Justin Simien Interview: ‘Dear White People’ creator
Movies, books and TV shows about Black experiences in America have had a surge of interest in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police. That includes the Netflix satire “Dear White People,” which follows a community of Black students attending a fictional, predominantly white Ivy League university. But that renewed attention brings up “a complicated mix of emotions” for creator and co-showrunner Justin Simien. Watch our exclusive video interview with him above.
“To feel like I poured my heart, my time, my passion and my blood, sweat and tears into something that is meeting the cultural moment is validating,” Simien explains. “On the other hand, there’s a sadness that what we’ve been talking about, really since 2014 with the film and 2016 with the show specifically, unfortunately is an evergreen topic … So I’m proud that people are seeing that, but it’s also frustrating that it takes so long to get people’s attention.”
Season three of “Dear White People” premiered in August 2019, and it loosened its format to explore the intersecting lives of even more of the student body instead of laser-focusing on one character’s story in each episode as the show had done before. Might the show be further transformed in its upcoming fourth and final season as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?
“It’s actually just reinforced where we were going,” Simien reveals. “We actually finished writing the season before the Black Lives Matter-led protests over George Floyd’s murder really swept the globe … yet in so many ways this season really comments on the moment we are in right now … I’m really proud that again we’ve written something that I think will meet the cultural moment whenever we’re able to get out of lockdown and shoot the thing.”