Fox 2000’s adaptation of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is a tragic and familiar story of the unlawful murder of an African American man and the following impact it has on a community.

Starring Amandla Stenberg, the film, centers on Starr Carter, whose world is shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

“One of the challenges was really just trying to make you feel as authentic as possible, said director George Tillman, Jr., who made a stop to the Deadline TIFF studio before the film’s Friday premiere. “Down to even some of the riots that we have in the film, to some of the funerals, even the shooting itself… a lot of research that I was able to do from Ferguson from Charlotte, from Mike Brown’s funeral, all that was just taken in.”

Stenberg, an outspoken supporter of human right movements like Time’s Up and Black Lives Matters, worked with screenwriter Audrey Wells to mold her character.

“I wanted to ensure that her language was authentic to her,” said Stenberg. That there were words being put in her mouth that were legit. I wanted to make sure that she’s allowed to do that code-switching very organically and have all those components to be authentic parts of her… that she gets to be a full real girl turning into a young woman.”

Stenberg and Tillman, Jr. were joined in the studio by stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, and Algee Smith. Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, and K.J. Apa also star.

The film is out in theaters October 19.

Check out the rest of the interview above.

Deadline Studio at TIFF 2018 presented by eOne. Special thanks to sponsor Watford Group, and partners Calii LoveLove Child Social, and Barocco Coffee.