I’ve kind of been an Amandla Stenberg fangirl for some time now, ever since she first popped up on my radar as wide-eyed, scene stealing Rue in The Hunger Games. I remember the backlash that she — a child at the time — faced from ridiculous fans who didn’t understand why Rue had to be portrayed by a Black girl. Almost a decade later, the talent and coolest 18-year-old on the planet, has dominated film, music and social consciousness by reminding America that there is simply no one way to be Black.
I spoke with Amandla this week in time for the release of Everything, Everything for CASSIUS, in which she stars as the brilliant teen, Maddy who falls in love with the boy next door, but is completely sanitized from the outside world thanks to a rare immunodeficiency disease. And even more exciting, as lovers of Dirty Dancing, and the roster of whimsical romance classics, we finally get to see ourselves on the screen. A Black girl being desirable, and exceptionally intelligent, and a do-gooder, and head in the clouds in love.
Midway through the interview, I thanked her for being such a great role model for girls in general, especially multicultural girls. She allows a space where there is no pressure to choose, there’s no fetishizing, and there’s no diminishing. She gushed (we did a lot of that on this call), and shared:
“I’d never seen a biracial girl who just got to be a biracial girl. She’s just being herself and I think it’s rare that we get to have Black female characters that aren’t extremely racialized or don’t have a plot line that’s contingent upon their race.”
I cried the entire time while watching Everything, Everything. I’ve seriously become my mother. Hope you will check out the film, and the full interview at CASSIUS right here.