When Justin Simien’s hit feature film Dear White People came out in 2014, it immediately struck a chord with some groups — and a nerve with others. With a name that raised and furrowed a couple of eyebrows, Dear White People skewered identity politics in heightened reality set in the fictitious Ivy League institution of higher learning known as Winchester University.
The film put race in a different light, combining comedy, satire, drama and collegiate fare that made for a narrative of intersectional identity that garnered rave reviews as a film — and again as a Netflix series.
When Simien came by Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast, he not only shared his Hollywood journey with us but also dropped some serious knowledge about the history of race and identity, and how it inspires his show and affects real life. Still, he says the Lionsgate TV series isn’t just about race. Simien points out that it’s about “American issues that we have been dealing with since the 1800s” and how we will continue to deal with it.
Of course, we had to talk about Kanye West’s recent “free-thinking” remarks about slavery, and Simien also shared with us his fantasy of a Dear White People crossover with a popular “magical” franchise. He also gave a special shout-out to up-and-coming filmmakers and creators including Tiffany Johnson, who directed the short Ladylike; Gente-fied‘s Marvin Lemus; as well as The Chi writer Dime Davis.
Listen to the episode below.