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).
Announced today, Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori and Ashley Blaine Featherson have joined the previously-cast Brandon P. Bell and Logan Browning as regulars in the half-hour comedy series. Also Marque Richardson joins as recurring, reprising his role from the 2014 film.
Per the Netflix release…
— Robertson will play Coco Conners, an economics major and bombshell who is baffled by Winchester’s hierarchy of blackness that favors natural hair over the “good hair” she bought. Unfazed by the blackface party, Coco deplores Samantha White’s “entry level black rage” and her “self-serving” Dear White People radio show.
— Horton is Lionel Higgins, a self-proclaimed nerd, who becomes an unlikely hero for being the only student journalist to write a firsthand report on the blackface party that rocks Winchester. Despite this early victory, Lionel — who is still coming to terms with his sexuality — discovers that navigating between the disparate black and gay cultures on campus is his most arduous challenge yet.
— Amedori will portray Gabe, Sam’s intellectual equal and their debates are passionate and as heated as their secret (for now) affair. Gabe genuinely loves Sam and wants their relationship to go to the next level, but feels pushed aside in the groundswell of Sam’s racially political movement.
— Featherson is Joelle Brooks, a girl who can code switch at lightning speed and is Sam White’s best friend. While smart, funny and charming, Joelle prefers to orbit Sam’s bright star instead of shining on her own, but soon starts to covet Sam’s life.
— And Richardson will reprise the role of Reggie, the character he portrayed in the 2014 feature. Reggie Green is a computer science major and Sam’s right hand man. He’s one of the more radical voices at Winchester thanks in no small part to his having been raised by a Black Panther. Often underestimated by the campus at large, Reggie uses his hyper intellect and tech smarts to make a real difference on campus as he strives to live up to the expectations of his parents.
Brandon P. Bell (who co-starred in the original film) and Logan Browning will star 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.
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.