hate u give movie kian lawley recast racist youtube video

YouTuber Kian Lawley Has Been Dropped From The Hate U Give Over Racist Video

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Actor and YouTube personality Kian Lawley has reportedly been fired from the upcoming film adaptation of the YA hit The Hate U Give after a video surfaced of him making racist jokes, including repeated use of the N-word.

The movie, which is based on Angie Thomas’ bestseller, is about Starr Carter, a black teenager who witnesses the murder of her friend by a white police officer. Starr lives with her family in a low-income black community plagued by gang violence, but attends an affluent, nearly all-white private prep school. Much of the book is about her struggle to reconcile those two parts of her life. Her white boyfriend, Chris, is an essential part of that story. Starr feels immense guilt over dating a white boy, but Chris is a source of love and support, and we see him striving to be an ally to her.

Meaning, this is not a character that can be played by someone who has made racist jokes on YouTube. Especially not in a movie aimed at a young audience, who will likely go in with total awareness of the actors’ social media presences. The video is a few years old, so Lawley, now 22, would have been in his late teens then. But when you put something that awful on the internet for millions of followers to see, there’s no undoing that.

20th Century Fox has announced that they’ve removed Lawley from the film and plans to recast and reshoot the role. As far as I can see, there was no release date announced yet for the film, but production had reportedly already wrapped all the way back in November. That means this film is doing a full Christopher Plummer, replacing the role long after they had finished shooting.

Lawley has released a statement, saying “Words have power and can do damage. I own mine and I am sorry. I respect Fox’s decision to recast this role for The Hate U Give as it is an important story, and it would not be appropriate for me to be involved considering the actions of my past. I understand the impact and I have grown and learned since then. From now on I plan to use my voice for positive change.”

The Hate U Give stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina King, Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Russell Hornsby, and Common. I’m excited to see who they recast as Chris, but maybe they ought to stay away from “YouTube personalities.”

(via THR, image: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.