Lionel Higgins is an attending media student at Winchester University and a former article writer for The Independent. He is a major character in the indie film Dear White People, portrayed by Tyler James Williams, and the Netflix adaption series of the same name, portrayed by DeRon Horton.
Lionel is a shy reporter for The Independent. Although he exhibits social anxiety through actions like speaking quietly when trying to interview Sam White and getting nervous at the party, his introduction centers around the fact that he notified the Black Student Union of the racist blackface party and also exacted some revenge of his own at the party. The narrator comments that this action was "the start of [Lionel's] backbone."
It is suggested early on that Lionel was fearful of joining the Armstrong Parker House because he experienced homophobic bullying in high school from fellow black students. In Chapter II when Silvio says that The Independent is for everyone at Winchester and not just for Lionel's friends, Lionel remarks, "Friends is optimistic." This fear seems to disappear as the season goes on.
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Lionel previously lived, raised by his mother. He often embellished in different notions of nerd culture but dealt with harassment from other black peers during his younger years in school. Lionel also lived as a closeted, gay man.
In an attempt to return to Garmin House, Lionel is locked out, forced to call Kurt Fletcher, learning that his voicemail message had been changed to a homophobic gesture for oral sex. Left to sit outside the dormitory, Lionel sought the Dean's Office to seek a change.
Dear Black People
Lionel encounters Troy outside and engages in a brief conversation before he pulled away by George and Annie for a party at Garmin House. Walking inside, he is made uncomfortable by party-goers in blackface, pulled away behind the stairs where he shared kisses. Commenting on cutting his afro and being referred to as a Hershey's kisses, Lionel left the dorm house, seeking Sam in her A-P dorm room.
He was rebuffed, Sam citing that she did not feel like being everyone's "angry Black woman." Turning to the Black Student Union who were on the verge of dismissing their meeting, Lionel introduced himself to the group and informed them of a Halloween party at Garmin House that required their attention. Plotting to include other student unions into their fray, they collectively visited Pastiche's gathering, disgusted at the displays and putting forth an effort to unmask students and strip decorations from the walls; on repeated occasions, Lionel is pushed aside by Fletcher, who questioned what he was doing.
After informing Troy through text and witnessing Sam mixed into the crowd with her camera, he took over as emcee, putting on a performance before dropping the microphone and pushing the speakers to the ground. In the arousing chaos, Lionel is, once more, pulled away by Kurt, pushed onto the front lawn of Garmin House, where he is wrestled onto the ground. Rather than fight back, Higgins kisses Fletcher on the mouth before getting slapped. Soon, the party is stopped by Troy and campus police.
Interviewing the Black Caucus
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Returning to the Independent Office, Lionel sees a restless Silvio at his desk, searching through files. He is informed that the Dean had been hacked and that Silvio was venturing different files to know who sent out the invitations to the blackface party weeks ago. Lionel joins him on his computer; out of curiosity, Higgins read the transcripts to the conversation between Fairbanks and White. Reading along, he learns that after the person gained access to Pastiche's Facebook page, the password was changed to Sam's ID number, which the Dean admits he attempted to use. Lionel tells Silvio about this but soon tries to retract from writing a full article on White's involvement.
He heads back to Armstrong-Parker and catches Sam after her argument with Gabe. Warning her that she could be published in his next article about the hack, he added that he did not feel right about writing another person's truth.
A New Look
The next morning, Lionel knocks on Troy's room door and takes on the offer for a haircut. As he came out as gay to Troy, he had his hair trimmed down from his usual afro. Later, he masturbated in his room.
Drinking with Troy
Despite Silvio assigning Brooke to interview Troy Fairbanks at the floats parade, Lionel interrupted and pulled him aside, giving a false warning about his competing journalistic rival. The two walking away, he witnessed as Sam and Reggie ridiculed Troy on his decision to pardon Kurt for the racist Pastiche cover, while Kurt joked about the attacks on his character.
Later, the two encounter Coco who requested to speak with Troy privately, prompting Lionel to wait some steps away; his attention is momentarily brought to Sam and Reggie on the other side of the trees. Briefly eavesdropping, he eventually reconnects with his roommate, suggesting the two continued to a bar near campus.
