French hand-picked Randall, one of adult’s most sought-after erotic photographer/directors who is also the host of the hit podcast, Holly Randall Unfiltered, for the intimate interview about how she went from camming to co-founding one of the fastest growing platforms in adult entertainment.
Decked out in a custom-made white MV tracksuit, the passionate native of Montreal recounted her improbable path “From the Bedroom to the Boardroom” in a rousing interview with Randall in front of a standing-room audience at Festival Hall inside the Paradise Tower of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Even though ManyVids started in 2014, when French was still camming, she did not divulge her chief executive role with the company until May 2018, when ManyVids unveiled its documentary #WeAreMany. The 40-minute production about the rapid rise of MV and the unifying philosophy behind the platform, is nominated for a 2019 AVN Award for Best Marketing Campaign-Individual Project.
French said she realized that if she became the face of MV at the beginning that it would take the focus away from her beloved MV Stars, which was the last thing she wanted to do. So she sat back, comfortable staying behind the scenes while she and her two partners—Sed, who is her boyfriend and COO, and his childhood friend, Gino, the CTO—built the business at a rapid pace.
The threesome launched MV in Sed’s mom’s basement, but French said it took only six months for the platform to become profitable. Today MV employs a team of more than 100 with plans to double that number in the next two years.
“For the first three-and-a-half years that I was behind the scenes I was not active on social media at all,” French told Randall. “It was just work, work, work and what can we do to help our MV Stars and the business?”
That even meant literally taking out the garbage for the first two years, French confessed.
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” French said. “I don’t care about titles at all. We’re just human beings connecting.”
Then the #WeAreMany doc turned into a game-changer for everyone; once they began gathering the footage and saw what they were getting it took on a life of its own.
“I always felt like sex workers are so smart and beautiful but we rarely hear them,” French explained. “We see them perform; we see them do great videos. But when do you really get to know the person behind the sex worker? … The more and more we were filming, the more and more we were like, ‘Whoa, we need to show these people.’ We need to show who these people are and how important sex workers are to society.”
French said the project humanized the MV Stars. “Sex work is only one aspect of this human being,” she said.
Randall, a 20-year veteran of adult whose legendary mother—photographer Suze Randall—also spent decades shooting porn’s biggest stars, asked French about the challenges of being a woman CEO in a male-dominated industry.
“It’s still hard to be taken seriously,” French admitted. “I’m just very lucky I’m surrounded with two co-founders who are super OK with having a woman as CEO. I feel very supported within my team.
“But when I go to events like here or to other places, they’re usually looking for, ‘Where’s the guy? How can I get to talk to the guy? I’m like, ‘No, no, no. I take the decisions. You’re talking to the right person.’
“They’re like OK. It’s really hard to believe. It’s still something—obviously our lawyers and our bankers know who is the CEO and they treat me with a lot of respect—but any time I go somewhere where people are not really sure I always have to explain.
“But it’s like I just stay calm and relax—just do your thing. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
French continued, “And yes, I see a shift. I see that there’s more women taking control, which I think is amazing. At ManyVids, half of the company are women. I love to surround myself with women. When I hire a woman in a high position I’m a little bit happier—not because it’s a woman but because I know she was the most qualified. And I really, really like that.”
Randall asked French if she had advice for anyone just starting out in adult. French responded that it is important to “take your time with everything.”
She remembers first hand being bombarded with offers for websites, boy/girl sex scenes, anal sex and other big steps before she was anywhere near ready to do it. Instead, she remained patient.
“I really took my time and I think that was the best thing to do,” French said. “I did my first boy/girl with my boyfriend two-and-a-half years after I started and my first anal video three-and-a-half years after.”
French also emphasized how important it is to “surround yourself with amazing people that really care about you.”
“And it can just be one person,” she said.
French said she rarely doesn’t have MV on her mind, but when she’s not “working” she meditates a lot and focuses on self-improvement.
“I don’t know why i’m here or what’s up with the universe,” French told Randall. “I just try to be a better person every day.”
For more on French’s path to MV, click here.
Written by:Bella French Holly Randall