Following a years-long battle with cancer, “The Hate U Give” screenwriter Audrey Wells died Thursday at 58, a day before her final film arrived in theaters. Amandla Stenberg, who stars in the Black Lives Matter–themed drama, spoke about Wells during the Emerging Actors panel at the Hamptons International Film Festival yesterday.
“It was a really, really special artistic collaboration between Audrey, me, George [Tillman Jr., the film’s director], and Angie Thomas, who wrote the book,” Stenberg said during a discussion moderated by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn. “Something that was just so amazing about Audrey is she understood that she couldn’t necessarily understand this experience. She — I’m sorry — brought me in to work with her on the script because she understood that she didn’t have the experience of a black girl and she wanted to make sure that she was as authentic as possible in how she wrote the script, so she brought me and George in.”
Wells’ screenwriting career dates back to the 1990s and also includes the scripts for “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “A Dog’s Purpose,” and “The Truth About Cats & Dogs.”
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“She had a lot of amazing collaborative conversations with Angie Thomas, the author,” Stenberg added. “She would ask me specific details about Starr’s language, you know, about her perspective, how she would relate to other people, how she wouldn’t, and did the research in a way that was really egoless and selfless because she cared so much about getting it right and being authentic as an artist.”
Stenberg continued, “We’re all just so grateful to her for that and we hope that the project itself honors her and the work she did. She was able to see it before she passed away, so we’re really happy for that.”