Nia Long - SAG-AFTRA
Nia Long – SAG-AFTRA

Nia Long has joined the growing cast of Justin Simien’s “Dear White People,” which is heading to Netflix for what will be a 10-episode comedy series the filmmaker will both write and direct (the series premiere).

Long has signed up to play Neika Hobbs, who is described as an African American studies professor at Winchester University with a whip-smart intellect and unflappable confidence, whose pulled-together professional life contrasts a more complicated personal one.

Ms. Long, who recently booked the co-lead along with Idina Menzel in Lifetime’s upcoming television adaptation of the 1988 film “Beaches,” joins a “Dear White People” cast that also includes Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori, Marque Richardson and Ashley Blaine Featherson, as well as stars Brandon P. Bell and Logan Browning.

Brandon P. Bell (who co-starred in the original film) and Logan Browning will lead 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.

Lionsgate Television, who co-released the film 2 years ago, is backing the Netflix series 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, are doing the same for the series, along with Yvette Lee Bowser.

Long was last seen on the small screen in the ABC summer series she co-starred in, “Uncle Buck,” which was canceled; and on the big screen in the Key & Peele comedy, “Keanu.”