DeRon Horton, who plays Lionel Higgins on Netflix’s Dear White People, stopped by The Hollywood Reporter In Studio to talk about the political relevance of the show and why he “did expect it to ruffle some feathers.” Plus, he shares his favorite scenes from the show and what he learned from working with Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq.
When Dear White People made its debut on Netflix last year, it received some backlash for what people were calling “reverse racism.” As Horton explained, he thought the show might get people talking. “I did expect it to ruffle some feathers but I think that the people who did watch it found it to be a very inspiring show,” he said. “We wanted people to pay attention more to how we interact with each other as human beings and also just find some humor in the social injustices that we have right now because there is.”
Horton also shared why filming scenes with co-star Brandon P. Bell are his favorite, saying, “I really liked the scenes with Troy (Bell) because we play off of each other so well…he and I just play very much on set and so to have each other in a scene and not break is a challenge that I think he and I achieved.”
Horton also shared the screen with Denzel Washington in 2017’s Roman J. Israel, Esq., and as he explained, it was more challenging than he thought. “I feel like he’s somewhat changed my life, saved my life. I will say that him and other people that I look up to very much and to see this person in the flesh and just know in my high school brain, I was like, ‘I just hope to be like him one day,’ and I’m sitting here looking at him.”
“I want to stargaze, I want to ask him 2,000 questions but I also want to be as good as him right now and try and create this scene,” he added. “So it was really tough but we got to talk about a lot of stuff. We talked about Shakespeare, we talked about God, we talked about love, making mistakes and stuff like that but it was a really, really humbling experience for me.”
Seasons one and two of Dear White People are streaming on Netflix now.