Justin Simien’s Dear White People Spun Into Netflix Comedy Series

Dear White People, the social-commentary comedy from filmmaker and former Chapman Panther Justin Simien, is being spun into a Netflix series.

The Internet television network announced that the Dear White People comedy series will go into production later this year and debut worldwide in 2017.

Simien, who wrote, produced and directed the Sundance darling, will write and direct the first episode, according to Netflix. 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.

On his days at Chapman University, Simien famously said,  “There was a lot of ignorance about people who were different.” Indeed, that helped inspire Dear White People, whose comedy series version is also informed by college students.

“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,” Simien says in a Netflix release. “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.”

Simien underwrote a 2012 concept trailer for his film with a tax refund. Two years later, Dear White People earned the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the Sundance Film Festival. Lionsgate’s Roadhouse Attractions then picked it up for distribution in theaters.

Lionsgate, which is producing the television version, “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,” Simien says. “Bringing this show to such a vibrant platform is an honor I don’t take lightly.”

Dear White People becomes the second original series from Lionsgate on the Netflix roster, after Orange Is The New Black, whose fourth season drops June 17.
“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,” says 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.”

“Justin is a gifted storyteller whose bold, unique vision is perfectly suited to Netflix,” adds 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.”

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