7:05am PT by Kate Stanhope
MTV to Air 'White People' Documentary From Jose Antonio Vargas (Exclusive)
Race has been a big topic in recent days thanks to the controversy surrounding former NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal, and now MTV wants to join the conversation.
The cable network is partnering with Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas for a new documentary on race titled White People, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The documentary will explore race, whiteness and how young white people perceive their racial identity in an increasingly multiracial America. The project follows Vargas around the country as he takes a deep look into the lives of five young white people from various backgrounds, as well as many more young people who take part in conversations about race at their local schools and community centers.
White People will be presented as part of MTV's Emmy-winning Look Different campaign, which aims to shed light on biases based on race, gender and sexual orientation. The project will premiere Wednesday, July 22 at 8 p.m., and will also be made available on MTV.com, the MTV App, MTV's Facebook page and the network's YouTube channel.
"Whiteness often remains unexamined in conversations about race in this country, even as it acts as the implicit norm against which other racial identities are judged,” said MTV President Stephen Friedman. “By shining a spotlight on whiteness, we hope ‘White People’ will serve as a powerful conversation starter that encourages our audience to address racial bias through honest, judgment-free dialogue.”
The documentary was made in collaboration with Vargas's nonprofit, Define American, which focuses on the conversations surrounding immigration, identity and citizenship.
“The topic of whiteness and white privilege is especially charged for young, white people — as they often are too nervous to actively engage in a conversation for fear of being offensive,” said Vargas. “Race is a sensitive subject no matter who you are, and our goal with the documentary is to treat each person, story and community featured in the documentary with the utmost respect, all while exploring what race means to them.”
Vargas directed White People and executive produces with Erika Clarke, as well as Craig D’Entrone and Amelia D’Entrone for Punched In The Head Productions, and Stephen Friedman and Betsy Forhan for MTV.
In addition to the documentary, MTV also launched the "Look Different Creator Competition" to invite up-and-coming filmmakers to create videos that offer creative new outlooks on the subject of privilege in today’s world, including racial, gender and sexual orientation privilege. Three projects will be selected to be produced and potentially distributed by MTV by a panel of judges including Vargas, Kal Penn (House), Max Joseph (Catfish), Carter Covington (Faking It), Franchesca Ramsey (Decoded), Laci Green (Braless) and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (UnREAL).
White People premieres on July 22 at 8 p.m. on MTV.