Director Justin Simien Talks 'Dear White People'

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Justin Simien, the writer, director and producer of the breakthrough film, Dear White People. We met in Georgetown, at the Public Relations offices of PR Collaborative to go in depth about his first movie and why film plays an important role in his life.

What inspired you to create this film?

JS: I attended a predominately white college, Chapman University, because of a scholarship opportunity. I felt that I didn’t have a connection to my roots. I wanted to showcase what it was like in that setting.

What was the most fun part of filming process?

JS: Creating and casting the characters. It was the most fun part of the process, in addition to getting to mold their personalities and traits.

Who was your favorite character to mold?

JS: All characters were equally great, but I enjoyed molding Coco’s character. She’s a very complex individual, even though she has a tough exterior, you’ll find yourself sympathizing with her.

We know who your favorite character is, so what was your favorite scene from the film?

JS: The fight between Sam and Gabe. That’s all I can say. It was the only thing that stayed consistent from the first draft of the movie.

All the fun aside, did you face any significant challenges while before or during filming?

JS: I wanted this film to be real. I wanted to get real opinions from people, which made my work stronger.

From my understanding, is it true that you used the @DearWhitePeople Twitter account for these real opinions?

JS: I started the Twitter page as the character, Samantha White’s, voice. It coincides with her radio talk show, Dear White People. I tweeted jokes about culture and society and got some entertaining feedback that I used in the movie.

What makes filming great for you?

JS: It incorporates all art forms. It’s an artistic outlet that makes you think and challenges you. After watching a film, a great film, it can alter how you feel and leave you changed for better or worse.

What do you hope your movie does for viewers and the world of cinema?

JS: I would like my movie to provoke conversations on what my work was about. It’s a story about identity and who you are as an individual. It’s about seeing yourself and others as different. It’s a humanly view of identity. My movie is universal to human culture and the conditions of society. Anyone can relate.

 

On October 17th, Dear White People opens in Washington, DC at the Gallery Place Stadium 14 and Georgetown 14, and in Largo, MD at Magic Johnson Capital Center 12. Grab your family and friends to witness a great cultural experience. Follow director Justin Simien on Twitter: @JSim07 & @DearWhitePeople

 

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