Justin Simien is the writer, director and a producer of the critically acclaimed film Dear White People, which won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The film was also awarded with the Audience Award at the 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival, and it earned Simien a spot in in Variety magazine's 2013 10 Directors to Watch list.
Dear White People has also been turned into a TV series by the same name. The first season of the TV show, which is a Netflix exclusive, was released in April 2017 to critical acclaim.
Simien gained national attention after making a concept trailer for his then unproduced screenplay of Dear White People. That concept trailer went viral on YouTube, garnering over a million views and $50,000 in donations from fans around the world.
Simien's work has been compared to that of acclaimed director Spike Lee, but Simien, while he was inspired by Lee's work, says he doesn't want to be the next Spike Lee, but rather "the next Justin Simien."
At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Simien announced that he is gay.
Prior to Dear White People, Simien directed three short films: Rings (2006), My Women: Inst Msgs (2009) and Inst Msgs (2009).
Simien studied film at Chapman University in California. Prior to directing his first feature film, Simien worked as a social media manager at Sony Television, a publicity assistant at Focus Features and a publicity coordinator at Paramount Pictures.
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