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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 a character on the Netflix original series Dear White People. He is portrayed by DeRon Horton in the TV adaptation and by Tyler James Williams in the original film.


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 from Chapter V, 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. In Chapter II 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.


Early Life

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 Winchester

First Days

to be added

Dear Black People

to be added

Interviewing the Black Caucus

to be added

His Identity

to be added

The Hack

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.[3] 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.[1]

1x08 LionelHiggins

Lionel's Bonr profile.

Drinking with Troy

to be added

The Hancocks and Town Hall

to be added


—Lionel to his editor[src]


  • 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. (Chapter VIII)



Winchester Student Body
Armstrong-Parker House AbigailAlJoelle BrooksChariseCoco ConnersElizabethTroy FairbanksReggie GreenLionel HigginsKarenKordellKelsey PhilipsTraceySamantha White
Bechet House

Chad TownsendDanielleEmilySofia FletcherMuffy Tuttle

Blakey Graduate House Gabe MitchellMiloVanessa
Garmin House Kurt Fletcher
Webster House
Others Addison • • AnnieAnnieAJRashid BakrBeccaBrookeConnerCliftonGeorgeGordonIkumiJamesJoshThane LockwoodToddMeharMikoMitchNelsonPaigeSabrinaSilvioSungmiTanikaWild