AMANDL A STENBERG
What can you tell us about your role in ya drama The Hate U Give?
Starr is a girl growing up in a low-income black neighbourhood, watching Fresh Prince with her friends, going to a white private school across town, so constantly navigating the code-switch of being in those black and white spaces, and how she fits into each one. Then when her best friend is shot and killed by police in front of her after a routine traffic stop, it galvanises a decision she has to make, in terms of whether or not she should speak up and use her voice. She has to make the decision to stand up to bias and discrimination.
How was your audition?
It was a kind of backwards process. I was attached to the project before the book it is based on was even published. I’d gotten a copy of the manuscript through a friend of mine who is a Young Adult author. It was unfinished — there were still typos in it! — but the heart and essence of it captured me immediately. I had never felt so accurately represented. I ended up getting attached to it as a way to help the process of production. Then about a year later, when the book had become an amazing success, they asked me to come in and re-audition. It went fantastically and it was reconfirmed I was the one for the job!
What was your first acting role?
The first thing I ever did was a commercial for a doll called Fivesies. I don’t think they were very successful. It was five dolls that were connected together. In the commercial there’s a blurry figure of me rocking the dolls back and forth.
Do you have a dream director, or project?
I’d want to work with Ryan Coogler. Steve Mcqueen would be amazing. Something I’d love to do is a Kill Bill movie — when I was a kid, I always felt like I was the daughter of [Vivica A. Fox’s character] Copperhead.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I would assume me, right? [laughs] There’s this amazing little girl named Lidya Jewett who played the younger version of me in The Darkest Minds. She’s filled with talent.
Do you have a favourite film?
Probably Do The Right Thing.
Who would win in a fight — a horse sized duck, or one hundred duck-sized horses?
I think a hundred duck-sized horses. I think the torrential wave would overwhelm the duck.
THE HATE U GIVE IS IN CINEMAS FROM 2 NOVEMBER
Above: The Hate U Give. Here: The Darkest Minds
Amandla Stenberg, photographed exclusively for Empire in Los Angeles on 7 June 2018.