Common and Amandla Stenberg on tackling the nuances of "blackness" in "The Hate U Give"

"The Hate U Give": Common & Amandla Stenberg

In the new film "The Hate U Give," 16-year-old Starr spends her days switching between two worlds: the poor, predominantly black neighborhood where she lives and her wealthy, mostly white prep school. Both her worlds are turned upside down when she witnesses her childhood friend being shot to death by a cop mistaking a brush for a gun.The shooting forces her to find her voice. 

Starr is portrayed by actress Amandla Stenberg, who first gained recognition as Rue in the "The Hunger Games." Stenberg along with hip-hop artist Common, who plays Starr's uncle who is a cop, joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss how the movie brings nuance and multidimensionality to a story that feels all too familiar in America.

"Well, the truth is they're human beings," Common said. "And just like we don't want to stereotype black people, we don't want to stereotype all police as bad. We do have to recognize that there's something in the system that has allowed the police officers to shoot unarmed black and brown people, and we have to … understand that that's a problem."

The Hate U Give | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX by 20th Century Fox on YouTube

Common said that taking on the role of a cop allowed him to see a different perspective.  

"I feel like there's no excuses for unarmed people being shot 16 times … but that's the beauty of acting. You get to understand people's positions even more," he said.

While Starr's uncle is a cop, her father is a former gang member. Stenberg hopes the film can bring nuance not just to how we see stories of police violence but also to what is considered blackness.

"Hopefully, we can postulate it [blackness] in a way that's truthful and honest and we're allowed to be open and candid and multidimensional," Stenberg said. "She's a nuanced black person, living a contemporary black experience. Something that we often have to do is codeswitch depending on the environment that we're in because we understand that blackness is not necessarily accepted into all the spaces that we enter into. And so sometimes it's necessary to be very intentional with how we present ourselves in order to achieve some sort of success."

"The Hate U Give," which is based on a bestselling novel with the same name, opens in theaters nationwide on October 19.