Justin Simien: ‘Dear White People’ Was Born From Wanting to See Myself in the Culture

Dear White People, Justin Simien

Writer-director Justin Simien wasn’t sure if his 2014 film, Dear White People, would ever hit the screen, but after a conversation with friend Lena Waithe he knew he had to find a way to get it done.

Simien started writing the script for the movie, which was eventually adapted into a Netflix series, in 2005, and was told by Waithe how much she loved the script.

“It is hard to try to get a movie made; I have no idea how to do that, ” he said. “I just clicked into this ‘by hook or by crook’ mindset. I have to get to this movie made, I have to do whatever it takes.”

Simien wanted to see people who shared his experience with Black culture on screen.

“Dear White People is about to always be a reaction to Whiteness. I always felt like I was having to defend Blackness to my Black friends and defend my place in the culture to my White friends,” the award-winning writer and director said. “It grew out of an urge to see myself in the culture. I was looking at the Black content at the time [2005], and I didn’t myself in any of it. As a person who’s always wanted to make movies, I was like, ‘What am I doing if I am not putting my story and my sensibilities out there?'”

The second season of Dear White People is currently streaming on Netflix.

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