Netflix has given a series order to “Dear White People,” an adaptation of writer and director Justin Simien’s 2014 feature film of the same name. Simien will write all 10 half-hour episodes and direct the premiere. The series will begin production later this year and debut worldwide on Netflix in 2017.
“Dear White People” tells the story of a diverse group of students of color experiencing campus life at a fictional Ivy League university dominated by white students. Devon Shepard will serve as executive producer alongside Stephanie Allain Bray and Julia Lebedev, who exec produced the film.
The series will be produced by Lionsgate Television, which also produces “Orange Is the New Black” for Netflix. Lionsgate’s Roadside Attractions released the original movie.
“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.”
The film version of “Dear White People” began life in 2012 as a concept trailer, which Simien paid for with his tax refund. The crowd-funded movie went on to win the U .S. dramatic special jury award for breakthrough talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
“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 said. “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.”