Dear White People


Justin Simiem
(Director, Writer and Producer)

Justin was recently lauded as one of Variety's "10 Directors to Watch." He earned a Streamy Award nomination for the web series "INST MSGS," which was distributed by Revision 3. In addition to producing and directing online companion pieces for Participant Media's The Help, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Middle of Nowhere campaigns, he has also directed, written and produced for Take Part TV, Participant's funded YouTube channel.

Before entering the world of content creation, Simien worked as a publicist and marketing specialist for film companies such as Paramount Pictures, Focus Features and Sony Television.

Simien resides in Los Angeles.

Tyler Williams
(Lionel Higgins)

Tyler may be best known for playing the title role on the Emmy Award™-winning series "Everybody Hates Chris." This performance earned him the 2007 NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.

Williams made his return to primetime network television in 2012 by co-starring as Owen on the NBC comedy "Go On," alongside Matthew Perry. The show was nominated for a People's Choice Award for Favorite New Comedy.

Williams was seen on the big screen in the Tyler Perry comedy Peeples, opposite Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson. Other film credits include Unaccompanied Minors, directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat).

Previously, Williams starred in the Disney Channel original movie "Let It Shine," playing a gifted rapper full of self-doubt. His performance earned an NAACP Image Award nomination. Additional television credits include "Law & Order: SVU" and numerous sketch appearances on "Saturday Night Live."

Williams began acting at the age of 4 on "Sesame Street" and later co-starred in the animated series "Little Bill."

Tessa Thompson
(Sam White)

Tessa is well known by television audiences for playing Jackie Cook on the cult series "Veronica Mars." She most recently played Sara Freeman on the BBC America series "Copper," a period drama co-starring Tom Weston-Jones and Kevin Ryan. She has also made appearances on "Heroes," "Greyʼs Anatomy" and "Private Practice."

Thompson starred in the critically acclaimed film Mississippi Damned and joined a stellar cast in For Colored Girls, the film adaptation of Ntozake Shange's stage play. She will next be seen as civil rights leader Diane Nash in Ava DuVernay's Selma.

Thompson began her professional career in classical theater and continues to work on the stage. She is a singer and percussionist in the buzzed-about electro-soul band Caught a Ghost.

Thompson currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York.

Brandon Bell
(Troy Fairbanks)

Brandon is best known for his guest-starring roles on the hit television shows "NCIS", "Two Broke Girls" and "Revenge", as well as a recurring role on ABC Family's "Switched at Birth." He also starred in the Nickelodeon drama "Hollywood Heights."

Born in Dallas, Bell spent his youth playing sports until his parents enrolled him in the African American Children's Theater (AACT) to gain exposure to the arts. From that point on he knew that acting was what he wanted to do with his life.

After high school, Bell moved to Los Angeles and was accepted into the USC theater program. In 2007 Bell graduated from USC with a bachelor's degree in theater and in 2008 he received his master's degree in education.

Dennis Haysbert
(Dean Fairbanks)

Dennis captured the attention of audiences and critics alike with his groundbreaking role as President David Palmer on the hit Fox series "24," for which he received his first Golden Globe Award® nomination. He also starred in the CBS series "The Unit," an iconic and culturally relevant series produced by David Mamet and Shawn Ryan. Haysbert also appeared in the critically acclaimed CBS drama "Now and Again."

Haysbert returns to television as Detective John Almond in the new Fox drama "Backstrom," starring alongside Rainn Wilson and Page Kennedy. His forthcoming film projects include Think Like a Man Too, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Men, Women & Children.

Other film credits include Life of a King, Welcome to the Jungle, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Wreck-it Ralph, LUV, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Details, Breach, Jarhead, Love and Basketball, Absolute Power, Love Field, Major League, Heat, Random Hearts, What's Cooking, Waiting to Exhale, The Thirteenth Floor, Navy Seals, Suture and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.

Haysbert is a third-party advocate for Allstate Insurance Co. and has appeared in commercials for the company since 2003.

He is active in the fight against AIDS and has been a spokesperson for the Harlem Health Expo's "Break the Silence" campaign and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. He has done many USO tours, most recently visiting a U.S. Navy vessel and encouraging troops in Italy, Germany, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. Born and raised in Northern California, Haysbert began acting with a television role on an episode of the Emmy-winning series "Lou Grant."

Teyonah Parris
(Colandrea "Coco" Conners)

Teyonah may be an up-and-coming actress, but she is no stranger to the limelight. A member of the 2013 SAG Award-nominated ensemble cast of hit AMC drama "Mad Men," Parris portrays Dawn Chambers, Don Draper's loyal secretary and the first African American hire at Draper's firm.

A Juilliard alum and versatile television, film and stage actress, Parris is taking over both the silver and small screens in 2014. Her latest venture is the Starz Network series "Survivor's Remorse," a dark comedy from Mike O'Malley and producer LeBron James that is set in the world of professional basketball.

Parris doubled down with two feature comedy premieres at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Dear White People, Parris co-starred with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler in the romantic comedy They Came Together. Previously, the actress was seen in How Do You Know, opposite Reese Witherspoon, and the TV series "CSI" and "The Good Wife."

Parris made her professional stage debut on Broadway in Tony Award™-winning playwright John Guare's "A Free Man of Color." Set at the turn of the 19th Century, the comedy directed by George C. Wolfe also starred Jeffrey Wright.