Russell Hornsby and Lamar Johnson will co-star with Amandla Stenberg for the film adaptation of Angela Thomas's Black Lives Matter-inspired novel, The Hate U Give.
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, 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.).
Hornsby will have a lead role as Starr's father and Johnson will play Seven, her older brother.
Hornsby was just on the big screen in Fences, will have and will have a series regular role on Netflix's new drama Seven Seconds whith Regina King.
Johnson will star in the upcoming film Kings with Halle Berry and Daniel Craig and will also star in the upcoming X-Men film in a top-secret role.
THR was the first to report the casting.