Amandla Sten­berg

Girlfriend - - STAN GIRL -

Amandla Sten­berg has come a long way since steal­ing our hearts as baby Rue in The Hunger Games. The 20-year-old’s star power has since been ce­mented in films like The Dark­est Minds. The ac­tor even made an ap­pear­ance in Bey­oncé’s mu­sic video for ‘Le­mon­ade’ along­side Zen­daya. Can we be besties al­ready?! Amandla’s lat­est film, The Hate U Give, is gonna be your sum­mer ob­ses­sion – and we got all the deets.

What in­ter­ested you in the role of Starr Carter?

I ini­tially heard about this amaz­ing book by Angie Thomas from a mu­tual friend. My friend had re­ceived a copy of the man­u­script be­fore it was on the best-seller list – ac­tu­ally be­fore it was even pub­lished – and had read it and told me how good it was. At the time, there was a lot of buzz about it be­cause it’s ob­vi­ously a pow­er­ful and im­por­tant story. I re­ceived an early copy of the man­u­script and then I heard around the same time that the film was be­ing made and that they were look­ing for some­one to play Starr, so I chased the part re­ally hard. I was ba­si­cally at­tached from the first stages of pro­duc­tion. Then, about a year after, the pro­duc­ers asked me to come in and au­di­tion of­fi­cially for the part to reaf­firm that I was the right per­son to play Starr.

Do you re­late to Starr’s life at all?

I do. I felt I was able to ref­er­ence a lot of my own life when it came to the themes in the book and in the script, be­cause I had the ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing up in LA in a black com­mu­nity and go­ing to a white pri­vate school. It made me think about race at a young age. I had never seen any­thing in a script that re­flected my own ex­pe­ri­ence so ac­cu­rately.

What was it like work­ing with the cast?

I loved work­ing with ev­ery­one! I’m a huge fan of Regina Hall, who plays my mother, and Issa Rae – ob­vi­ously it was black girl magic! Not only was there a com­pletely pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment but also they were sup­port­ive and had my back. They filled up my whole heart. Rus­sell Hornsby, who plays my fa­ther, be­came a parental fig­ure to me, and would of­ten give me guid­ance. Work­ing with Com­mon, who plays my un­cle, was also great. There were a lot of laughs when he was around! He cracked me up and had so much en­ergy when we got to­gether. It was amaz­ing.

You’ve be­come a role model and ac­tivist. What is­sues do you feel are im­por­tant as a young woman?

I am al­ways think­ing about how I can ap­ply my ac­tivism to the world. I know that sounds clichéd, but there are so many prob­lems right now that we are deal­ing with, it can all seem over­whelm­ing. We can try to act on ev­ery sin­gle thing, but what is re­ally pow­er­ful right now is that we’re liv­ing in a time in which peo­ple are be­com­ing aware and more po­lit­i­cally en­gaged, and that is be­com­ing the norm as op­posed to ac­tivists be­ing the out­liers.

What ad­vice do you have for young peo­ple?

I urge peo­ple to take the time to see how they’re func­tion­ing on an in­ter­per­sonal ba­sis, how they in­ter­act with oth­ers and care for them. What I mean is that I would like peo­ple to ask them­selves: how are they sup­port­ing the black men and women in their life? How are they sup­port­ing the poor peo­ple in their life? How are they be­ing in­clu­sive of all the black peo­ple in their life, even the old peo­ple and the young peo­ple? I think it’s a re­ally im­por­tant time to fo­cus on com­mu­nity in gen­eral and in our in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships to look at how we af­fect each other on a mi­cro­scopic scale. It’s im­por­tant to be ac­tive in the com­mu­nity, to be kind and com­pas­sion­ate on a daily ba­sis.

Who would you say are your role mod­els?

Def­i­nitely my big­gest role model would be my mum. She is so smart, spir­i­tual and very grounded. I love my sis­ters, and now I have a bunch of work sis­ters as well. Ali­cia Keys has be­come a re­ally close friend of mine and so has Janelle Monáe. They are in­cred­i­ble women who un­der­stand that life can be tough [in Hol­ly­wood] and they of­fer their sup­port, hav­ing al­ready gone through ev­ery­thing I am go­ing through now them­selves.

“Def­i­nitely my big­gest role model would be my mum.”

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