Viral campaign video created by Norfolk State Univ. students is drippin’ in ‘Finesse’


NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — “We took those things that make a Spartan and put it into a video.”

That’s what Norfolk State University student and SGA President Astra Armstrong had to say about a campaign video that’s been trending on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Armstrong and SGA Vice President Zipporah Gatling created the video during their run for student government positions and modeled it after the song “Finesse” by Bruno Mars.

It’s generated massive attention on social media for its energy, creativity, and Spartan spirit!


Gatling says that the video was all Armstrong’s idea, who initially wanted to remix “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song. But once Gatling introduced Armstrong to “Finesse”, it was a done deal.

Armstrong says she wanted to incorporate a 90’s theme into the video to exemplify HBCU culture and excellence.

“We really wanted to do a 90’s theme simply because around that time frame was when HBCUs and HBCU culture was really promoted, so that’s really where we wanted to take it,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong and Gatling say their intention was never to go viral, but to create the video for their campus community. But it’s created a ripple effect, influencing other HBCUs to create SGA campaign videos modeled after famous songs!

“It’s still kind of like, surreal. We didn’t expect it or want it to get all of this traction. It’s humbling to have NSU be shown in a positive light,” Gatling said. “For this to get so much traction and for other HBCUs to be making videos like ours for their SGA campaigns and to see how we’ve been able to influence the HBCU community is awe-inspiring and extremely humbling.”

We love these campign videos! Anthony Kenney wants to be Student Goverent Association President!#CaptivatingTheYARD @beauxtieswag #HBCU #southernuniversity

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Armstrong and Gatling attribute much of the campaign’s success to their dynamic team.

Everett Johnson, who directed the video, said he had many ideas on how to make the video stand out.

“We had different concepts at first, but as we shot it, we changed the angles, we changed the viewings and I just had fun,” Johnson said. “To be able to showcase my talents and be there for them (Astra and Zipporah), I’m just happy that it actually went viral and represented Norfolk State well.”

Robert Garris, an NSU student who choreographed certain parts of the video, says he was excited when Armstrong and Gatling reached out to him. He also highlights how their reputations on campus set the tone for the video’s success.

“It’s always a good feeling when they know your talents and know your passion and know that I can do it and execute it well,” Garris said. “The video was beautiful, but it wasn’t just the video. It was their (Armstrong and Gatling) personalities and their hard work and determination. They have a lot of roles on this campus so that just added to it.”

Gatling and Garris are both a part of the NSU Theatre Company, where they recruited most of the dancers for the video.

Norfolk State University students took part in helping put together a video for Astra Armstrong’s and Zipporah Gatling’s SGA campaign. Many of these students are also part of the NSU Theatre Company.

Astra Armstrong

Campaign Managers Darrell Simms and Keith Dixon played significant roles in making sure the campaign was successful as a whole.

“On Election Day, we were going door to door asking students if they voted. We knew they (Zipporah and Astra) had busy schedules, so if it’s somewhere they couldn’t be, we were there,” Simms said. “It was great for us to be a part of something like this. Seeing [Astra’s] vision, and her allowing us to hop on board and be able to help where we could, was great to be a part of overall.”

Armstrong and Gatling both wanted this video to make a difference in a unique and inspirational way on campus.

“If you’re passionate about your campaign, you will be passionate about your time serving as president,” Armstrong says. “[This video] showed students to step out of their comfort zone. Just bring you to NSU. Put you in your campaign.”

So, do these students plan on making more videos in the future?

“Most definitely!” Gatling said. “But we can’t divulge what is next.”

Guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.

© 2018 WVEC

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