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The streaming giant has tapped Powers actress Logan Browning to replace the feature film’s Tessa Thompson in the leading role, while Brandon P. Bell will reprise his role from the movie, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Based on Justin Simien’s 2014 crowdfunded movie, the 10-episode, 30-minute project hails from Lionsgate Television and will, like the film, follow a diverse group of students of color as they navigate a predominantly white Ivy League college where racial tensions are often swept under the rug. The series is a send-up of “post-racial” America that also weaves a universal story about forging one’s own unique path.
Browning’s Samantha White is a biracial film major at a crossroads of a political movement on campus due to her radio show titled Dear White People. Several black student groups want her as their spokeswoman, but Sam is still learning to speak for herself.
Bell will reprise his role as Troy Fairbanks, the son of the dean of students and a charming political science major who is campaigning to become Winchester University’s first black student president. Troy strives for ideals rather than his own dreams, even as it becomes harder to keep his personal and private lives separate.
Simien will write the series and direct the first episode. Yvette Lee Bowser (Blackish), Stephanie Allain and Julia Lebedev (both from Dear White People) will executive produce the series, which will begin production this year for a debut in 2017. It’s unclear if any other of the movie’s original cast — including Tyler James Williams and Dennis Haysbert — will return for the TV series.
Simien used his tax refund to underwrite a concept trailer for the film, which was produced by Lionsgate corporate sibling Roadside Attractions. By 2014, the crowdfunded movie became a favorite at film festivals and went on to earn the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the Sundance Film Festival. It has grossed more than $4.4 million domestically.
Browning, whose credits also include VH1’s Hit the Floor and Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, is repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and manager Ken Jacobson. Bell is repped by Luber Roklin Entertainment and Ginsburg Daniels.
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