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Actor and YouTube personality Kian Lawley has been cut from Fox’s upcoming film The Hate U Give after a past video surfaced of him using the N-word and invoking black stereotypes.
A spokesperson for the studio said in a statement Monday, “Due to the controversy surrounding his past comments and behavior, Kian Lawley will no longer appear in The Hate U Give. The studio plans to recast the role of Chris and reshoot scenes as needed.”
Based on Angie Thomas’ topical, critically acclaimed young-adult novel of the same name, The Hate U Give centers on a 16-year-old black girl, Starr, who grew up in poverty but now attends a suburban prep school and finds herself torn between two worlds when she witnesses a police officer shoot her unarmed friend.
The cast includes Amandla Stenberg as Starr, as well as Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, and Common. Lawley, who is white, was to play Starr’s boyfriend, Chris. George Tillman Jr. is directing the movie, which began filming in Atlanta in September.
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In a statement provided to EW by his publicist, Lawley said, “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.”