Lo­gan Browning “Dear White Peo­ple”


South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - Allison Kugel is a syn­di­cated en­ter­tain­ment and pop cul­ture jour­nal­ist, and au­thor of the book, Jour­nal­ing Fame: A mem­oir of a life un­hinged and on the record. Fol­low her on In­sta­gram @theal­lisonkugel. By ALLISON KUGEL

Her beauty is lu­mi­nes­cent, her con­vic­tion fierce. It’s a po­tent com­bi­na­tion and why ac­tress Lo­gan Browning’s por­trayal of stu­dent ac­tivist Sam White in the Net­flix hit series "Dear White Peo­ple," has struck a chord with au­di­ences. The series, based off the 2014 movie of the same name, also cre­ated by Justin Simien, seems cus­tom made to ad­dress the up­roar­i­ous in­ter­sec­tion where Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pol­i­tics and Black Lives Mat­ter col­lide.

Browning plays a bira­cial Ivy League univer­sity stu­dent, Sam White, host of a pop­u­lar, al­beit con­tro­ver­sial, cam­pus ra­dio show ti­tled, Dear White Peo­ple. Her char­ac­ter’s ra­dio show within a tele­vi­sion show is a plat­form for Sam’s griev­ances, her bot­tom­less ques­tions, and the ra­cial and cul­tural is­sues that con­tinue to sur­face on eth­ni­cally di­verse col­lege cam­puses around the world.

Browning and I dis­cuss the sec­ond sea­son of "Dear White Peo­ple," stream­ing on Net­flix be­gin­ning May 4.

Allison Kugel: Typ­i­cally, when I’m re­search­ing an ac­tor, there’s a clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween them and their char­ac­ter. With you, the unique chal­lenge I faced is that I couldn’t clearly dis­cern where your char­ac­ter, Sam White, ends and you be­gin.

Lo­gan Browning: That’s an in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion. Dur­ing sea­son one, I was much fur­ther away from who Sam is. A lot of my por­trayal of Sam was com­ing from a place of dis­cov­ery and ner­vous­ness at tak­ing on this role that Tessa Thompson orig­i­nally played (in the 2014 movie, “Dear White Peo­ple”). In sea­son two, part of me be­com­ing com­fort­able with Sam, was to stop fight­ing the parts of her that I thought were so dif­fer­ent from me… There are sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two of us.

Allison Kugel: Has she brought out the ac­tivist in you?

Lo­gan Browning: It’s made me more com­fort­able in be­ing an ac­tivist. I’ve al­ways been drawn to giv­ing a voice and a face to peo­ple who aren’t seen or heard. I feel like that’s a part of what comes with be­ing an en­ter­tainer and be­ing in the pub­lic eye. When peo­ple say that ac­tors and mu­si­cians shouldn’t be policy ad­ja­cent, I think that per­spec­tive is ridicu­lous. They’re put in this po­si­tion where they are in the pub­lic eye and peo­ple lis­ten, so it makes sense that th­ese two things go hand in hand.

Allison Kugel: Let’s talk about the nu­ance of color within the black com­mu­nity. Be­ing that you are light-skinned and with green eyes, has there ever been a time in your life when you wished to have darker skin and dark eyes to fit in so­cially? Were there ever so­cial con­se­quences as­so­ci­ated with your ap­pear­ance?

Lo­gan Browning: I’ve been grate­ful to have the par­ents that I had grow­ing up, and I’ve never had any kind of self-loathing in terms of wish­ing to be some­thing else… If they were treat­ing me like I didn’t fit in, then I just wished to be treated dif­fer­ently, but I never wished I looked dif­fer­ent.

Allison Kugel: Why do you think black men in our so­ci­ety are both feared and fetishized, si­mul­ta­ne­ously? This is a dy­namic that’s de­picted on your show, Dear White Peo­ple.

Lo­gan Browning: Slav­ery. That sounds like some­thing Sam would say, but it’s our his­tory. You take any peo­ple out of their home­land and you make them a hot com­mod­ity… you’re sell­ing them up on how strong they are, how big they are, how hard they work. Amer­ica cre­ated this. They cre­ated that di­chotomy of what they imag­ine a black man to be.


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