Spirit Awards 2015: Justin Simien Wins Best First Screenplay

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The 'Dear White People' screenwriter began writing the screenplay 10 years ago.

Dear White People screenwriter Justin Simien won the Independent Spirit Award for the best first screenplay.

"I started writing this movie 10 years ago as an impulse, because I didn't see my story out there in the culture," Simien said. "I tried to put myself in the culture. That can be a difficult thing when along the way there's nothing there telling you belong there. This means so much to me because I do feel like I belong in the culture."

He encouraged those out there who do not seem them reflected in the culture to tell their stories. 

He beat out fellow nominees Desiree Akhavan for Appropriate Behavior, Sara Colangelo for Little Accidents, Justin Lader for The One I Love, Anja Marquardt for She's Lost Control.

The Independent Spirit Awards honors exclusively independent films, bringing together top Hollywood talent and independent filmmakers. Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell are co-hosting the 30th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards,  broadcast live on IFC. 

Follow the show events with The Hollywood Reporter's live blogSee all the winners here.