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Netflix’s ‘Dear White People’ Creator Talks Picking Up Where the Film Left Off

Variety logo Variety 4/28/2017 Arya Roshanian
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The cast and creative team of Netflix’s “Dear White People” turned out Thursday evening for the series’ premiere at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles. Creator/executive producerJustin Simien, director Barry Jenkins, and star Logan Browning were just a fraction of the stars who graced the red carpet.

Set within the posh, white-washed Winchester University, “Dear White People” explores racism — both systemic and overt — that takes place at the fictional Ivy League college, while also discussing identity politics and intersectionality. Based on the 2014 film of the same name, the show picks up right where the movie left off. According to Simien, there was “so much more to say and write” for the beloved characters.

“There was a lot of ‘Oh, I wish I had touched upon that!’ or wishing gone deeper into some plot lines after the movie wrapped,” Simien stated. “The series speaks to this time in a unique way. We were in a transitional period when the film came out — I feel like 21st-century activism was just beginning to reach a viral peak — and we needed to talk about that.”

Though Winchester University may be fictional, the themes and issues dealt with on “Dear White People” are very real. Browning, who portrays witty, headstrong Samantha White, believes the series will speak to black audiences in an effective, yet personal way.

“Right now there is this big ebb of the black experience and what that means,” said Browning. “The whole season satirizes real life and current events, and that’s what makes it so relatable. You have the college experience and then you have the young black experience, which is broadcasted all throughout media right now.”

The series has added many new faces to the “Dear White People” roster, but to those involved with the original film, getting a chance to revisit Winchester University and tell more stories is a “dream come true,” especially for Simien. He noted: “I don’t know that I expect my dreams to come true, but it’s a trip when they do.”

“Dear White People” is now streaming on Netflix worldwide.

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