When one biology professor at Morehouse College asked students to submit an extra credit project, Julien Turner produced a video that unexpectedly sent the internet into a frenzy.
“She gave us a rubric. She said it can be over any topic we covered as long as it was a visual piece,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
That’s the only instruction he needed.
Inspired by Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3,” the 19-year-old from Ohio created a music video about cell mitosis called “XY Cell Life” for the “Biological Science For Non-Majors” course.
While the original lyrics are “Push me to the edge/ All my friends are dead,” he remixed them to “If my genes go left unread/ All my cells are dead.”
He posted his creation to his Twitter page Thursday, and it quickly went viral. As of Friday evening, it had been retweeted more than 81,000 times and liked more than 174,000 times.
In fact, the assignment reached the web before his professor, Dwann Davenport, could even lay eyes on it.
“I turned it in Wednesday, but she didn’t see it until this morning,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy, because she told me her friend called her last night even before she checked her email. Someone told her about it before me.”
His professor was super impressed, too. “She said, ‘it was really good,’” he shared.
Making videos isn’t new for the sophomore, marketing major, however. He began a production company with his 15-year-old brother six years ago called Dreaded Films.
While his sibling is the cameraman, he’s the writer. And together, they’ve been churning out movies that have received praise from the Urban Media Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival, according to their site.
“It’s funny though, because this happens to be the least reflective of what we do,” he laughed.
But he knew his skills would help him develop a great project. Using the campus’ library and his dorm building as the set, he wrote, recorded and edited the three-minute-long clip all in one day with the help of a friend from Clark Atlanta University and his football teammate.
“I didn’t expect it to blow up,” he admitted.
But now that it has, he’ll be adding another project to his reel and receiving a half-letter boost to his overall grade.
“I think I’m standing at an A,” he said. “But I can use this as a cushion should the next test not go my way.”