Banff: 'Dear White People' Creator Justin Simien Talks Upcoming Third Season: "It's a Bit of a Gauntlet"

Adam Rose/Netflix

"The third season is a bit of a gauntlet. It's when people are either in or out," Simien told a Banff World Media Festival master class.

The second season of Netflix's Dear White People ended with the series' narrator, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito, suddenly appearing as leader of Winchester's black secret society The Order.

The series creator, Justin Simien, on Tuesday teased the upcoming third season of the college satire as he looks to keep pace with an evolving cultural conversation in America about race relations and political correctness. "The third season is a bit of a gauntlet. It's when people are either in or out," Simien told a Banff World Media Festival master class on Dear White People.

And into the third season arrives Esposito as a flesh-and-blood character just after the opening credits roll. "You don't have to wait a second longer. He's in the first scene. We immediately paid that off. I knew I had to do that, as I didn't want you all to be mad at me," Simien says of the season opener, shortly to launch on Netflix.

For Logan Browning, who plays the Dear White People lead character of college-radio host Samantha “Sam” White, the third season will give the audience more of a sense of where all the series' characters, including fresh ones, are headed.

"In season three, Justin takes this mold and breaks it a little bit, and that's refreshing," she said. Simien wrote and directed the 2014 film Dear White People, before landing his Netflix series of the same name.

The third season will allow the series' writers room to take time to expand on castmembers like Brandon P. Bell, Marque Richardson and Ashley Blaine Featherson, whose characters Dear White People fans have come to know well. "This is the first time you see springtime in Winchester, this is the first time you see romances bubbling under the surface finally start to bloom, and the first time that parts of these kids that they weren't able to look at finally get a look, and it's not pretty," Simien said.

The third season will also see characters confronted with personal challenges only hinted at in earlier seasons. "Season three challenges a lot of the things we've established, and it does so because the characters are having to come up against their own ideas about themselves and it all feels very natural," Simien explained.

Dear White People will also continue with episodes that focus mainly one one character as a narrative tool. "It's a limitation that makes for some great creative choices. I felt like we don't spend enough time with these kinds of people, ever, so let's give them a whole damn episode," Simien said.

Dear White People is produced for Netflix by Lionsgate Television.