2017 young adult novel The Hate U Give personified the #MeToo movement by telling the story of a teenaged girl who experiences the death of her friend firsthand. Following the original story written by Angie Thomas, screenwriter Audrey Wells took on the task of translating it to screen in the new film starring Amandla Stenberg, from this summer’s The Darkest Minds. Sadly, the talented writer will not see her latest work reach the masses, as Wells passed away just one day before The Hate U Give‘s release. The 58-year-old died on Thursday after a five-year battle with cancer.
Prior to adapting The Hate U Give to film, Audrey Wells penned other films including The Truth About Cats & Dogs, George of the Jungle, The Kid Shall We Dance and A Dog’s Purpose. Wells also directed two films: 1999’s Guinevere and 2003’s Under the Tuscan Sun. Her biggest box office earnings stemmed from her collaborations with Disney on family films George of the Jungle in 1997 and The Kid in 2000. The screenwriter leaves behind her husband Brian and daughter Tatiana along with her contributions to the film industry.
Co-President of United Talent Agency David Kramer has since praised Audrey Wells for her strong, independent female characters that will “be a part of her legacy always” Additionally, The Hate U Give novelist Angie Thomas tweeted the following:
It was a joy to work with Audrey, and I’m forever grateful for what she gave us with The Hate U Give adaptation. She will truly be missed.
News of her death comes via CBS News, just before The Hate U Give‘s limited release on October 6th. The topical teen drama premiered at Toronto Film Festival last month to high praise from early critics. Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt detailed in her review that the film has a “a message that feels too fresh and important to dismiss — not of hate but of hope, and faith that even if sharing these stories can’t magically fix what’s broken, telling them still matters.” The important film will campaign for Oscar recognition for its discussion of racial violence in the United States. It follows a teenaged girl named Starr Carter who is thrust into the spotlight to tell her story and speak out after her childhood friend is shot in front of her by a police officer when he moved his hands to pull out a hairbrush.
The Hate U Give starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russel Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae and Common is now playing in select theaters and will expand nationwide on October 19.