Amandla Stenberg is joining Universal’s movie adaptation of “Dear Evan Hansen.” She will appear in an expanded role from the stage production as a high school senior Alana, and she will perform a song in the film.
“Dear Evan Hansen,” a Tony Award winning musical, opened on Broadway in 2016. The story follows a high schooler with social anxiety who gets caught up in a lie after the family of a classmate who committed suicide mistakes one of Hansen’s letters for their son’s suicide note.
Stenberg, whose credits include “The Hate U Give” and “Everything, Everything,” will portray Alana — a high school senior whose cheery façade and social-media savvy mask a deeper loneliness and isolation, and whose response to the death of a classmate ignites a movement.
The role has been expanded for the film, with Stenberg singing a new original song composed expressly for the film. She is writing the song in collaboration with lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the music for the show.
Universal acquired the feature film rights in late 2018 with Steven Levenson, who wrote the book for the stage musical, attached to write the script and Stephen Chbosky (“Wonder”) directing. Marc Platt (“La La Land”) and Adam Siegel will produce for their Universal-based Marc Platt Productions.
Ben Platt, who originated the role and won a Tony for his performance, has been expected to reprise the title role. He’s the son of Marc Platt. Kaitlyn Dever has been cast in the role of Zoe, who begins dating Hansen after he begins a relationship with the classmate’s family.
Universal’s senior VP of production Sara Scott and director of development Lexi Barta will oversee production on behalf of the studio. Stenberg is represented by UTA and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.