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Director/screenwriter Audrey Wells died at the age of 58 on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. Representatives at United Talent Agency confirmed the tragic news Friday, the same day her latest project, The Hate U Give, opened in U.S. theaters.
“Over the last five and half years, Audrey fought valiantly against her illness and she died surrounded by love,” Wells’ husband Brian Larky said in a statement published by Deadline. “Even during her fight, she never stopped living, working or traveling, and she never lost her joy, wonder and optimism. She was, simply, the most incredible wife and partner imaginable, and she knew always that she was loved by Tatiana, me, and the friends who were her chosen family.
She said just recently, ‘We’re so lucky, honey. We got to live a love story. Who gets to do that?’ We will carry her forward with us forever—as a mother, as a wife, as an artist and creator, and as a friend. She was irreplaceable.”
Wells penned scripts for films like The Truth About Cats & Dogs, The Game Plan, Disney’s The Kid, Guinevere, and Under the Tuscan Sun; she also sat in the director’s chair for the latter two projects.
She co-wrote the screenplay for The Hate U Give, based on Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel. The movie—which stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, and Common—tells the story of a black working-class teenage girl who attends a predominately white prep school. The protagonist’s world is severely disrupted when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend at the hand of a white police officer.
Stenberg previously told Deadline she had worked alongside Wells to develop her character.
“I wanted to ensure that her language was authentic to her,” she said. “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.”
Fans and colleagues went to Twitter to express their condolences, as well as celebrate Wells' life and career. You can read some of the messages below.