Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Justin Simien is a popular American actor, filmmaker, and author. In 2014 Sundance Film Festival, his feature film, Dear White People won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. He also enlisted in Variety magazine's 2013 "10 Directors to Watch" list.
Early Life and Education
Justin Simien was born on May 7, 1983, in Houston, Texas to Anna Simien. He is American and belongs to the African-American ethnicity. He grew up in the metro area.
Simien attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He went to the Chapman University in California to study films. He worked several jobs in Los Angeles in his early days.
Later, Simien began directing his first feature film, that includes social media manager at Sony Television. He also worked as a publicity assistant at Focus Features, and publicity coordinator at Paramount Pictures.
Justin Simien started his professional career in 2006. He directed his first movie, Dear White People: Rings that year. The movie is based on his feelings while attending the White Chapman University. The movie started its theatrical release on October 17, 2014, in the United States.
In 2009, Simien directed two movies, My Women: Inst Msgs (2009), and Inst Msgs (Instant Messages) (2009).
In 2012, Simien created a concept trailer using his tax refund as funding. He launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise $25,000 but managed to raise $40,000 instead.
Simien won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival for his work in Dear White People. He received the "Audience Award" at the 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival for the same movie.
In May 2016, Lionsgate, an American entertainment company announced to produce, Dear White People movie in a TV series and distributed through Netflix. After almost a year of an announcement, Netflix released, Dear White People on April 28, 2017. The series' first 10 episode was written by Simien.
Justin Simien is openly gay. He revealed about his sexuality at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Simien is quite secretive about his personal life. Later, it was revealed that he was in a romantic relationship with his boyfriend. However, there is no confirmation of the fact.
In 2016 regarding his relationship he said,
“I moved into space where I’m a writer/director, my movie is a hit at Sundance, I have a wonderful loving boyfriend, and wow, I have financial stability. Why can’t I get out of bed still? It made it even worse because there’s nothing else I want. This is what I’m born to do. I’m living my purpose, I’m paying my rent, what’s missing?"
Once in an interview, Simien stated about being gay,
"I would say that what you are in society is important: It is important that I'm a black, gay director. But more important is who you are. If you're caught up with what you are and what society thinks you are, it's never going to not feel like hell. You've got to put more investment in celebrating and understanding and having care for who you are, what your needs are, what you truly love."
Simien enlisted to Variety magazine's "10 Directors to Watch" list in 2013 after the success of Dear White People.
Justin Simien is one of the promising directors. He earns an impressive sum of net worth from his film career but the real figure is still unwrapped. His net worth is close to million.
In 2012, with the help of a tax refund, he shot the trailer of Dear White People which led to a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. He started the campaign to raise $25,000 but got an overwhelming response and managed to raise $40,000 instead.
His directorial movie, Dear White People hit the big screen in 2014. The movie grossed $344,000 in its opening weekend in only eleven locations for an impressive $31,273 per theatre average.
Justin Simien talked about the experience of taking his feature film, Dear White People to Netflix. Let's check out the video below,