Actor Tristan Wilds’ role in British pop singer Adele’s “Hello” music video was no accident. The video’s director, Xavier Dolan, revealed the singer purposely cast Wilds to make a statement about ongoing police brutality in America.
Dolan spoke to Vulture about the clip, which now has 1.8 billion views. He suggested the “Red Tails” star for the lead role based on his work on “The Wire.”
“It was her desire that we wouldn’t cast a Caucasian male in this, which I thought was great,” Dolan explained. “She called me and said, ‘This is what I think we should do,’ and if my memory serves me right … I’m going to be honest, it’s tragic not to be able to remember what exact conflict was on the news at that moment because there are so many incidents of police brutality.”
Entertainment Weekly reported production on “Hello” occurred in September 2015 and several incidents of police brutality happened just one month prior, including two reported by Atlanta Black Star. On Aug. 7, officers opened fire on 14-year-old Radazz Hearns, hitting him seven times after claiming he tried to run away. Then on Aug. 19, police shot and killed 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey at a protest condemning another police murder of a Black man in 2014.
“[Adele] called me right after one of those incidents of police brutality, and I wish I could remember the name,” Dolan said to Vulture. “I wish it wouldn’t be as hard to remember because there wouldn’t be so many different instances of those incidents. They’re disgusting.”
The 27-year-old director went on to praise Adele for acknowledging police brutality in a “natural way.”
“It was not opportunistic, she didn’t want to be hip or anything,” Dolan said. “She was just like, ‘I’m concerned with the reality of the tensions between authorities and the Black community and I want to send a message out there.’
“I thought it was beautiful. I wish that it was my idea, but it wasn’t.”