Kian Lawley: YouTuber says racism scandal made him a ‘better human’

Adam White
Kian Lawley attends the Streamy Awards in December 2019: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

YouTube star Kian Lawley has said he is a “better human” following a racism scandal that almost derailed his career.

Lawley was poised for a mainstream breakthrough in 2018 when he was cast in the film adaptation of the YA novel The Hate U Give.

After shooting his scenes, he was fired and replaced by Riverdale actor KJ Apa after footage emerged in which he used racist slurs.

Speaking to BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, Lawley said that he found the criticism “scary”, and didn’t know how badly the scandal would impact his career.

“I messed up in my life, and nobody’s perfect,” he said. “I’ve never claimed to be perfect, and I never want to claim to be perfect. I tried to get through it as best as possible. Not everyone’s gonna be on my side.

“I just took everything as it came,” he continued. “I was in the wrong so I didn’t, you know. I didn’t expect anything. I learned a lot … I took a break from YouTube. I took a break to try and re-establish myself, re-find myself and figure out who I was, and who I’ve become since that time in my life.

“I just took a lot of time to realise and find myself and, you know, become a better human.”

In 2018, Lawley said he was “deeply sorry” for the video, which was shot several years prior, and said that he agreed that it would “not be appropriate” for him to remain as part of the Hate U Give cast.

He was also dropped by the powerful US talent agency CAA.