KJ Apa Access

KJ as: Chris
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
Written by: Audrey Wells (screenplay)
Produced by: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr.
Other cast: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, Anthony Mackie
Release date: October 5, 2018
Genre: Drama, Crime
Running time:  2 hour 13 minutes


The Hate U Give is 2018 American drama film directed by George Tillman Jr. with a screenplay by Audrey Wells, based on the 2017 young adult novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Common, and Anthony Mackie, and follows the fallout after a high school student witnesses a police shooting.


Starr Carter is a 16-year-old American girl who lives in the fictional, black neighborhood of Garden Heights, but attends a predominantly white private school Williamson Prep.

After a gun goes off at a party Starr is attending, Starr is driven home by her childhood best friend, Khalil. While driving home, they are stopped by a police officer for failing to signal a lane change. The officer barks orders at Khalil, such as to roll down the window and turn off the music. Khalil disagrees with the officer, who instructs him to exit the car.

While outside the car, the officer retrieves Khalil’s drivers license and instructs him to keep his hands on the roof while the officer checks his ID. Khalil leans down into the car window to check on Starr, before reaching through the driver-side to pick up a hairbrush. The officer shoots and kills Khalil. As Starr mourns over Khalil, the officer realizes that he was holding a hairbrush, not a gun.

Khalil’s killing becomes a national news story. Starr’s identity as the witness is initially kept secret from everyone outside Starr’s family – leaving Starr’s two best friends, Hailey Grant and Maya Yang, and Starr’s boyfriend, Chris, who all attend Williamson Prep together, unaware of Starr’s connection to the killing. Having to keep this secret weighs on Starr, as does her need to keep her Williamson and Garden Heights personas separate.

Starr agrees to be interviewed on television and to testify in front of a grand jury after being encouraged by a civil rights lawyer, April Ofrah. While defending Khalil’s character during her interview, in which her identity is hidden, she names the King Lords, the gang that controls her neighborhood. The gang retaliates by threatening Starr and her family, forcing them to move in with her Uncle Carlos, her mom’s brother, who is a police detective.

Carlos was a father figure to Starr when her father, Maverick, spent three years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Following his release, Maverick left the gang and became the owner of the Garden Heights grocery store where Starr and her half-brother Seven work. Maverick was only allowed to leave the King Lords because his false confession to a crime kept gang leader King from being locked up. King, widely feared in the neighborhood, now lives with Seven’s mother and Seven’s half-sister Kenya, who is friends with Starr.

After a grand jury does not indict the officer, Garden Heights erupts into both peaceful protests and riots. In reaction to the decision, Starr takes an increasingly public role, including speaking out during the protests, which are met by police in riot gear. Her increasing identification with the people of Garden Heights causes tension with Starr’s school friends, and especially with her boyfriend Chris. Starr and Maya eventually start standing up to Hailey’s racist comments, and Chris remains supportive of Starr.

Starr and Seven get trapped in Maverick’s grocery store, which is fire-bombed by King and his gang. The two escape with the help of Maverick and some other Garden Heights business owners. When the police arrive, Starr’s younger brother Sekani points a gun at King. Starr defuses the situation. The community stands up against King, who goes to jail. Starr eventually promises to keep Khalil’s memory alive, and to continue her advocacy against police violence by “any means necessary.”



  • The Hate U Give is adapted from the novel “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas published in 2017. It is after the death of the young Oscar Grant at Fruitvale Station in 2009 that the young woman, then a student, writes a short story on police violence against the African-American population. A few years later, as the country faced other such events that led to the birth of the Black Lives Matter protest movement, she decided to make it a book through which she could express her entire life anger: “The Hate U Give” is a real card and Hollywood offers the rights quickly.
  • The Hate U Give has been shot in Atlanta, a city very popular with cinema because it offers many different faces. It allowed George Tillman Jr. and his team to recreate the city of Jackson, Mississippi, where Angie located the action of her novel.
  • The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada on September 7, 2018.
  • There are two types of music in the film: Williamson’s and Garden Heights’s.
  • Quotes

  • (On the importance of the film) “The movie reflects real issues, but it focuses on people, not politics, and how these issues affect communities. It’s about things happening right now that everyone needs to know about.”
  • (On the importance of the book becoming a film) “I think it’s because it’s such a unique movie, it’s told from the perspective of an African American female which is quite rare, there are not many movies which are told from that perspective so it kind of individualises it a bit. I think it’s definitely an important film for today’s society. I think a lot of people can relate to it, it’s a story for anyone who spent time trying to work out who they are and who they want to become.
  • (What he learned from the film) “I also learnt so much about African American culture. I mean like growing up in New Zealand and coming over to the States. We have our indigenous people in New Zealand, the Maori people and I feel like that was also awesome to be able to learn about the African American culture and to be able to portray the contrast between European and African American.”
  • (Working with George Tillman Jr.) “He’s awesome. He had a clear vision of what he wanted and he is so passionate about and he is literally in every part of this film. He is never not working, he is always thinking about the film and I feel like I was really lucky to work with him.”)

    Official Trailer

    Bonus Features

       On Set Interview    B-Roll