UPDATED: Twentieth Century Fox has fired YouTube star Kian Lawley from the upcoming film “The Hate U Give” and plans to recast his role after a past video resurfaced of Lawley that included racist comments.
“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 spokesperson for Twentieth Century Fox Films told Variety.
In the clip, Lawley is heard using the N-word and other racial slurs. “We’re all black drinking purple Kool-aid and eating Kentucky fried motherf—king chicken,” he says. [The video contains offensive language and can be seen in full here.]
Lawley apologized on Monday night for his actions. “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. I understand the impact and I have grown and learned since then. From now on I plan to use my voice for positive change,” Lawley said in a statement to Variety.
He first responded to the backlash Sunday on Twitter, writing, “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. I never want to be who I was yesterday. We’re in a constant battle to become a better version of ourselves, use ur voice as ur weapon.”
Lawley was set to play the boyfriend of the film’s star, Amandla Stenberg. The movie is based on Angela Thomas’ novel of the same name, which centers on race and police brutality. Additional cast members include Issa Rae, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Algee Smith, Lamar Johnson, and Common.