‘Dear White People’ cast open up about final musical season, balancing art and activism

Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell and more are dishing on the fourth season of their hit Netflix show, plus their thoughts on social justice and the best '90s artists

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All good things must come to an end, and Dear White People is no exception. The hit Netflix series, which premiered in 2017, is wrapping up its fourth and final season with creative, impactful storytelling and a few musical numbers.

According to the official synopsis, the series’ fourth season will be “an Afro-futuristic and 90s-inspired musical event” that is “set against the backdrop of senior year at Winchester as well as a not-so-distant, post-pandemic future.”

(Credit: LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX © 2021)

The series stars, including Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Marque Richardson, DeRon Horton and Antoinette Robertson, sat down with theGrio to dish on their character’s growth and relationships, and reveal what fan’s can expect as the show comes to a close.

Browning explained about her character, Sam White, “I think that Sam and Gab (played by John Patrick Amedori) give us a lot of perspective on artists and artists in relationships, interracial relationships and dating. I think that they really haven’t even hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the complications of dating someone from a different background than your own.”

She continued, “2020 showed a lot of us and a lot of our relationships, you know, what that meant to be in friendships and relationships with people with different POVs than us. Where we leave Sam and Gab in the future, I believe that they are going to have a lot of work to do.”

Robertson added that the ending for her character, Coco Jones, felt “very honest.”

“I think we all ended up in a very honest place. I feel like everyone had goals,” she dished. “I know Coco, specifically, had goals and whether or not she ends up being complete or feeling complete — with the height of success that she strived to have — I guess you’ll see in the end. But I think it was very honest.”

The final season of Dear White People also shows the difficulty of balancing both art and social justice. The series’ regulars are forced to question where the line between activism and art lies when they decide to participate in a musical show, hosted in a building named after a racist figure.

For the actors behind the show, finding that balance for themselves hasn’t always been easy.

(Credit: LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX © 2021)

“I find that balance just trying to do what resonates with me and my true self what feels true, what I feel moved to do,” Richardson shared. “Dear White People as a project, as a whole, was the experience that made me realize that like, ‘Oh, art can and should be activism.’ That I can do that through my work in front of the screen, and that provides a platform to do stuff behind the camera, as well.”

Featherson, who star as Richardson’s love interest, Joelle, added, “I think that’s what the show is all about. It’s about the intersectionality of it all. I think particularly being a Black person, a Black woman, those three things [art, activism and social justice] is what my life is all about. I was born into it. My mother was born into it, my grandmother was born into it, it’s just who we are as a people.”

Bell, meanwhile, says that maintaining the balance is about “fearlessness” and “being selective about everything you digest.”

“Perfect example, the protests for George Floyd that happened across the country. I don’t think I’ve ever participated in a protest movement that was that huge, that shook the country,” he explained. “So a part of it was not knowing how to do it, right? You just hear your friend say, ‘Hey, we’re going to march at this time,’ and you do it and you just experience it. So that can be really beautiful and life changing.”

“With season four, we’re doing a musical. I don’t sing,” Bell said with a laugh. “But still, knowing that, regardless of your nerves or whatever, you push through and things typically work themselves out, hopefully for the better.”

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The final season of Dear White People features a slew of ’90s hits, transforming itself into a musical series with renditions of “This Is How We Do It, “Rub You the Right Way,” “Free Your Mind,” “None of Your Business” and more.

So, who are the cast members’ favorite ’90s artists? For Richardson, it’s 112 and Missy Elliott, while Robertson prefers TLC and Toni Braxton. Bell is riding for Usher, Nas and Jay-Z, Featherson is cheering on Tamia, Amedori stans Sonic Youth, while Horton is opting for R&B in general.

According to Browning, however, only one artist reigns supreme.

Brandy, hands down, because it’s not just that she’s a musician — like she had a show. We got to meet her when we went to Essence Fest, like she’s still relevant. It’s Brandy, hands down.”

Dear White People is available to stream on Netflix. Fans can watch theGrio‘s full interviews with cast above.

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