It’s been a long, grueling wait thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Netflix’s Dear White People—the brainchild of creative force Justin Simien—has finally returned for its fourth and final season.
After years of exploring life at Winchester through the lens of rocky relationships, explorations of sexual identity, social justice advocacy, the trauma of police brutality, and the divergent ambitions of its ensemble cast, season four deploys an entirely new approach to life on campus by transforming the popular series into—of all things—a 90s-inspired musical. Why exactly? Because with the Armstrong-Parker House producing the school’s Varsity Show for the first time ever, it’s the perfect opportunity to sprinkle some much-needed seasoning into a production that’s historically been about as white as Candace Owens’ values.
So with the show drawing to a close, prior to the premiere of its fourth and final season on Netflix, The Root sat down with Simien and other cast members to reflect on the cultural impact of the show and the legacy it leaves behind for future Black creators.
“This show is an exploration in Black creativity,” Logan Browning, who plays Samantha “Sam” White, told The Root. “There’s something we allude to a lot in Dear White People, which is you fight and you claw so hard to break the status quo, and then you elevate and reach a point in which you become it. How do you navigate once you become it?”
“Creating that space for people of color, and also queer people and queer people of color, in the industry there’s a ricochet effect to that, too,” Simien said. “Because we often don’t get that space. We don’t really get chances to tell personal stories. When I bring in filmmakers, I don’t want them to mimic me. I want them to do them. Because a lot of people have been able to come into our space and do that, I think a lot of Black storytellers and queer storytellers have been able to show the industry what they can do in a way that I don’t think they would’ve gotten that chance. That was really important for me to create that space for other people, too.”
Dear White People is available on Netflix.