Going viral is often the defining moment in one’s career. Billions of videos are posted on Facebook and YouTube every day in the quest to reach the satisfaction of going viral. But on Monday, April 4, 2016, a video was uploaded on Facebook from a Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) student that reached the prestigious status of “viral.” So exactly who is this student?
Meet Anthony Nguyen, a fourth-year accounting student whose first idea for a video was, as he stated, “Let’s make fun of shuffle kids.” Nguyen began making videos in 2010 and only posted videos every three months. The first of his videos would gain around 5,000 views but gained him only 50 subscribers. “We were just making it for fun,” Nguyen said. It was not until the summer of 2011 when Nguyen began to get serious about creating content.
Nguyen is no stranger to the creative process, who describes it as “seeing what you see in real life and making fun of that and exaggerating it.” This Shakespearean method of exaggerating the real world would ultimately result in a YouTube channel with more than 88,000 subscribers. That YouTube channel is The Crazy Gorilla.
Behind every great play is a great stage. What better way to showcase his videos than with the video sharing mecca that is YouTube? Nguyen’s channel, The Crazy Gorilla, has recently gained massive success on YouTube. The name of the channel came from Nguyen’s first video which he describes as “just stupid kids making a stupid video.” In the video, Nguyen’s friend was clad in a gorilla suit and acting crazy. “It just stuck after that,” said Nguyen with a smile. Little did Nguyen know that the name would later be known by millions.
Nguyen’s channel has yielded more than one viral video. Remember Hotline Bling Without Music? That was Nguyen. The video would later go on to be posted by giant names such as Paper Magazine and Ashton Kutcher‘s website. Most people would let all this mass media attention get to their heads, but not Nguyen. Nguyen is as great a person as he is a creator and lends his skills to CPP’s Associated Students Incorporated (ASI).
Within ASI, Nguyen works as a multimedia developer for the department of Marketing, Design and Public Relations (MDPR). “For my job at ASI, you have to create content people would want to watch. If it’s a boring video, people will not want to watch, just like YouTube,” said Nguyen. Nguyen has helped with ASI videos such as Hollywood Madness 2016 and Rec Fest 2016.
However, no idea was more massive or original than Nguyen’s recent viral hit, which features a well known orange monster.
On Monday, April 4, 2016 the video Trump in Mean Girls was shared on The Crazy Gorilla’s Facebook page. “With all this political stuff going on, we knew we had to make a political story… but we didn’t want to get into this political mess; the majority of people don’t like Donald Trump,” said Nguyen with a determined tone. However, the initial video went through some changes. The original idea was to have Trump’s face over the Joker’s face in the interrogation scene of The Dark Night, but this somehow evolved into Mean Girls. Nguyen was very direct when mentioning, “We wanted to keep it as least political as we could.” The true mark of viral victory was when comments on the video began to read, “I support Donald Trump, but this video is hilarious.”
“That’s how we knew we did it right,” said Nguyen proudly. Everyone loved the video. However, reaching the viral level was not easy.
The video was published on YouTube on April 3 but it gained only a few thousand views. On April 4, Nguyen posted the video on Facebook where it gained about half a million views. Nguyen bet they could reach somewhere around 700,000 by the next day. By the next morning, Nguyen woke up to 2.3 million views on Facebook. The video would eventually reach a view rate 870 times bigger than the entire student population of CPP.
For Nguyen, coming up with ideas and brainstorming is the most challenging part. “Sometimes we [Nguyen and his partner-in-crime, Ramon Guzman] brainstorm for about four hours and won’t think of anything. Then there are other times we brainstorm for 10 minutes and come up with something,” said Nguyen.
His strongest motivation comes from his subscribers and building his brand. “I’m never going to stop until I achieve what I set out to achieve,” said Nguyen. And 30 years from now, he wants to look back and say, “I created this EMPIRE.” And of course, the people Nguyen met during his time at CPP have also inspired him. “I’ve met people who help me, like my co-workers Stavro and Gilbert. I’ve met people like Austin and CJ who have helped me with editing videos,” said Nguyen.
With all this success put aside, one question warrants mention: who is Anthony?
Outside of YouTube, Nguyen leads a normal life, one that resembles the American dream. He spends time with his girlfriend, his favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happyness, his favorite shows include The Walking Dead and Prison Break, and he enjoys continuing to learn new editing tricks to better his material. In his free time, he watches videos. His favorite YouTube videos are comedy skits and surprisingly, DIYs. One of his favorites is Great Scott. “I love watching someone create something from random raw materials,” said Nguyen.
From his own videos he’s created with his partner, Nguyen’s favorite is There’s Nothing to Fix, which surprisingly isn’t a comedy skit. This break from their usual comedic material not only shows diversity in Nguyen’s work, but also stars Nguyen himself. After half a million views on Facebook, Nguyen knew he had a ringer. Be sure to keep a lookout for more serious material on his YouTube channel. “I really, really, really, really want to do another serious one,” said Nguyen.
In 30 years, Nguyen assures that he will still be saying thank you to all his friends and family who’ve helped him. “Without them, my videos would never get out,” said Nguyen. His advice to those wishing to follow in the footsteps of YouTube greatness is simple: “No excuses.” Nguyen started filming with an iPhone 4,but today he has reached the level of viral fame anyone would be happy with.
Anthony’s closing remark was one only a YouTuber would say: “Subscribe for a new video every Sunday.” Anthony Nguyen: a friend, Youtuber, co-worker, creator and best of all, a Bronco.