|Justin Simien Quick Info|
|Height||5 ft 8 in|
|Date of Birth||May 7, 1983|
Justin Simien is an American filmmaker, author, screenwriter, and actor, best known for being a director of the feature film Dear White People (2014). The film received the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for “Breakthrough Talent” at the Sundance Film Festival that year, as well as the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Before his big breakthrough as a director, he directed multiple short movies, most notably Dear White People: Rings (2006), My Women: Inst Msgs (2009), and INST MSGS (Instant Messages) (2009).
One of the leading media production companies, Lionsgate, loved his work on the movie, and on May 5, 2016, announced that Dear White People would be recorded and released in the form of a TV series distributed through Netflix. The 1st season premiered in April 2017, during which Justin directed 7 episodes, and wrote 5. The series debut was met with positive reviews by the critics and the audience. After 2 successful seasons, the TV series was renewed for the 3rd one in June 2018. Justin has a loyal social media fanbase, with more than 50k followers on Twitter and more than 30k followers on Instagram.
Houston, Texas, United States
Los Angeles, California, United States
Justin attended High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas, United States.
After graduation, Justin enrolled in Chapman University in Orange, California, United States, where he studied film.
Filmmaker, Director, Author, Screenwriter, Actor
- Father – Unknown
- Mother – Anna Simien (Educator)
- Siblings – Unknown
Justin Simien is represented by –
- William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment (Talent Agent) in Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Grandview (Manager) in Los Angeles, California, United States
- Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano (Legal Representative) in Los Angeles, California, United States
5 ft 8 in or 173 cm
78 kg or 172 lbs
Boyfriend / Spouse
Justin Simien has dated –
- Rick Proctor (2014-Present) – His relationship with photographer Rick Proctor known for a photo series titled How I Get High can be tracked to February 2014. At that time, Justin openly admitted he was gay at the premiere of his movie at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Since then, the pair has shared numerous social media posts and images of them going on dates, showing up to support each other’s projects, and enjoying time together.
Race / Ethnicity
He is of African-American descent.
- Fuller Lips
- Stubble facial hair
Justin Simien appeared in a TV commercial for Netflix titled A Great Day in Hollywood in 2018.
Best Known For
- Being the creator, director, and screenwriter of the feature film Dear White People (2014)
- Creating the Netflix series Dear White People, directing 7, and writing 5 episodes of the 1st season
First TV Show
Justin Simien made his first TV show appearance as himself in an episode titled 1/21/2014 with Casey Neistat of the talk-show Live@Sundance in 2014.
Justin has shared gym selfies on occasion, where he was seen preparing to do compound movements such as squats.
Not a lot is known about his diet, except that he is a fan of eggs, chicken wings, as well as cakes and chocolate muffins to soothe his sugar cravings. In the past, it wasn’t strange for Justin to have an alcoholic drink on a night out with friends, but he always drank in moderation.
Justin Simien Favorite Things
- Board Game – Monopoly
- People – Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Beyonce Knowles, Jason Momoa, Lisa Bonet
- Movies – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Last Dragon (1985)
- Animal – Cat
- Quote – “Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” – James Baldwin
- Buddhist Author – Pema Chödrön
Justin Simien Facts
- He grew up in Houston, Texas, and had to conceal his sexuality growing up. He was also a fan of Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, and Alanis Morissette during that time.
- Justin’s dad died when he was 6 years old. His mom was an educator and wasn’t too happy when he chose to pursue arts and drama.
- Justin credited the time he spent performing in the art school as “probably the most formative time of my life.”
- Before he became a well-known director, he worked as a social media manager at Sony Television, publicity coordinator at Paramount Pictures, and publicity assistant at Focus Features.
- He began contemplating what would become a feature film Dear White People back in 2005.
- He was reluctant to seek financing for the movie because, as he claimed, “When you walk into a room to talk about financing, you find 96% of them won’t even take a look at the project because it has black characters and a black cast. That is the definition of institutional racism.”
- When he launched a crowdfunding financing campaign on the Indiegogo platform, he hoped to raise $25k, but due to a massive response, he ended up gathering $40k.
- Justin published a spin-off book entitled Dear White People: A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in “Post-Racial” America in 2014, the same year his movie premiered.
- Justin was compared to Spike Lee, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, and Woody Allen, as people spotted the influences in his directorial work. When compared to those directors, Justin claimed he doesn’t want to be “the next Spike Lee, or the next Ingrid Bergman, only the next Justin Simien.”
- The well-known online portal, Variety, placed Justin on the list of “10 Directors to Watch” in 2013.
- When he 1st watched 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which became his favorite movie, he thought it would be something similar to the Star Wars franchise. He quickly found out that he had to watch it for 5 or 6 times in order to fully understand its complexity.
- He was discouraged, out of job, out of money, and admittedly nearly depressed when a friend invited him to come to Buddhist chanting.
- Even though Justin was raised Catholic, he began practicing Nichiren Buddhism in 2013. He said that after the initial chanting and his wish for success, great things started to happen to him – his movie got made, he met Rick, his partner, got a constant income, and could pay the bills, so he naturally continued to practice it.
- Justin became a big fan and follower of the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, 2 renowned Buddhist practitioners.
- Visit his official website @ www.justinsimien.com.
- Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Featured Image by Justin Simien / Instagram