Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton star in the upcoming romance "The Sun Is Also a Star."
The film, based on author Nicola Yoon's 2016 bestselling novel, centers on two young adults who fall for each other during a day in New York City, and weaves in complex topics like immigration, deportation and identity.
The stars told "Good Morning America" about the way in which the film pushes the boundaries of a traditional teenage romance.
"I think because we're dealing with the topic of cultural heritage and immigration, it's not something that we often see, especially in the category of the young adult romance," Shahidi said. "You have two characters who come from such specific upbringings and households and I think that informs the love story rather than the love story being something separate from that."
Shahidi's character, Natasha, faces deportation the very next day in the film. It's an element that Shahidi said provokes important discussions between the characters.
"That becomes a major theme in terms of the question of belonging — the question of how we express our heritage and our communities," she said.
Melton spoke about what he hopes viewers will take away from the film.
"Beyond the face of certain social issues that we see on the news, this film goes beyond that and humanizes what we see with immigration and diversity, and really gives life and empathy for these characters in the story," Melton said.
"We don't always have much empathy, and oftentimes we don't view people as a part of our extended communities but rather just somebody that does not belong here," Shahidi added.
.@YaraShahidi and @charlesmmelton tell us all about filming their new movie #TheSunIsAlsoAStar on the streets of New York, how it's not your typical romantic comedy and how it all started with a Pop Tart. pic.twitter.com/KcDAIfkJyi— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 15, 2019
The actress said it was important that the film's storyline stayed true to Yoon's book.
"As somebody who absolutely loves books," Shahidi said, "I think a book is just a scared thing, so it was important to both Charles and I, having read the book first, even though there are some obvious departures from the novel, that we maintain the essence of it. So that people that read the book enjoy it, people who haven't read the book enjoy it and then want to go read the book."
"The Sun Is Also a Star" hits theaters Friday.