EXCLUSIVE: Dear White People creator Justin Simien is getting into business with Paramount Television Studios. The multi-hyphenate director, writer and producer has signed a three-year overall deal with the studio. Under the pact, he’ll develop premium television series aimed at various platforms via his Culture Machine production company.
“During Dear White People’s incredible four season run, it’s been an honor to facilitate bold-by-design, inclusive-by-default storytelling that pushes for better, more nuanced representation on screen as well as in the writers room, the director’s chair and across all departments,”said Simien. “Backed by an enthusiastic dream team at Paramount Television Studios, I’m thrilled to have the resources to apply my passion for identifying and developing the stars, storytellers and artists of tomorrow on an exponentially larger scale. As our industry grapples to attract an evolving, increasingly diverse consumer base, Culture Machine is poised and dedicated to meet that demand.”
Aaliyah Jihad, who joined Culture Machine in 2019, will serve as Creative Executive.
Simien has had successes across multiple genres and release platforms, including his first film Dear White People which was later adapted into the popular Netflix series whose fourth and final season airs this fall. Last October his second feature film, the psychological thriller/satire Bad Hair, starring Vanessa Williams, Laverne Cox and newcomer Elle Lorraine was acquired out of Sundance with a seven-figure deal and released via Hulu. Simien is set to make his big-budget studio film debut later this year, directing the fantasy horror comedy, Haunted Mansion for Disney. Simien can be seen as a guest judge on the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, now streaming on Paramount+.
Says Nicole Clemens, president Paramount Television Studios and Paramount+ Original Scripted Series, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Justin and his wonderful team at Culture Machine into the PTVS family. Justin is a singular talent whose work consistently pushes the boundaries of storytelling and sparks necessary conversations both on-screen and off. We’ve long been fans of his and we’re looking forward to championing more of the cutting edge and essential stories that his name has become synonymous with.”
Simien is repped by CAA, Grandview and Del Shaw Moonves.