Dazed recently did a new interview and photoshoot with Amandla Stenberg (Rue) where we get some real insight into the things important to Amandla. Check out the photos and excerpt from the interview :
This spring, an LA teenager’s school project ignited the internet. A charm offensive titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”, the five-minute video deftly unpacked the thorny issue of cultural appropriation with a nuance that few would be able to nail. Raising an eyebrow at culprits like Iggy Azalea and Katy Perry treating black culture as a pick’n’mix stand at the multiplex, the clip, uploaded by 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg, announced a whip-smart new voice that was not to be fucked with.
Three years after she shot to global prominence as Rue in The Hunger Games (2012), the actress is leading a wave of young, hyper-informed trendsetters with a fresh and fearless take on today’s defining issues. Last month, she echoed the sentiments of her school project in a comment on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram. In response to the pouty reality princess’s latest look – cornrows – Stenberg wrote, “when u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism”. Jenner retorted, “go and hang out w Jaden.” (Stenberg attended prom with Jenner’s ex, Jaden Smith.)
Yet Stenberg cuts through the noise. Using social platforms like Tumblr and Twitter, she’s always set her own agenda in terms of what’s important and newsworthy, regardless of what mainstream media is championing. She uses Instagram, but not just for thirst trap selfies or to promote her personal brand. More than anything else, she’s someone who refuses to stay quiet. “I think people discredit teenagers and how wise they can be,” says Stenberg. “Sometimes I meet teenagers who are much wiser than many adults I’ve met, because they haven’t let any insecurities or doubts about themselves get in the way of their thoughts.”
Stenberg refuses to be quoted on Kylie-gate in the wake of the resulting media frenzy. She would prefer to move on – after all, she’s made her point. Meeting her a couple of weeks before the Jenner ‘feud’ makes headlines, the actress wears a houndstooth shirt and pillar box-red lipstick, sitting in her favourite cafe in Culver City, on the west side of Los Angeles. She’s all smiles, despite recovering from an intense bout of flu. The doctor gave her tiger balm, and told her to reduce any stress in her life. Has she been stressed? “Not exactly,” she says. “I don’t think it’s negative pressure; it’s me being excited about moving forward and things evolving and becoming bigger in my career. But balancing school and work can be really stressful.” She says her mum encourages her to take time for herself, and she recently had a ‘sound bath’, a guided meditation in which glass bowls are played at various frequencies.
But the way things are going, there’ll be fewer opportunities for Stenberg to perfect her lotus pose. She’ll be shooting two indie films later this year (she’s not allowed to discuss them yet), and has been linked with the lead role in Looking for Alaska, a 2016-slated adaptation of John Green’s wild young adult novel that’s been likened to a modern-day Catcher in the Rye. When casting for the role began, #WOCforAlaskaYoung started trending on Twitter, with people calling for a non-white lead in the film and pointing out the lack of diversity in teen movies. Green got behind the campaign, and Lorde supported Stenberg’s bid for the role via Twitter.
For Stenberg and her community of friends – Tavi Gevinson, Willow and Jaden Smith, Lorde, Kiernan Shipka – it’s not enough to excel in your chosen line of work, be it acting, singing or publishing. What matters is inspiring others, sharing information and starting a dialogue. Far from the apathetic millennials of media lore, these kids have more in common with the politicised youth of the late 60s. “It’s so inspiring to see someone in the entertainment industry be vocal about critiquing it,” says Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson of Stenberg. “I’m lucky I can talk to her about being a young, independent, powerhouse woman – I think a lot about the time she compared losing your sense of self in this world to being unable to uncross your eyes.”
Read the rest at Dazed