Justin Simien is an award-winning writer, director and producer. In 2014, he made his feature film directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed Dear White People, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent and was picked up by Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions.
After the theatrical release of Dear White People, Simien then adapted the film into a critically-acclaimed Netflix series of the same name. Simien served as the show’s head writer and directed several episodes throughout its four-season run. Both the film and the series follow the lives of a group of black college students attending a predominantly white and fictionalized Ivy League school and tackles issues of racial tensions, identity, gender, sexuality and class in the modern era.
Simien returned to Sundance in 2020 with the world premiere of his second feature film, Bad Hair. Hulu acquired the horror satire, which drove a record number of subscriber sign-ups for the streamer during its “Hulu-ween” roll out.
Simien’s third feature film, Disney’s live-action Haunted Mansion, premiered theatrically on July 28, 2023. Based on the classic theme park ride of the same name, the film stars Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson and Danny DeVito.
Next, Simien will direct and executive produce the historical docuseries Hollywood Black for MGM+. Based on the book by historian Donald Bogle, this four-part docuseries tells the epic story of the actors, writers, directors and producers who fought for their place on the page, behind the camera, on the screen, and in the credits. It is a definitive chronicle of a century of the Black experience in Hollywood, and a powerful reexamination of a quintessentially American story – in brilliant color.
Simien is currently executive producing a slate of TV projects through his production company, Culture Machine, and recently began an overall deal with Paramount TV. Under the deal, Simien and his Culture Machine banner will develop premium television series for the studio for broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.
Simien is repped by CAA, Grandview and Del Shaw Moonves.