Logan Browning “Dear White People”
"DEAR WHITE PEOPLE"
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.