JUSTIN SIMIEN WANTS TO WRAP UP THE FINAL SEASON OF DEAR WHITE PEOPLE WITH A BANG

The Point Foundation didn’t let a pandemic stop them from honoring so many awesome LGBTQ+ leaders this year! 

The organization, dedicated to empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students through developmental programs and educational scholarships, threw a gala this past weekend to celebrate a few 2020 wins.

Hosted virtually by Hannah Rad, this year’s Point Gala was an interactive experience where attendees could “walk” through the pathways of the Point Honors Hall, celebrate the 2020 Point Foundation scholars, donate to their great cause, and watch celebrities including Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Elle Lorraine speak on the importance of LGBTQ+ leaders and innovators. The event concluded with a special performance from ’90s R&B group En Vogue.

Alongside Boys in the Band director Joe Mantello receiving the Legend Award, Dear White People creator Justin Simien was honored with the Horizon Award at this weekend’s ceremony. And PRIDE caught up with Simien just before Saturday’s Point Gala for a quick chat!

PRIDE: First of all, how are you doing? How have you been managing this past year? 

Justin Simien: The best I can, you know? [laughs] I don’t have to say this, this is not going to surprise anyone, but there’s a lot of conflicting moments. Heavy things sitting right up next to really sweet things. I’ve been lucky enough to have work continue, lucky enough to be able to release a movie and start production on Dear White People. Just trying to stay positive and stay productive. 

I think that’s all any of us can do right now. 

And also give myself…make it okay when I’m not feeling productive because this is an unusual time to feel productive. 

So you were supposed to film the fourth and final season of Dear White People earlier this year but it was halted because of the pandemic. You mentioned you were in production, so has that started back up again?

We’re shooting! It’s crazy, I have to say. It’s a very start-and-stop kind of process and it’s really slow because in order to shoot during a pandemic there’s a number of protocols that everyone has to learn. We’re all having to figure out how to learn these new systems. It’s been different than normal production but it’s interesting too. At the same time, it’s nice to have a job, to sort of feel like you’re able to move forward, but it’s very weird. It’s a whole new world. 

It would be nice to have something to break up the day-to-day monotony that a lot of people are experiencing working from home every day.

The anxiety of working during COVID is formidable but that’s what we do as artists. We take our crazy and we turn in into stuff for other people to watch and dissect. There’s plenty of that to do at this time. 

Anything you can tease about the upcoming season? 

I don’t think yet. I’m definitely trying to reinvent the show, which is what we do every year, but also continue the story about characters people have grown really attached to and make them feel like something conclusive has been achieved here in these past four seasons. Try to keep doing the unexpected. I know that’s vague, but that’s really the guiding light at the moment. 

This year, the Point Foundation has honored you with the Horizon Award, which is given to a young person who has taken a leadership role as an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community. What does that mean to you?

It means a lot. LGBTQ+ folks are in constant need of advocates. We’re constantly getting lost in blind spots. Particularly being a gay man of color, it’s just an honor to be associated with the Point Foundation and it’s great to know that there are people out there that actually care about not just education, but helping us be better leaders. Because we have to be leaders to get out of this moment we’re in. Our society is in a chaotic time but the thing about chaos and crisis is there’s this tremendous opportunity. I really do think queer people are the future, and I think we have to be prepared and we need advocacy and we need help. I hope that getting this award is going to chip away just a little bit more at that plight, at that cause. 

I agree, I think LGBTQ+ folks are the future too.

Truth is, we’re the past and the present but people don’t like to give queerness their flowers. The most exciting things about society are queer in my opinion, but that might be for another interview.

SOURCE: PRIDE DOT COM

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