‘Hunger Games’ Actress to Star in Black Lives Matter-Inspired Young Adult Novel Adaptation

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 26: Actress Amandla Stenberg attends Glamour's Women Rewriting Hollywood Lunch at Sundance Hosted By Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner and Cindi Leive on January 26, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Glamour)
Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Glamour

Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg is set to star in a film adaptation of the young adult Black Lives Matter-inspired novel The Hate U Give.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the highly sought-after rights to the debut novel from Angela Thomas have sold to Fox 2000, Temple Hill and State Street after a heated bidding war. Stenberg will star, while George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor) is set to direct off of a script from Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun, The Game Plan).

The Hate U Give centers on 16-year-old Starr, a girl who grew up in the slums but now attends an elite prep school. Publisher’s Weekly has the rest of the synopsis:

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’s novel sparked an intense bidding war earlier this month, with 13 different publishing houses vying for the book rights. HarperCollins imprint Balzer + Bray ended up winning the rights for a reported six-figure sum.

The title of the novel is reportedly based on Tupac Shakur’s “T.H.U.G.” tattoo.

Stenberg has been in-demand since her starring turn as Rue in the first Hunger Games film in 2012. The 17-year-old voiced a role in the animated film Rio 2 and was a principal cast member in the now-cancelled NBC sitcom Mr. Robinson.

The young actress, who came out as bisexual on the Snapchat messaging service in January, has been an outspoken critic of the practice of “cultural appropriation.” In a widely-viewed video made for a history class last year titled “Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows,” Stenberg blasted artists including Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Iggy Azalea for co-opting aspects of black culture for personal gain.

Stenberg has also been an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. In a short essay posted to her Instagram page last July, the actress accused the media of ignoring and marginalizing black females.

“Black features are beautiful. Black women are not. White women are paragons of virtue and desire. Black women are objects of fetishism and brutality,” wrote Stenberg. “As culture shifts and racial tensions are tested through the vehicle of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it is important to question: Do female black lives matter too?”

Stenberg is reportedly repped by UTA and Del Shaw.


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