YouTube star Kian Lawley will be replaced in the upcoming adaptation of bestselling young adult novel The Hate U Give after a video of Lawley making racist statements surfaced. While the film had not yet scheduled a release date, filming on The Hate U Give had already wrapped in November.
Lawley, who has over three million subscribers to his YouTube channel, used the n-word and other racial slurs, saying: “We’re all black, drinking purple Kool-Aid and eating Kentucky Fried motherf–ing Chicken,” in an undated twelve-second clip.
The video was uploaded late last month by YouTube user Just Trash. After just more than 42,000 views, the video drew enough attention to prompt a response from Lawley this week, before he was let go from the film.
Although his words in the now deleted video were deplorable, his response to it in hindsight provided some hope for personal growth:
“If u don’t learn from ur mistakes, u can never grow as a person,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve learned a lot & i am grateful to have the power to change. I never want to be who I was yesterday. We’re in a constant battle to become a better version of ourselves, use your voice as your weapon.”
He continued: “First of all, I am deeply sorry to those that were effected by my choice of language. I understand that I am in the public eye and have many supporters, but none of my actions that took place should be supported. Words have power and can do a lot damage. I own mine and I am sorry.”
Lawley was cast in the film based on the Angela Thomas novel of the same name, late last year. Published in February of 2017 by Balzer + Bray, The Hate U Give opened at number one on The New York Times young adult best-seller list.
The film stars Amandla Stenberg as lead character Starr Cater, a teen from a poor, primarily black neighborhood who attends an affluent school with mostly white peers. After she witnesses a police shooting involving a childhood friend, Starr finds herself drawn to activism.
He was set to play Starr’s boyfriend in the film.
Lawley, who also co-stars in Fullscreen series H8TERS alongside fellow YouTuber and friend Jc Caylen, said he respected Fox’s decision to drop him from the film.
He said: “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 a lot and learned since then.”
A spokesperson for Twentieth Century Fox Films told The Hollywood Reporter: “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.”