By Aswad Walker
The 2014 sleeper hit Dear White People has given birth to a spin-off of sorts on Netflix. Both the original movie and the current Netflix comedy series are the creations of Houston native Justin Simien.
Though Simien was not able to secure the entire cast from the film, several original cast members are part of the TV series which seeks to explore deeper many of the character stories that the full-length feature film was not able to cover.
A lot of what Simien used in his film and now TV series came from tests he did on Twitter to see how people would react to the phrase “Dear White People.”
“I used a lot of the responses from Twitter, positive and negative, and put them right into the film and right into the show,” said Simien during an interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “All the plots stuff is me, but the way people react to Sam (the main character of Dear White People) and react to her messaging and her brand, I got a lot of that from direct experience. I mean even now with all the online trolls and the comments, for me as a storyteller I’m just sitting there researching and reading and filing this away because that reaction is part of the conversation I want to have, like ‘Why the knee-jerk reaction to this title?’ I mean, let’s get into it.”
Simien added that though some have been offended by the title, no one who has actually watched it has felt that way because the show provides stories told from everyone’s point of view, by design. Black reaction to the show has been mostly positive, though some have claimed it is not as “woke” and progressive as advertised.
Still, the show dives in unashamedly on every imaginable issue and situation inherent in today’s Black reality.
Set on the fictitious, predominantly white Ivy League campus of Winchester University, the show follows a group of Black students trying to discover who they are in life in the midst of an environment dominated by people who simply do not get them.
The cast includes Logan Browning (Sam), Brandon P. Bell (Troy), Antoinette Robertson (Coco), DeRon Horton (Lionel), John Patrick Amedori (Gabe), Ashley Blaine Featherson (Joelle), Marque Richardson (Reggie) and more.