn how to embrace that latter in life, and you will see that it is amazing to do two things that are so different. Sometimes it happens that people see me and they assume things.
Do you have haters or get hate mail?
No. I get a lot of positivity and I’m (too) busy to come across any hate. It’s always a humbling experience when you read the comments and you see so much positivity. I feel like, “Is this real?” I am very much a person of human interaction and when I read this kind of comment, after awhile, it almost loses its meaning until you meet your fans and they tell you that personally. They came all the way just to tell you and it means they really meant it. You can reach out to so many people nowadays and you can make a positive influence.
Your fans are predominantly male. What are the questions they usually ask you?
They ask me about my lifestyle. On Instagram, half the followers are female but on YouTube I started this fitness series, and 82 percent of my YouTube fans are actually male and they ask for tips and inspiration.
What is the geekiest thing about you?
I analyze everything around me. I always wonder.
If you were given a chance, would you like to try acting?
Yeah, sure. I would definitely consider it. I would like to play a superhero.
What is something you have yet to try while you’re in the Philippines?
I really love swimming, so I want to do some scuba diving; we’ll figure it out.
How did your family support and raise you? Did they instill a lot of math interest?
In my case, when I was a kid, I would really try so many things. My mom was always pushing us to study. When the photo went viral I was surprised. Slowly, I learned to handle it.
What qualities do you find attractive?
I really like it when people share and try to learn and understand things. I really find it hard to put up with superficiality. And kindness is the most important value of all.
What qualities do you find sexy?
I like a girl who is confident. I like natural beauty. Simplicity.
What’s your ideal date like?
I like someone who can surprise me. As I have said before, I have a habit to analyze everything and try to figure out what’s going to happen next. And oftentimes I’m proven right, and I don’t like that. Most people like to be proven right but sometimes you like to be proven wrong, which is difficult to understand. When you are proven wrong, like when a theory you believed in before is now being recomputed, you gain a higher level of knowledge. I was wrong before but I am right now, so who cares if I was wrong before?
Do you have any insecurities?
I don’t know, I have never been that confident about myself; there are still some things that could be better. I guess essentially there’s always something that drags you down but you have to be positive.
Beyond modeling, what else do you want people to know about you?
My Instagram. I like to keep things personal but I try to portray the real me in social media. I can see the beauty in small things, the happy things in those small moments.
Ideally, how do you want to be introduced? Obviously, “math teacher” — it’s a tag. That’s what pushes me harder. When people ask, “What do you do?” I hate that question so much. What you do doesn’t define who you are.
How did you say yes to working with Bench?
Well, obviously, I’ve had a lot of requests. But Bench had the best plan in the Philippines. And Ben Chan and the team have been the best hosts for me. It’s been great.