Hollywood Is Taking A New Approach to YA Films

Angie Thomas is a young author who wrote a book inspired by Black Lives Matter.  It is titled, The Hate U Give, focuses on a young African American girl who sees her best friend shot by a Caucasian police officer.  Thomas knew this was a touchy issue and believed the book would not get published saying, “I knew that although the topic was timely, it was sensitive.”  She continued to say, “While there were calls for diversity in children’s books specifically, as a young black woman I wondered, how diverse is too diverse? Can I write this unapologetically black girl book and you guys find it acceptable?”

However, it turns out that publishers were fighting each other for the rights to the book.  There was an intense auction between 13 houses in February 2016; HarperCollins’ Balzer + Bray imprint walked away with the rights, closing a six figure deal.  Additionally, Fox 2000 and Temple Hill purchased the screen rights and fast-tracked the adaptation.  It is currently casting, and has Amandla Stenberg starring along with Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby and Algee Smith.

“When it comes to my work, I choose films that I believe can prompt an important and nuanced conversation on a large platform, or roles that I believe create representation for black women in spaces we typically don’t get to occupy,” says Stenberg, who is attached to both The Hate U Give.  “I do this so women of color can be empowered by seeing someone like them in media, and so those who have been taught to be prejudiced against me can see me as human.”

The Hate U Give marks a large shift in genre of Young Adult.  In the past it has largely focused on dystopian-set stories such as The Hunger Games.  This new direction is becoming what producers describe as “reality YA.”  This are stories about teens that take place in the real world and deals with issues that many face in their own lives.

The Hate U Give film is still a while away from release, but the book is currently available for purchase.  YEM will keep you updated as we follow the exciting new direction of YA films.