Singer-songwriter Arlissa took the stage at The Contenders London to perform “We Won’t Move”, a song from the drama The Hate U Give starring Amandla Stenberg. After gorgeously belting out the tune and stirring emotions in the audience, she spoke with Deadline co-Editor-in-Chief Mike Fleming Jr. about the film and how it fueled her inspiration for the song.
In the film based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Angie Thomas and directed by George Tillman Jr., Stenberg plays Starr who constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the rich, majority white, prep school she attends. Her code switching takes a turn when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) at the hands of a police officer — a narrative that is far too familiar today. As a result, Starr is pressured from all sides of the community and must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
“It’s a very difficult subject to take in, but at the end of the day, it’s a topic that we are all very familiar with — and it’s been happening for generations,” said Arlissa, who co-wrote the song after watching the film and reading the book.
“There’s a line in the film where Issa Rae says: ‘It’s the same story, just a different name’,” she recalls. “It’s moments like these and lines like these that hit me.”
Arlissa said that “we must progress” and when writing the song she was inspired by Starr who faces adversity and speaks out. As a result, she connects different people creating hope and change.
“I really wanted to mirror that image,” said Arlissa. She adds that when all it takes is one voice to make a huge difference in somebody’s life — and perhaps all our lives.
“Thats what the film does really well — it shows people who don’t have to deal with this situation and opens their eyes to see why this is a prevelant issue in our lifetime.”
She adds, “It’s about togetherness, shining your light and facing an issue and working on it together.”