Ever the introvert, Lionel gravitated toward journalism, which allowed him to speak volumes, without having to say actual words
The Narrator[src]

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.


This article or section is need of expansion.

Early LifeEdit

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.[1][2]

Attending WinchesterEdit

First DaysEdit

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.[3]

Dear Black PeopleEdit

to be added

Interviewing the Black CaucusEdit

to be added

His IdentityEdit

to be added

The HackEdit

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.[4][1]

A New LookEdit

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.[1]

1x08 LionelHiggins

Lionel's Bonr profile.

Drinking with TroyEdit

to be added

The Hancocks and Town HallEdit

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.[5]

Pride NightEdit

to be added[6]

Mystery of AltIvyWEdit

Missing DogEdit

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.[7]

Interviewing KurtEdit

to be added[7]

Seeking ReggieEdit

to be added[7]

Early Morning AnticsEdit

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.[8]


Lionel Higgins' Appearances


Someone once told me that Winchester was like jazz. Now, I don't know enough about jazz, but from what I can tell, when your solo is up, you better blow.
—Lionel Higgins to Dean Fairbanks[src]
—Lionel Higgins to Silvio[src]


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.[2]



Winchester Student Body
Armstrong-Parker House AlRashid BakrBrookeJoelle BrooksChariseCoco ConnersDejonElizabethTroy FairbanksReggie GreenLionel HigginsJamesKarenKordellMartinKelsey Philips (Sorbet) • SungmiTraceySamantha White
Bechet House

Chad TownsendDanielleEmilySofia FletcherMuffy Tuttle

Blakey Graduate House Gabe MitchellMiloVanessa
Davis House AmyAbigailCliftonDaveEthanGordonMaxSilvio Romo
Garmin Club House ColinGordonJeffreyKurt FletcherMitchNate
Webster House Trevor King
Others AddisonAlexisWesley AlvarezAnnieAnnieAJBeccaChristinaConnerDeondreElisaEvaGeorgeIkumiJamilaJasmineJeanetteJoshLeoThane LockwoodMeharMikahMikoNelsonPaigeSabrinaTanikaThadTheadoraToddTopperTristanVijalZak
For a full list of minor characters, see List of Minor Characters.