Director Justin Simien wins an Independent Spirit Award

Traditionally held the day before the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards honors independent films.

Dear White People

He’s the writer and director of the satirical drama “Dear White People,” which recently won Best First Screenplay at Saturday’s 30th annual Independent Spirit Awards.

Accepting his honor, Simien who joked that he didn’t write a speech because he was too busy ogling at Oprah in the front row, encouraged his fellow indie filmmakers to embrace diversity.

Justin Simien accepts the award for best first screenplay for “Dear White People” at the 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards

“I started writing this movie some 10 years ago as an impulse because I didn’t really my story out there in the culture,” Simien said. “I didn’t see myself reflected back at me in the films I love or the stories that resonated for me. If you have a story, if you don’t see yourself in the culture, please put yourself there, because we need you. We need to see the world through your eyes.”

Like “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, Simien also started out as a publicist.

The film “Dear White People” which released in theaters last October follows four high-achieving black students at a fictional University where a riot breaks out over a popular ‘African American’ themed party thrown by a white fraternity. It stars Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P Bell and Dennis Haysbert.

Dear White People

Traditionally held the day before the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards exclusively honors independent films and was hosted by Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell.

Presenters and attendees at this annual event included Kerry Washington, David Oyelowo, Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Craig Robinson, Oliva Munn, Marisa Tomei and Alfred Molina.

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