Dear White People,
Justin Simien’s hit Sundance film about race relations on a predominantly white
Ivy League-type campus, gets expanded into a 10-episode series for Netflix.
Making its debut on Friday, April 28, the TV adaptation tells
the story of racial tension largely through the perspectives of Samantha
White (Logan Browning), a biracial student who uses her radio show to dress
down white students who appropriate black culture; Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P.
Bell), the dean’s son who is held up to a higher standard; Lionel Higgins
(DeRon Horton), a freshman reporter coming to terms with his sexuality; and
Coco Conners (Antoinette Robertson), a scholarship student who seeks a higher
The film, which first debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film
Festival, was a sharp-tongued take on what many thought of as a post-racial
America following the election of President Barack Obama. Picking up where the
events -- culminating with a blackface Halloween party -- of the film left off, the
TV series expands that conversation in an era of President Donald Trump,
accusations surrounding Bill Cosby and the Black Lives Matter movement.
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“It felt more satisfying to continue rather than reboot,” he
says, comparing it to superhero film franchises. “One thing I hate about
superhero reboots is that we have to get the origin [story] all over again. It’s
like, ‘We got it.’ I wasn’t interested in that as a storyteller. I just wanted
to keep going.”
But for all the real-world issues surrounding the series, at
its core, Simien says, Dear White People
is really about what it feels like to be a black face in a white place.
“That’s always been my black experience. I’ve never had the luxury of being surrounded by black people,” he tells ET, refuting any direct comparison to A Different World, the spinoff of The Cosby Show about students attending a historically black college. While A Different World writer and producer Yvette Lee Bowser -- she also created Living Single -- serves as showrunner on Dear White People, that’s where any similarities stop.