Russell Hornsby (‘The Hate U Give’): ‘Not much has changed’ in America, but there’s hope [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Police brutality has been a widely debated subject in recent years, but actor Russell Hornsby believes “the time has always been pertinent” for a movie like “The Hate U Give,” he tells Gold Derby. “If you look back as to where this country has come from historically, and where we are now, not much has changed.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

This 20th Century Fox release centers on Starr (Amandla Stenberg), an African-American teen who witnesses the death of her friend (Algee Smith) at the hands of a police officer. As she struggles with grief, she must decide whether or not to testify about the murder to a grand jury. Hornsby plays her father, Maverick, an ex-con trying to create a better life for his children.

SEE ‘The Hate U Give’ beats Oscar favorites at the Hamptons Film Festival, while ‘All Good’ and Roger Ailes doc also win

Maverick spent three years in prison for gang activity, but now he’s trying “to raise his family with as much love and as much guidance … as he possibly can.” At the same time, he wants “to be a pillar of his community,” the mostly poor, predominantly black neighborhood of Garden Heights where he owns a convenience store. He hopes to instill his children with “a sense of duty and a sense of purpose,” and with the confidence that “anything that you think you can do, you can actually do it,” a sentiment Starr takes to heart in her fight for justice.

SEE Loved by Oscars, not by critics: Can ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ follow in footsteps of ‘The Reader,’ ‘The Iron Lady,’ and more?

Hornsby sees hope for America’s future despite our history. “I think young people are … feeling more empowered,” he explains. “I think a movie like this at this time puts a lot more emphasis on speaking out, and gives them a little bit more courage in their convictions to stand up and look to be heard.”

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