First announced in May, Justin Simien is bringing his feature film debut, “Dear White People” to the small screen (Netflix), for what will be a 10-episode comedy series he will both write and direct (the series premiere).
It makes sense! I’ve always felt and said that the film would work very well in a serial format, and I’m pleased to see that it will indeed happen; and thankfully, with Simien behind it and for Netflix, which is even better! It should hopefully mean even more freedom for the filmmaker to create.
Announced today, Brandon P. Bell (who co-starred in the original film) and Logan Browning (“Powers,” “Hit The Floor”) have both been cast in the upcoming series. Bell will reprise his role, playing Troy Fairbanks who is campaigning to become Winchester University’s first black student president. Browning will meanwhile play the role originated by Tessa Thompson in the film – Samantha White, a biracial film major at the fictional Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school, whose radio show “Dear White People” lands her a spot in a campus political movement. Several black student groups want her as their spokesperson, but Sam is still learning to speak for herself.
Each episode will be 30-minutes long.
Lionsgate Television, who co-released the film 2 years ago, is backing the project which will follow a similar narrative as the film, based on Simien’s own experiences at a predominately white university. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in so-called ‘post-racial’ America, while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.
Stephanie Allain and Julia Lebedev, who both served as executive producers of the original film will do the same for the series, along with Yvette Lee Bowser.
“During the film’s release, I had the pleasure to speak with hundreds of students and faculty across a variety of college campuses dealing with these very issues in real time,” Simien said in a previous statement. “I’m so grateful to have this platform — not only to give a voice to those too often unheard in our culture, but to also tell great stories from new points of views. From Day 1, Lionsgate has been remarkably supportive of the vision for the show, and working with Netflix is every bit as harmonious as I’d imagined it would be. Bringing this show to such a vibrant platform is an honor I don’t take lightly.”
“We’re proud to expand our partnership with our friends at Netflix on a comedy that tackles racial themes with a combination of intelligence, honesty, irreverence and wit,” Lionsgate TV exec vp Chris Selak said. “Our original film with Roadside Attractions catapulted ‘Dear White People’ into the national conversation about race, and Justin and the rest of the creative team have an opportunity to expand this world and bring its timely and universal themes to a global television audience.”