Audrey Wells is the screenwriter behind popular films like Under The Tuscan Sun, George of the Jungle, A Dog’s Purpose, and Shall We Dance. She battled cancer for five and a half years, but the disease finally took her life October 4, just one day before her newest project hit theaters.
The screenwriter’s last project was adapting the popular young adult novel The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, to the big screen. The story follows a teenage girl while she navigates life after witnessing the police shoot her best friend. Issues of race, police brutality, peer pressure, community, and family dynamics all play a major part in the film.
Angie Thomas honored Audrey Wells after her passing, posting this on Instagram:
Audrey’s husband released a beautiful statement about her, referencing her love, their child, and her sense of wonder:
Over the last five and a half years, Audrey fought valiantly against her illness and she died surrounded by love. 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.
Twitter had a lot to say about her passing, and the sad timing.
Yes, truly sad news. Audrey Wells's work is destined to make history. #TheHateUGive
— Samuel Daram (@Samuel_Daram) October 6, 2018
— Wilysha Pruitt (@Starring_I) October 8, 2018
Oh no! I just watched this movie today. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.
— Coconut_Lattes (@coconut_lattes) October 5, 2018
The Hate U Give is a beautiful screenplay that should garner her an Academy Award nomination. God bless the Wells family during this very difficult time.
— Sho'Nuff Skywalker (@BreakandEnterTV) October 6, 2018
Oh, my goodness. What a great parting gift she’s left us.
— Nina Jo VOTE Smith (@njtunesmith) October 5, 2018
Wells carved out an acclaimed career as a writer/director in mainstream Hollywood — long before there was any real attention to the ways women are thwarted from or denied entry to do so. #RIP
— Jenny McNabb (@mcnabb_jenny) October 7, 2018
“We need a witness to our lives… [someone] saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.'”
RIP Audrey Wells, one of the most thoughtful, open-hearted, and vital screenwriters of our time.
— Marc Edward Heuck (@the_hoyk) October 5, 2018
Angie Thomas wasn’t the only celebrity to honor Audrey after her death.
Rest In Paradise Audrey Wells. Thank you for your talent and voice… I’m particularly grateful for the “The Hate U Give” which provoked a powerful and thoughtful and important conversation with my daughter and will continue to do so for so many. #necessary https://t.co/iJ0LS0X6EV
— Rosario Dawson (@rosariodawson) October 6, 2018
We lost Audrey Wells, one the greats yesterday, a beautiful, fierce, brave, spirited writer, mother, wife, friend and devoted Creative Advisor at the Sundance Labs. Her generosity and brilliance touched so many writers who will always remember her and the time they had together. https://t.co/UPODoItAaw
— Michelle Satter (@SundanceSatter) October 6, 2018
Terribly sad news about the death of the brilliant Audrey Wells, an incredibly talented and giving human being. In her honor, I will be donating to her most important non-profits @ACLU @PPFA @MajoritySpeaks Will you join me? -E. https://t.co/QuhgxJRPgp
— Elizabeth Perkins (@Elizbethperkins) October 5, 2018
Farewell Audrey Wells. Thank you 4 our time together Guinevere & Under the Tuscan Sun. Your radiant smile, your fierce will. to T & Brian
— Sandra Oh (@IamSandraOh) October 6, 2018
RIP Audrey Wells, thank you for the beautiful places you took us and the beautiful women you created – so warm, funny and wise. You were quietly blazing trails and being an inspiration from the moment I started screenwriting and you always will be. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/7UKAbO3pAm
— Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (@KiwiLovesYou) October 6, 2018
Amandla Stenberg, who stars in The Hate U Give, had a chance to speak about Audrey during the Hamptons International Film Festival. There, she talked about Audrey’s commitment to keeping her work honest even if that meant bringing others in.
That honesty is part of why her work has been so loved and well-received.
It was a really, really special artistic collaboration between Audrey, me, George [Tillman Jr., the film’s director], and Angie Thomas, who wrote the book. Something that was just so amazing about Audrey is she understood that she couldn’t necessarily understand this experience. She — I’m sorry — brought me in to work with her on the script because she understood that she didn’t have the experience of a black girl and she wanted to make sure that she was as authentic as possible in how she wrote the script, so she brought me and George in.
Clearly Audrey will be remembered with love. Our condolences to her friends and family.