YouTube personality and actor Kian Lawley has been fired from his role in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming project The Hate U Give after an old video of Lawley using racist epithets resurfaced. The video features Lawley saying the N-word and using obscene gestures.
According to People, the studio released a statement on Monday saying “Due to the controversy surrounding his past comments and behaviour, 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.”
The Hate U Give is an anticipated film based on the popular and critically acclaimed novel by Angie Thomas. It tells the story of Starr Carter, to be played by Amandla Stenberg, a young woman moving between her neighbourhood entrenched in poverty and her wealthy private school. She witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed best friend which adds even more conflict to her dual lives.
This topical film wrapped in November and was directed by George Tillman Jr. It has an all-star cast including Common, Issa Rae, Algee Smith, Russell Hornsby, and Anthony Mackie. Lawley was set to play Starr’s white boyfriend.
Lawley has since released a statement through his publicist: “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.”
Lawley, who was primarily known through his YouTube channel, had been making the transition into more formal acting through the Fullscreen series H8TERS and films like Before I Fall.
This incident is one of several in the last year in which social media stars have had to apologise for offensive online content and learn a lesson in internet responsibility. In December, Logan Paul posted a video of a person who appeared to have died by suicide in Japan, causing YouTube to put all of his future projects and films on hold.
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