Amandla Stenberg and Algee Smith discuss THE HATE U GIVE at 2018 Toronto Film Festival.
Journalist Jaleesa Lashay @JaleesaLashay
TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL: THE HATE YOU GIVE IS A NECESSARY FILM
By Jaleesa Lashay Diaz
“The Hate You Give Little Infants F**** Everybody,” the Tupac acronym for “THUG Life” is essentially the premise behind George Tillman’s latest film – The Hate You Give. Adapted from Angie Thomas’ bestseller, The Hate You Give is a devastatingly touching story that reminds us of the unfortunate Black experience in this country.
“I think it’s very important now that the book is really based off of young individuals black and white, and dealing with today and its relevance,” said Tillman. “We really made the movie for them (the youth). But I made it for adults as well, because I think young kids are smart.”
Smart and talented, as demonstrated by the young cast of the film. 19-year-old, Amandla Stenberg plays the leading role of Starr Carter, a bright young girl with a loving family, who lives in a rough neighborhood; yet, attends high school in a white community.
“I feel like a misconception about privilege is that you have mal intention as a privileged person. That you have a bad intention. But I think the problem is actually that you have no intention. That you are unaware and have ignorance toward your position in the world and how it affords you opportunities over those who are discriminated against,” said Stenberg.
The turning point for the film is when Khalil, an unarmed black teenager and childhood friend of Carter’s (Stenberg) is murdered by a police officer. Khalil is played by Algee Smith of The New Edition Story and Detroit. Smith is absolutely precious. He makes you fall in love with him in the few moments he’s onscreen.
“I think when I had my initial audition with George. I sat in that audition room for maybe 30 minutes to an hour. And one thing we really said is we didn’t want to try too hard. Let that charm be there. Let the people fall in love. Let’s establish the chemistry with her (Stenberg) and everything goes to play out. And his direction really took it there. I’m grateful for George,” said Smith during his interview with EBONY.
While Khalil’s death feels all too familiar, Tillman does a thorough job at depicting how the murders of unarmed black men, women and children impact their families and our communities. The Hate You Give shows us a strong black family that knows their worth, while addressing the trauma that comes with death. A lot of that strength comes from Russell Hornsby and his portrayal of Starr’s father, Maverick.
“The reality of it is, as you said, we know these people. We know who they are. They exist. So, what I believe is that they will see themselves. And I think what I hope and what I believe will happen is that man, that husband. That father. That wife. That mother will say thank you. You acknowledged me. You see me,” Hornsby stated.
The Hate You Give made an effort to show the humanity of black families. A lot of that effort came from Thomas’ and Tillman’s conversations with families of shooting victims.
“There were certain individuals we had to get rights to like Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Emmet Till. This was already in the book, so I had to talk to Angie. I felt like let’s honor that, and by honoring that, you can’t just put anyone’s picture in the film. You have to talk to the family and get the rights,” explained Tillman. “When I’m talking to them, you know, you hear the pain. Like, in this movie, there’s people like Khalil.”
Dominique Fishback, who stars as Kenya, Carter’s stepsister and friend is an actual relative of Eric Garner.
“Eric Garner was a part of my family, and so, you never think that something like that can hit so close to home, and one day you wake up and it’s on the news,” she revealed during our interview. “It really taught me that my purpose was bigger than I thought. Now I’m here, doing this movie. The first of its kind. I feel very fortunate and feel like its apart of whatever my mission is supposed to be while here.”
The Hate You Give is a necessary film that is sure to impact the lives of the youth, as they see their experiences onscreen. In fact, as part of an initiative to get more students to see the film (INSERT BLURB ABOUT EDUCATION INTIAITIVE).
The Hate You Give releases on October 19th. Watch our interviews with the cast below.