'Dear White People,' Black Face in A White Place

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Dear White People opens in select theaters on October 17th and nationwide on October 24th. The film was born of its writer and director's experience as a 'black face in a white place.' Partly provocative and partly hilarious, the film sounds like one that will have everyone who sees it talking--about some serious topics.

“The movie began out of my experiences in college, and just feeling like telling a story from the point of view of a black face in a white place. It’s an interesting point of view that hadn’t really been dealt with in popular culture at the time," Justin Simien said in a recent interview. “College is a time when the stakes just feel so high to figure out who you are. You’ve got to figure it out, who you are and what you stand for. We all spend a lifetime doing that. I thought it was an interesting world to set an identity story in."

So far the reaction to Dear White People has been phenomenal. Simien won a special jury prize for his film at Sundance for 'breakthrough talent.' It won the audience award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. And Variety has named Justin Simien one of its '10 Directors to Watch.'

The film follows its characters through several racially charged scenarios on the fictional Winchester University campus. The female lead, Samantha White, is played by Tessa Thompson. Sam is a radio DJ known for stirring the proverbial pot. She hosts a show called Dear White People. In addition to Thompson, the film stars Tyler James Williams, Teyonah Parris, Kyle Gallner, and Dennis Haysbert.

Justin Simien challenges people of all races to be mindful of others and even more mindful when it comes to issues of race. One of his wishes for Dear White People is that it might start conversations.

Is Dear White People on your list of must-see films? Do you expect it to be 2014's most socially thought-provoking movie?

Kimberly Ripley

Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and ‘Nana’ to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.