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After a video surfaced online of actor Kian Lawley making racially charged jokes, 20th Century Fox has decided to remove him from the upcoming release The Hate U Give.
In the 12-second clip, Lawley appears to use a racial slur (that portion is bleeped), then adds, “We’re all black, drinking purple Kool-Aid and eating Kentucky Fried motherfucking Chicken.”
“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,” a studio rep said Monday in a statement.
The Hate U Give is based on the young adult novel by Angie Thomas. The story follows Starr, a young woman drawn to activism after she witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend. The story is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg leads a cast that also includes Regina Hall, Common, Issa Rae and Anthony Mackie. In the feature, Lawley was cast as Starr’s white boyfriend.
“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,” said Lawley in a statement of his own. “I understand the impact and I have grown and learned since then. From now on I plan to use my voice for positive change.”
While the film has not yet been given a release date, filming on Hate U Give wrapped in November. Fox’s choice to recast Lawley so far into production parallels Sony’s decision to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer on Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World.
Lawley is best known as a YouTuber, but has tried to make the transition to acting, co-starring on the Fullscreen series H8TERS and appearing in AwesomenessTV features Before I Fall and Shovel Buddies.
Lawley is the latest social media star to land in hot water with creative partners after racial and culturally insensitive remarks were published online.
After Logan Paul posted a video on Dec. 31 that featured images of a suicide victim, YouTube put its original projects on hold with the actor and internet personality, including a sequel to the YouTube Red sci-fi thriller The Thinning. And Disney’s Maker Studios severed ties with YouTube gamer PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, after he released a series of anti-Semitic posts to his 53 million subscribers.
11:50 p.m. PT Updated to include a statement from Lawley.
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