Whether you know her as Rue on “The Hunger Games,” or Madeline Whittier on “Everything, Everything,” Amandla Stenberg is a force to be reckoned with. Besides being a killer actress, Amandla is fearless when it comes to addressing race and sexism.
She may be young, but Stenberg has grown to be a powerful voice for the future. Stenberg has proven to be a role model for her multiple talents, activism, and grit, making her our #WCW.
By: Jason Suerte Felipe
Born in Los Angeles, California, Stenberg started her career doing modeling shorts for Disney at the age of four. In 2011, she appeared in her first feature film, Columbia. Just one year later, Stenberg’s hit her big breakthrough when she cast a role of Rue for The Hunger Games. Amandla continues to act in her recent film, “Everything, Everything” and has also began her singing career, releasing her debut single, “Let My Baby Stay.”
We may love her for her versatility and various talents. But we absolutely adore Stenberg’s advocacy for black culture and feminism.
Being a woman of color, Stenberg recognizes the importance of black representation in film and media.
Want to get to know more amazing actresses like Amandla? Here are 5 things you didn’t know about Nicole Ari Parker.
When asked by TeenVogue what she learned playing a young, black woman on The Hunger Games, Stenberg replied,
“It was when I was 12 and I got cast in The Hunger Games, and people called me the N-word and said that the death of my character, Rue, would be less sad because I was black. That was the first moment I realized being black was such a crucial part of my identity in terms of the way that I was perceived and how it would affect any line of work that I wanted to pursue.”
Stenberg also opened up about learning to love her blackness, including her natural hair. She encourages women to embrace all parts of themselves – hair and all.
As she explained, for black women, it can be difficult to learn to love and find comfort in natural hair. While, society predominantly advertises straight, silky hair as beautiful, Stenberg sees the same beauty in her kinky, curly, natural hair.
“I’m not tired of talking about hair in the sense of it being an empowering thing. I know when I used to chemically straighten mine, I did it because I wasn’t comfortable with my natural hair. I thought it was too poofy, too kinky. So for me, personally, when I started wearing it natural, it felt like I was blossoming because I was letting go of all the dead hair and all the parts of me that had rejected my natural state. But, you know, it’s not like that for all black girls. Some have their hair straight because that’s just how they like it, and it doesn’t mean that they accept themselves any less.”
Check out these basics for natural hair care.
In 2015, Stenberg schooled everyone about cultural appropriation when she uploaded a powerful video on her Tumblr entitled, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.”
Stenberg dropped wisdom on the history of black hairstyles and how it led to a mass appropriation to black culture.
“Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.”
Debra Cartwright is also a major source of inspiration for loving your natural hair. Learn more about her natural hair journey here.
When asked by TeenVogue what she though of the impact and attention her video made, Stenberg said,
“I really didn’t think it was going to be so controversial. And then to have the label of “revolutionary” pinned on you afterward felt really daunting. I kind of had a moment with myself, like, ‘OK. Is this what you want to do? Do you actually want to talk about issues? Is it worth it?‘ There are still moments now where I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is a lot of pressure.’ But it’s worth it, because when people come to me and say, ‘I’m more comfortable in my identity because of you,’ or ‘I feel like you’ve given me a voice,’ that’s the most powerful thing ever.”
We love Stenberg’s go-to attitude and ability to talk about controversial topics and issues. She encourages us to embrace our girl power and work together to better ourselves and our future.
“I have a friend who has this thing called “shine theory,” which basically says that when you become friends with other powerful, like-minded people, you all just shine brighter.”
We can’t wait to see what else she has in store!
How do you show your girl power? Share with us in the comments!