Brandon P. Bell on ‘Dear White People’ and Troy Fairbanks’ Season 3 Changes

Brandon P. Bell reprises his role of Troy Fairbanks from 2014’s Dear White People movie in Netflix’s original series Dear White People. Of course, with 20 episodes so far and 10 more on the way, the TV series has had a lot more time to develop Troy. A star pupil and student body president, Troy is also a hit with the ladies and the son of Dean Walter Fairbanks (Obba Babatunde). 

Brandon P. Bell
Brandon P. Bell | Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Netflix

On the set of Dear White People’s third season, Bell spoke with reporters about how both Troy Fairbanks and the show itself is evolving. Season 3 jumps from the fall semester to spring and a lot has happened since then. Dear White People returns August 2 on Netflix.

Troy is paying attention to Troy this season on ‘Dear White People’

Troy has been a player, and could easily continue to be a player with all the opportunities available to him at Winchester University’s social scene. In the Spring, Troy is going to focus on what Troy needs. Whether that’s his education or his political activism will be revealed. 

“Troy’s just really I think focusing and listening to his inner voice and focusing, and not being distracted by his vices that have distracted him in the past and that he’s indulged in,” Bell said. 

Troy is breaking free from peer and parental pressure 

Troy is his father’s pride and joy, but what Dean Fairbanks wants isn’t always best for Troy. Troy is learning he has to be his own man. If that disappoints his father, so be it. Same goes for his social circle.

Brandon P. Bell
Brandon P. Bell attends Netflix 2019 Nominees Toast | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

“[Troy is] just carving out his own path outside of his father’s shadow, outside of what everyone in [dorm] Armstrong-Parker thinks of him and outside of some of the other circles that he’s in,” Bell said. “[He’s] really doing his own thing, but for the good of everyone too and not just being a selfish, ego-driven journey or experience. Just focusing for Troy.”

‘Dear White People’ is following new paths too

Dear White People has always explored how central issues affect each of the individual characters. Bell said the show itself is breaking from that formula in season 3.

“They kind of go their own route this season too,” Bell said. “I think before there was always a centralized issue, and this season is not without that, but this season you really see them do their own thing.”

Brandon P. Bell
Brandon P. Bell attends the Netflix FYSEE Kick-Off |David Livingston/Getty Images

A new direction means introducing new characters and bringing some other characters more into the forefront.

“You meet some new, interesting characters,” Bell said. “Some characters who were more supporting in the past who step up and really impact and affect their lives.”

‘Dear White People’ still tackles the tough issues

Even though season 3 will have new elements, Dear White People will always be dealing with social issues like racism and institutional oppression. Bell is proud to be a part of a show that can represent important conversations. 

“Art for me has always been just reflective of the world,” Bell said. “With that said, for me I’ve always wanted to tell stories that affect people in serious ways. If you feel like you’re doing the right thing, it’s okay to champion that and promote that in a sense and not be afraid.”

Brnadon P. Bell
Brandon P. Bell | Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Bell has seen Dear White People have an impact, and he focuses on the areas he feels the show can address.

“I think the biggest thing with me is the balance of not trying to cover everything,” Bell said. “It’s impossible to take care of everything but to do your part. Particularly young people come up to me when I was in the UK and just saying how important the show is and the issues are. Some commenting on the haircut scene between Lionel and Troy when Lionel came out. That stuff I know is important to people.”

Social media can help discuss ‘Dear White People’ but it isn’t the whole conversation

Brandon Bell uses social media to promote Dear White People and continue the discussions the show sparks. Season 2 showed how Sam White (Logan Browning) could fall down a Twitter rabbit hole. Though it wasn’t his storyline, Bell could relate to the pitfalls of social media.

Brandon P. Bell and Marque Richardson
Brandon P. Bell and Marque Richardon | Lara Solanki/Netflix

“Social media’s a part of the world,” Bell said. “It isn’t the world so it’s important to remain outside of that, to be aware of what’s going on and how you can use that platform for good and for change and to project whatever you want, but also at the same time take a step back and realize that’s not all that there is.”