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Activist And 'Hunger Games' Star Amandla Stenberg To Front Black Lives Matter YA Movie

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | March 24, 2016 |

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | March 24, 2016 |

It’s as if we made this movie up, but it’s real and really exciting.

THR reports that 17-year-old ingenue/activist Amandla Stenberg will front The Hate U Give, an adaptation of the debut novel from Angela Thomas. (Tupac fans might note the title The Hate U Give comes from Tupac Shakur’s T.H.U.G tattoo.) Though the book hasn’t hit shelves yet, its Black Lives Matter focus put it at the center of a heated bidding war last week. Fox 2000 came out on top, and has announced the script will be penned by Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun), the project will be helmed by George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food), and will star Stenberg, who has become a proud poster girl for political change.

At 14, the African-American actress was at the center of one of fandom’s stupidest controversies. Her casting as Rue in The Hunger Games had those with low reading comprehension skills crying PC-foul over the film’s supposed race-bending the character. Except Rue was already a person of color in the book. But that misplaced outraged died quick when audiences saw the adorable and poignant performance Stenberg gave to the fan fave.

Since then, Stenberg has employed social media and her fame amongst young people as a platform for advocacy. A school project she did on the misappropriation of black culture went viral. She won praise and headlines when she proudly came out as bisexual. And the woke actress has regularly used Tumblr to speak out in favor of feminism, inclusion, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQA rights. So, The Hate U Give seems a perfect way to bring her acting and advocacy together.

Thomas’s timely novel centers on 16-year-old Starr, a black girl raised in a slum who’s now attending a suburban prep school. But she feels torn between two worlds after witnessing the death of an unarmed friend courtesy of a cop’s gun.

Variety reveals Thomas wrote the story as a senior at Belhaven University, compelled in part by the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, the unarmed 22-year-old whose death-by-cop inspired the 2013 film Fruitvale Station. From there, she found her literary agent on Twitter, asking Brooks Sherman if a Black Lives Matter novel for young adults would get noticed. It absolutely did. Ahead of driving Hollywood astir, the would-be book sparked a bidding war in the publishing community. HarperCollins’ Balzer and Bray won. Now all that remains is to see when the book and the movie will be available to a public in need of its message.

In the meantime, keep up with Stenberg on Tumblr.

Kristy Puchko isn’t so much an angry feminist as much as an exhausted one.

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.