Screenwriter and director Audrey Wells died on Thursday after a long and private battle with cancer, according to her representatives at United Talent Agency. She was 58 years old.
Wells had a long and celebrated career in Hollywood, penning such films as “Under the Tuscan Sun,” which she also directed, as well as “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” “The Kid,” “Shall We Dance” and she adapted “The Hate U Give,” which was released on Friday by Fox, for the big screen.
“Over the last five and 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,” Wells’ husband Brian Larky said in a statement. “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.”
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“Audrey was a beloved client and, far more importantly, a wonderful friend. It was impossible not to fall in love with her and the passion that brought her stories to life,” said UTA co-president David Kramer in a statement. “The strong, independent female characters she shaped resonate today more than ever and will be a part of her legacy always. We will miss her amazing, spirit, creativity and the love she gave us. She was truly special.”
Wells was a lifelong feminist whose vibrant, creative voice frequently focused on strong female characters.
“The Hate U Give” tells the story of Starr Carter, a poor black high schooler who attends a mostly white, prep school. Her world is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
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“We are simply heartbroken. Audrey’s was a voice of empowerment and courage, and her words will live on through the strong, determined female characters she brought to life,” Fox said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Brian, Tatiana, and all of Audrey’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Wells was born in San Francisco, and her early career included work as a disc jockey at jazz station KJAZ-FM as well as public radio in remote bush stations in the Alaskan Arctic, which she said gave her something to write about when she got to film school. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree at UC Berkeley and a Masters of Fine Arts from UCLA.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Audrey’s favorite nonprofits, The Feminist Majority Foundation, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
She is survived by her daughter, Tatiana, and her husband Brian Larky.