The timing of Justin Simien‘s Dear White People on Netflix couldn’t have been more perfect.
While the project was in production, a new White House went to work affirming the existence “white privilege” which, in turn, is creating resistance and honest dialogue about the impact of racism on the very foundation of this country.
The 10-episode series follows the lives of Black students at a fictitious majority white Ivy League school. All of the same characters from the movie transitioned to the show, with a few actors being swapped out.
“I like to say the film was an appetizer of sorts,” actress Nia Jervier — who plays Kelsey — told ESSENCE. “Our Netflix show is the main course. Fans of the film will be completely enamored with the show.”
On the series, Jervier’s character is an out-of-touch Black girl who’s alarmed that racism still exists.
“Her perspective is needed,” Jervier says about Kelsey. “There are people that actually believe racism doesn’t exist! Her character gives the viewer an opportunity to see how absurd that perspective is in the most lighthearted and funny way.”
“Kelsey, Joelle, and Coco they’re three dark-skinned Black girls; but their outlook on life and upbringings couldn’t be more different. Justin’s writing shows the audience we’re not all the same. Black people and families are varied and nuanced.”
“There’s a huge opportunity to learn from people who are different. Whether you agree with them or not. This is an opportunity to educate and uplift people. Tickle their brains. Shock their hearts. Bring them into our world, using the magic of humor. Its the best way to speak to someone’s soul.”
The series debuted on Friday and already, #BlackTwitter has rave reviews for the realistic comedic drama.
Just watched the whole first season of @DearWhitePeople in one sitting. I need the next season.
Aside from the contingent of White people who were offended by the show’s title, the most common critique about the show is that it represents the diversity of Black people in a mainstream sea that often polarizes the voices of people of color.
“Dear White People is what we need for those who think we’re living in a ‘post racial’ society,” Jervier said.
“Kids are going to be encouraged to go to college after watching our show. And…even the internet trolls that have been messy because of how jarring our title may be. This show is for them too.”