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Spotlight & shout-out | Character in upcoming Lifetime Christmas movie sports NSU gear

A movie releasing in December puts a special spotlight on a historically Black university in Hampton Roads.

NORFOLK, Va. — "Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas" on Lifetime stars a main character, who wears Norfolk State University (NSU) gear during most of the film. 

Longtime casting director turned executive producer Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd told 13News Now visibility and representation means everything to her.

"I like to incorporate and infuse representation of HBCUs in every project. In the last film, it was Spelman [College] and in this film, it was NSU, Norfolk State. I met them through the Nate Parker Foundation and being a mentor there," said Byrd.

Byrd infused NSU in "Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas." 

"It's an amazing cast, and I've got Kirk Franklin. The music is off-the-charts amazing. I'm really blessed all around," she said.

The plot follows a mother-daughter duo with a rocky relationship. The two get caught in a snowstorm, then end up seeking refuge at a church.

In the movie, the mom is an NSU alum, and the teenager sports a Norfolk State Spartans hoodie.

"Oh, wow," said NSU student Logan Hitchman, when shown a trailer for the movie.

"Norfolk State, good gear, good gear," said NSU student-athlete Dominic Joseph. "That's dope, that's dope. I like that. I like that."

The students said the Lifetime film is setting their school up for international recognition.

"That is very important, especially going to an HBCU and for the Black community as a whole. To show something like that on TV, it's very important nowadays, especially with my generation," Hitchman said. 

Byrd attended an HBCU herself, North Carolina Central University. She said she wants to play a part in shaping the next generation of artists, while also inspiring viewers.

"The representation of higher education, for Black college students, for people who look like you — that it's attainable, it's a part of the storyline. You're proud, so the pride comes in if you attended that school or any HBCU. I love that. I think it's important."

"Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas" premieres Saturday, December 10 at 8/7C on Lifetime.

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