Dear White People has returned for its second season on Netflix and the series is tackling racist trolls and the aftermath of a protest that got a bit out of hand.
ESSENCE caught up with Marque Richardson, Deron Horton, and Brandon P. Bell, the fellas of Dear White People, to discuss their characters and what to expect in season two.
ALTER EGO: Lionel Higgins
His love-hate relationship with Lionel: "I love his sincerity, honesty and complexities. You want him to say so many things that he never does. He's such an outspoken person when he's writing in his journal, but he can't say it in person. Sometimes his voice kind of pisses me off, but that's what adds his flavor [to the show]."
On growing up in Saudi Arabia: "It kept me from having such a narrow vision about what I thought the world was like. I got to share everybody else's cultural experiences. There was very little prejudice or discrimination, and it opened me to new ways of learning different things."
Deron Horton, 25
HOME: Bellflower, CA
ALTER EGO: Reggie Green
On auditioning for Troy and Lionel for 2014's Dear White People big-screen debut: "I argued with my reps because those are not the roles I wanted; they didn't feel right. From the beginning, it was always Reggie for me. He was described as this Bohemian African rebel situation. Even down to the clothing, I had it."
His reaction to seeing how his character changes in the second season: "Playing Reggie is like playing a superhero, because of what he does for me; it's therapeutic. We see how he deals with the aftermath of the gun being drawn on him, how he copes with PTSD and how his friends interact with him. Nobody knows what to say. It's like real life—how do you comfort somebody?"
Marque Richardson, 32
ALTER EGO: Troy Fairbanks
On seeing a new side to "Troybama" after his arrest: "It's a shattering of illusions and privileged ideals that Troy had grown up with. How does Troy continue when his image has been flipped on its head? How does he measure up to the expectations of others—after never really living up to what he wants to become? We explore the journey of him coming into his own—or at least trying to find his way."
Remembering his days at his alma mater: "At the time the campaign for USC student president was a pretty big deal. You'd have thought it was a major political campaign. The budget was, like, a million dollars. There were posters and advertisements in the Daily Trojan newspaper."
Brandon P. Bell, 33