Master of None standout Lena Waithe joins Dear White People

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A version of this story appears in the First Look issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday. For more exclusive interviews and First Look photos only in EW, buy it here or subscribe now.

When Dear White People returns for its sophomore season, Samantha (Logan Browning), Troy (Brandon P. Bell) and the rest of the Armstrong-Parker gang will be watching something other than the hilarious Scandal parody Defamation.

EW can exclusively reveal that history-making Emmy winner Lena Waithe (Master of None, The Chi) will recur in season 2 as P Ninny, a braggadocious MC who stars on a ridiculous Love & Hip Hop-like reality series called Trap-House Tricks. Check out the exclusive first look at Waithe as Ninny above.

“It’s Lena if Lena was a hot mess. It’s proto-Lena,” says series creator Justin Simien about this excessive character. 

“I’ve never played anyone like this character,” says Waithe, who was a producer on the movie upon which the series is based. “What’s so funny about her is that she’s not aware of how she’s coming off to the world. But, she’s a lot of fun. I just got be like really silly and crazy, and say crazy stuff, because that’s what happens in that world.” 

As the season unfolds, P Ninny embarks on a journey of self-discovery that mirrors the main characters’ lives and, in typical Dear White People style, offers up some social commentary. “It’s [us] having fun and making our own commentary on the state of black people in television and in culture and how that affects people, particularly our protagonists,” says Simien.

Saeed Adyani/Netflix

The college satire’s first season ended with a failed protest, and the campus is still feeling that when the new season picks up. For thwarted revolutionary Samantha, that means picking up the pieces of her shattered public persona — but that’s made difficult when someone starts kicking her when she’s down.

“Who she is is very much under attack and there’s a faction on campus that sees a weak spot and really goes after her after her protest turned to chaos,” says Simien, adding that the faction’s identity is one of the season’s many mysteries.

As you can see in the second exclusive photo above, things aren’t going so well between Sam and her ex Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) either. “They’re in a showdown of who could care less after a school project forces a confrontation,” says Simien of the scene below. “They share a social circle and a major, which keeps bringing them together in ways neither expects or plans for.”

Find out more when Dear White People returns in 2018.

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