Another cast member has been added to the film adaptation of Angela Thomas's Black Lives Matter-inspired novel, The Hate U Give.
Algee Smith has been cast as Khalil, the childhood friend of Stenberg's Starr.
A few weeks ago, we learned, Russell Hornsby and Lamar Johnson would join the Amandla Stenberg-starring film, as her father and brother and Regina Hall would play her mother.
2017 has been a breakout year for Smith, starring as Ralph Tresvant in the warmly-received BET miniseries, The New Edition Story. He also starred in the Katheryn Bigelow's polarizing film Detroit, earning nearly universal acclaim for his performance as Larry.
First announced last year (March 2016), 20th Century Fox subsidiary, Fox 2000, won a bidding war for Thomas' debut novel and tapped George Tillman Jr. to direct, with Stenberg attached to star. The novel, which Publisher's Weekly says was at the center of a heated auction among 13 publishing houses, including all of the Big Five, earlier last year. It eventually went to Donna Bray of HarperCollins’ Balzer + Bray in what PW says was a six-figure deal for the young author.
The Hate U Give tells the story of 16-year-old Starr (who Stenberg will portray), who navigates between the poverty-stricken slum she has grown up in and the upper-crust suburban prep school she attends. Her life is up-ended when she is an eyewitness to a police officer shooting her best friend, Khalil (Smith), who turns out to have been unarmed during the confrontation – but may or may not have been a drug dealer. As Starr finds herself even more torn between the two vastly different worlds she inhabits, she also has to contend with speaking her truth and, in the process, trying to stay alive herself.
Thomas, a student in Belhaven University’s creative writing program at the time she came up with the idea for The Hate U Give in 2011, originally wrote it as a short story for her senior-year project, but it quickly expanded into a novel-length work.
The title comes from a tattoo worn by Tupac Shakur (the acronym T.H.U.G.).
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of Smith's casting.