Netflix picks up “Dear White People” comedy from Justin Simien
Netflix will be the exclusive home of “Dear White People,” a comedy series based on writer/director/producer Justin Simien’s critically-acclaimed, Sundance award-winning satirical indie film.
The series will be produced by Lionsgate, whose sister company Roadside Attractions released the original film in 2014. The 10-episode, 30-minute series will go into production later this year and will premiere on Netflix around the world in 2017.
Set among a diverse group of students of color as they navigate a predominantly white Ivy League college where racial tensions are often swept under the rug, Dear White People is a send up of “post-racial” America that also weaves a universal story about forging one’s own unique path.
The series will be written by Simien (Dear White People), who will also direct the first episode. Devon Shepard (House of Lies, Weeds), Stephanie Allain Bray (Hustle & Flow, Dear White People) and Julia Lebedev (The Dinner, Dear White People) serve as executive producers.
The original film first gained traction in 2012 with a concept trailer, underwritten by director Simien’s tax refund. By 2014, the crowd funded movie made a splash at film festivals, earning the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
“Justin is a gifted storyteller whose bold, unique vision is perfectly suited to Netflix,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Netflix. “His original film Dear White People announced the arrival of a fresh, creative voice that had everyone talking, and we’re excited to have Justin create this new series for our members worldwide.”
“We’re proud to expand our partnership with our friends at Netflix on a comedy that tackles racial themes with a combination of intelligence, honesty, irreverence and wit,” said Chris Selak, Executive Vice President, Television, Lionsgate Television. “Our original film with Roadside Attractions catapulted Dear White People into the national conversation about race, and Justin and the rest of the creative team have an opportunity to expand this world and bring its timely and universal themes to a global television audience.”
Writer/director/producer Simien said, “During the film’s release, I had the pleasure to speak with hundreds of students and faculty across a variety of college campuses dealing with these very issues in real time. I’m so grateful to have this platform – not only to give a voice to those too often unheard in our culture, but to also tell great stories from new points of views. From day one, Lionsgate has been remarkably supportive of the vision for the show, and working with Netflix is every bit as harmonious as I’d imagined it would be. Bringing this show to such a vibrant platform is an honor I don’t take lightly.”
Dear White People is Lionsgate’s second original series for Netflix. The critically-acclaimed global blockbuster Orange Is The New Black returns for its fourth season on June 17.