YouTube star Kian Lawley will not appear in the upcoming film based on the bestselling YA novel The Hate U Give after a video of Lawley making racist statements began making rounds.
A spokesperson for Twentieth Century Fox Films said in a statement to CNN.
“Due to the controversy surrounding his past comments and behavior, 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.“
An undated video of Lawley making racist remarks was uploaded late last month by YouTube user Just Trash and has since removed for a copyright claim by Jc Caylen. In it Lawley says among other things,
“We’re all black drinking purple Kool-aid and eating Kentucky fried motherfucking chicken.”
(You can see 16 seconds of the video here.) With just 42,000 views, the video still drew enough attention to prompt a response from Lawley two days ago, before he was let go from the film. He wrote on Twitter,
“If u don’t learn from ur mistakes, u can never grow as a person. I’ve learned a lot & i am grateful to have the power to change.“
Lawley was cast in The Hate U Give, and the film stars Amandla Stenberg as lead character Starr Cater, a teen who is growing up in a poor, primarily black neighborhood but attends an affluent prep school with mostly white peers. She witnesses police shooting her unarmed childhood friend and Starr finds herself in conflict with her two worlds more than ever.
Lawley was set to play Starr’s boyfriend in the film. Following news that he would be replaced in the movie, Lawley 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.
With that being said, I am fully aware of the mistakes I have made and strive every day to become a better me than I was yesterday.“
Lawley has been on YouTube since 2010, having started multiple spin-off and collaborative accounts over the years. His most prominent channel has more than 3.3 million subscribers.
(Photo, screen grab; via CNN)