Dear White People first came onto my media radar over the summer while I worked on a film called Black Nativity. At the time, I was researching how to make a web series and stumbled upon the writer/producer of Twenties: Lena Waithe.
Not only is she an upcoming African-American female filmmaker – something rare in the industry – she’s also breaking into Hollywood with her team of other young African-American filmmakers with the Sundance success and Lionsgate acquisition of Dear White People.
Before I delve into the particulars, I’m a bit ashamed to admit I was quite skeptical of her venture. After all, how many young African-American filmmakers in our millennial generation have truly broken ground in Hollywood? I even went so far as to question her efforts in a twitter conversation. While I found her defense knowledgeable, I thought, who was she to be the pioneer? I’m starting to believe I was a bit jealous.
But let me tell you why. After first seeing the trailer for Dear White People, before it was accepted into Sundance, I honestly didn’t believe the production quality was high enough. It might have stemmed from my hesitation on whether or not mainstream Sundance would take “us” seriously or perhaps more so, I was nervous that Lena Waithe and director Justin Simien were being too racially controversial and harsh against non-Blacks given the current and much talked about concept of a “Post-Black” America.
However, from what I can glean from the trailer and snippets of articles here and there, that’s exactly what Waithe and Simien mean to tackle: the concept of identity for modern black Americans under 35. Essentially, as Touré often and famously touts, what does it mean to be black? After all, the film’s tagline is, “A satire about being a black face in a white place.”
But I digress. What I really want to say is this:
Congratulations to Lena Waithe and Justin Simien for joining the likes of Fruitvale Station’s Ryan Coogler. I can’t wait to see Dear White People on the big screen and look forward to what’s next to come from this talented pool of individuals.
Concept trailer below.
You can follow Lena Waithe on Twitter under the handle @Hillmangrad – I just hope to be as awesome one day!
(This piece first appeared on m for mia)