The Hancocks and Town Hall
Lionel met and spoke with Silvio at his office at the Independent about things revolving around the Hancocks. When he attempted to put forth an article on them being bigots, he was informed not to speak ill of them, as they were the financial clutch for the newspaper, presenting an archived article on Armstrong-Parker House being predominantly black.
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Mystery of AltIvyW
Joining Brooke in the basement of Armstrong-Parker, Lionel shifted through trash bins for a mazagine that was missing letters. After having his sights on The Atlantic magazine, he made possession of it, as Coco Conners stumbled upon Brooke and him, questioning why they were down there. He steps in and persuades Coco to return upstairs, accidentally bumping into her and prompted to stop trailing her.
Approaching the dorm door of Room 104 and briefly startled by Brooke, Lionel interviews residents Rashid Bakr and Al on their connections to the magazine. Gradually, they find Sorbet hidden in the closet; they question Al about releasing her back to Kelsey. Watching as Sorbet bolt outside their dorm window, Lionel and Brooke awkwardly leave the room.
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Retreating to his dorm room, Lionel continued to await a message from Wesley and contemplating who AltIvyW could be, he becomes momentarily uncomfortable and surprised, as he witnessed Brooke begin to disrobe before him, moving closer in an effort to seduce him. Though he informed her of his sexuality, she continued but was pulled aside by a comment from Troy next door. With the arrival of Wesley through his dorm door, Lionel nervously told him that he had not interrupted anything and repeatedly mentioned Brooke's lack of attention.
Between the three of them, they consumed fries with condiments while planning out another method of solving the mystery behind AltIvyW. Between Alvarez and Higgins, they decided to seek a hack, turning to Reggie in the adjacent room. Initially, their pleas to identify the user were denied due to his ascribed removal from the movements around campus; however, Lionel convinces him to perform a hack after learning that the troll has been racially harassing Sam, among other victims on Twitter.
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Early Morning Antics
Accompanied by Wesley, Lionel entered the studio, where he found Gabe prepared for recording a video. In the awkwardness, he joined Wesley in questioning whether or not the two were ready to produce a sex tape together for a porn company. Upon being informed that Gabe had intended to reserve the space for an interview, Lionel asked about Dana, being answered by an arriving Sam that she came every other week. Both boys were prompted to leave the studio.
|Lionel Higgins' Appearances|
- See Gallery.
- Lionel has recently joined the app Bonr. Since joining, he has met one user physically, though they never engage any further than small chat about Troy.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dear White People: Volume 1: Chapter VIII
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Dear White People: Volume 1: Chapter II
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Dear White People
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Dear White People: Volume 1: Chapter I
- ↑ Dear White People: Volume 1: Chapter X
- ↑ Dear White People: Volume 2: Chapter III
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Dear White People: Volume 2: Chapter VI
- ↑ Dear White People: Volume 2: Chapter VIII
|Winchester Student Body|
|Armstrong-Parker House||Al • Rashid Bakr • Brooke • Joelle Brooks • Charise • Coco Conners • Elizabeth • Troy Fairbanks • Reggie Green • Lionel Higgins • James • Karen • Kordell • Martin • Kelsey Philips (Sorbet) • Sungmi • Tracey • Samantha White|
|Blakey Graduate House||Gabe Mitchell • Milo • Vanessa|
|Davis House||Amy • Abigail • Clifton • Dave • Ethan • Gordon • Max • Silvio Romo|
|Garmin Club House||Colin • Gordon • Jeffrey • Kurt Fletcher • Mitch • Nate|
|Webster House||Trevor King|
|Others|| Addison • Alexis • Wesley Alvarez • Annie • Annie • AJ • Becca • Christina • Conner • Deondre • Elisa • Eva • George • Ikumi • Jamila • Jasmine • Jeanette • Josh • Leo • Thane Lockwood • Mehar • Mikah • Miko • Nelson • Paige • Sabrina • Tanika • Thad • Theadora • Topper • Tristan • Vijal • Zak