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In "Diarra From Detroit," a First Date Turns Into a Mystery

CAU Alum Kenya Barris is the executive producer of the BET Studios series debut.



Words: Jaden Johnson

A rainy CAU Friday always finds itself being one of the more quiet and isolating days of the week. The usual bustling campus atmosphere slows down in preparation for whatever lies in everyone’s individual weekend. Reinvigorating the spirit of community and campus participation, BET provided an early screening for their upcoming dark comedic mystery series, Diarra From Detroit. Beginning around 6 p.m., students were welcomed into the multi-purpose room with a buffet of complimentary wings, snacks, and drinks to prepare for the screening’s 7 p.m. start time. 


Once the show began, the audience was introduced to the main character, Diarra Brickland, a witty and observant Detroit public school teacher going through a recent divorce. Attempting to gain control over her newly found single life, Diarra begins her online dating journey in hopes the next swipe will spark a fresh start. Finally matching with a seemingly compatible man, she embarks on her first post-divorce date. Like any Tinder date, Diarra starts her FBI screening with questions such as, “When was your last HIV test? What’s your sign? Sun, Moon, Rising?” After the initial interrogation, the awkwardness is cleared between both parties and they eventually hook-up. Following their one-night stand, Diarra instantly falls into a deep state of limerence, telling her friends, “This is the perfect guy…I think.” After five days and no text response, she is met with the grim reality that she has been ghosted after what she thought was a fated connection. Unable to shake the feeling of something being wrong, she soon discovers there might be more to the story than the simple He’s Just Not That Into You conclusion.



Diarra | Photo by Vanessa Clifton, BET+


Once the episode ended, the audience was treated to a fireside chat with the show’s writer, creator, and leading woman, Diarra Kilpatrick. During the chat, Kilpatrick shared her story, creative process, as well advice for student writers and actors. When asked by the evening’s host, Robyn Jennings, what inspired the show, Kilpatrick explained her childhood recollection of her grandmother’s love for true crime television. Another source of inspiration was Kilpatrick’s insight into the realm of online dating through the horror stories told to her by friends. 


Along with the curated host questions, the floor was open to audience members who wanted to know more as well. Many participants were aspiring actors and writers themselves looking for words of encouragement in an often stifling industry. Kilpatrick urged the audience that confidence and simply starting are the most important things, saying it lies in, “Setting a goal to build self esteem and to build self trust.” 


At the heart of the story, is a complex character that Kilpatrick feels represents her as a multifaceted being. She relates herself to the show’s protagonist by saying, “Like Diarra, I feel smart at the same time I feel naive, and I feel quirky at the same time I feel sexy.” Beyond just herself, Kilpatrick believes audiences will be able to relate to the general idea of being transformed by grief. Although the show displays this specifically through divorce, the feeling of loss has touched everyone.


Closing the night was a meet and greet and a final Tamia Shuffle as students await Diarra From Detroit's official March 21 debut on BET+.

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