×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Dear White People’ Cast Talks Backlash, Political Climate’s Influence on Season 2

Something major happened between filming the first and second seasons of “Dear White People.” That something was President Donald Trump.

“We ended Season 1 when Trump was elected, so he didn’t exist in our Season 1, even if it may seem that way when you watch the show,” Logan Browning told Variety. “So Season 2, the writing is filled with that energy and how everyone’s affected by it.”

Politics were a hot topic at Wednesday’s Season 2 premiere of Netflix’s hit satire about a black student body attending a fictional predominantly white Ivy League college. In Volume 2, Browning reprises her starring role as Sam, who must face constant cyber-bullying in response to her radio show, “Dear White People.” Browning and her cast mates connected much of the intolerance showcased in Season 2 to the current political climate.

“The online troll that’s on campus is kind of directly correlated to Trump and that bombarded presence that you’re feeling when you’re constantly on your phone, and getting these alerts, like, he said this, he said that,” Browning said.

The backlash Sam faces also reflects the real world alt-right reactions to Season 1, which targeted members of the cast and crew, calling the show and its creative team “anti-white,” according to show creator, writer, and director Justin Simien.

“I understand cyber-bullying, but when people I care about — my friends, my bosses, my coworkers — told me that they were dealing with people saying things like calling them ‘monkey’ and saying, ‘You should die,’ things like that. It really hurt me,” Browning said. “It affected me in a way that it was very difficult to perform that stuff.”

Simien said the racist and negative responses to Season 1, as well as the “weaponized rage” sweeping over the country’s politics, has made Season 2 more exigent. In his view, the conflict also indicates that “a lot of folks who were not awake to the same issues are suddenly talking to each other.”

“The show is talking about something that we are really in the midst of right now, and conversations about race and identity on all sides, all angles of it, are part of the zeitgeist,” Simien said.

Though the show is political in nature, Antoinette Robertson, who plays Coco, said she thinks the series’ commentary on specific figures could be more direct. “I’d love us to take some jabs at the biggest troll in the United States,” the actress said.

While many cast members agreed Simien and the writers’ acute social awareness has covered an extensive amount of social justice issues in the second season, there are still some topics that could be explored further. Brandon P. Bell, who plays Troy, said he would like the series to show more of the characters’ extracurricular lives beyond politics.

Ashley Blaine Featherson, who plays Sam’s best friend Jo, would like to see “Dear White People” tackle millennial activism, citing youth involvement in the March for Our Lives campaign. Browning also hopes the show can eventually expand its representation to more communities of color.

“The world is so black and white, right? That’s kind of what our show is talking about — blackness and whiteness in America,” Browning said. “But once we tackle those topics, I’d love to dive into Indians, Latinas, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and how they relate to whiteness and blackness, because I don’t think that’s talked about as much.”

Season 2 of “Dear White People” will begin streaming on Netflix May 4. Other attendees at the premiere included cast members DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori and Marque Richardson, as well as Lena Waithe, who makes a guest appearance in Season 2, and Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

POPULAR ON VARIETY.COM:

More Scene

  • James Marsden attends the 2019 MOCA

    New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

    Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems [...]

  • Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment,

    Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment, Imprisonment for Trump, Says Maybe Al Pacino Should Lead Instead

    Robert De Niro honored Al Pacino, his longtime friend and four-time collaborator (with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “The Irishman” marking their latest pairing), at the American Icon Awards, and then called for a different type of tribute for President Donald Trump — “impeachment and imprisonment.” “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without [...]

  • Millie Bobby Brown on Her Feature

    Millie Bobby Brown Calls Her Film Debut in 'Godzilla' 'Kind of Unreal'

    Millie Bobby Brown is no stranger to stardom thanks to “Stranger Things,” but she still can’t believe she’s making her feature film debut in the monster reboot “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” “It’s kind of unreal,” Brown told Variety at the premiere. “I’m like, ‘What is happening right now?’ It’s so bizarre and unreal, and [...]

  • CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Robert

    Robert Pattinson Helps HFPA Donate $500,000 to Refugee Organization at Cannes Event

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association proved in Cannes Sunday night that the Golden Globes aren’t the only festive bash it can pull off each year. At the glamorous Nikki Beach party held in association with Participant Media, the HFPA donated $500,000 to international aid organization Help Refugees. Co-hosts Robert Pattinson and Helen Mirren along with Quentin [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan

    Peabody Winners Talk Empowered Women and Social Justice Challenges on Red Carpet

    The theme on the red carpet at the 78th annual Peabody Awards? Empowering women. On Saturday, Peabody winners gathered at Cipriani Wall Street, and one of the hot topics on everyone’s mind was the wave of female empowerment spreading across the industry. From Peabody’s Career Achievement Award recipient Rita Moreno to shows like ‘Killing Eve’ [...]

  • CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 18:

    Cannes: Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party at the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the restaurant of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content