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In the second season of Netflix’s hit series Dear White People, many of the show’s leading characters make significant transformations. Joelle Brooks, Armstrong-Parker’s resident STEM major and Sam’s partner-in-crime (played by Logan Browning), is long overdue for her glow up and she is not here to play this season.

As actress Ashley Blaine Featherson joins us in the dorms at CASSIUS University, she shares a little bit about how Joelle comes to experience this journey.

“Joelle just kind of gets tired of it,” Featherson tells CASSIUS. “She gets a little fed up and is like, you know what? I’m going to regain my independence and remind these people of who I am. Not in a rude, mean or demeaning way, but she’s decided she’s not going to hide herself anymore and I think that’s super dope. In this season you go on to see what she gains from that.”

Throughout the season we see her stand up for herself with everyone, from her closest friends to her love interests and the entire show plot line is better for it. Representation of women like Joelle — woke Black women in STEM with a voice — is rarely seen in media and it adds so much to the complexity of the show. Additionally, she’s not just showing up in the background anymore. She’s showing up for herself and her own needs.

While Featherson didn’t attend a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) like Joelle did, she had tons of amazing memories to share from her experience at Howard University. The actress says she no longer felt like the only smart Black girl in school, which she found inspiring. She also reminisces about her immense pride and joy upon graduating.

Watch above as Featherson talks all things Joelle, HU, and plays a hilarious superlative game where she puts her cast members on blast.