Justin Simien: 'There Are Many Different Black Voices, We Should All Be in the Room'

Justin Simien: 'There Are Many Different Black Voices, We Should All Be in the Room'

The director of Dear White People on his provocative film.

Published October 15, 2014

Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year, Dear White People has been one of the most talked-about films of the year. By now, you shouldn't need any more reasons to see the film when it hits theaters on Friday, but in case you do, director Justin Simien and stars Teyonah Parris and Tessa Thompson gave us a few more.

Simien hopes his debut feature, about racial politics on an Ivy League college campus, will not only get audiences talking — pretty sure he can count on that one — but also demonstrate to Hollywood that there is a new type of film for Black audiences. "There are many different Black voices, and we should all be in the room," he says. The young director calls out Tyler Perry as someone studios can get behind, but who may not speak to younger viewers. "I am so glad there is a Black man who can buy an island off of the films he makes," says Simien. "But his films are not made for me."

Thompson and Parris, who star in Dear White People, urge audiences excited by the film to show up at the theater opening weekend and support it to send a message to Hollywood. "It's amazing to see representations of ourselves on screen in such layered ways," says Parris. Adds her co-star Thompson, "If we want to see more stories like this told, we have to get to the theater on opening weekend...and tell Hollywood that there is a market for this."

For more reasons to see Dear White People, watch our exclusive interviews with Justin Simien, Teyonah Parris and Tessa Thompson below. And see the film in theaters starting Friday, October 17!

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(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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