Written by Kenya Hunter
If you’ve ever seen the show Dear White People, the obvious names come to mind. There is Sam, the vocal student activist of Winchester who struggles with her light-skinned privilege. There’s Reggie, Sam’s comrade, who just can’t seem to figure out why Sam would choose the white guy over him. Then there is, of course, the white boy, Gabe, whose relationship with Sam offers the discussion of interracial relationships while fighting oppression.
But what arguably makes Dear White People the satirical mastermind it is isn’t Sam’s “Dear White People” rants on Winchester’s student-run radio station. Nor is it Lionel, the student journalist who is torturing himself to find his “label.” The reason why Dear White People has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomato would be the supporting characters. Characters like Kelsey, whose naivety accents a much deeper issue of when class privilege intersects with the Black Lives Matter movement. And comedic relief characters like Al, the President of Black AF.
Al is played by Jemar Michael, who talked to Queer Black Millennial (QBM) about his character’s role in the Netflix Original Series and what it is like to be a Black and openly gay public figure.
Michael found his passion for acting in his hometown, Saint Paul, MN, at the Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing arts. After he graduated in 2009, his career at the California Institute for Performing arts commenced, but came to an abrupt halt two years later. “It just got expensive, and I am not about that debt life,” he laughed. “So I moved back home and got in touch with my agent I had throughout High School and she told me I would be filming (Dear White People, the movie) here.”