Amandla Stenberg adds to the growing list of black women gracing the covers of September magazine issues this year with a fab cover for Variety magazine.
Her shoot was a whole vibe but I was particularly intrigued by what she had to say about inclusion in Hollywood, issues around colorisim and gender dynamics. As a matter of fact had no idea they wanted her for the role of Shuri in Black Panther.
Read below via Variety on why she turned it down:
As one of the only biracial young actresses on studio short lists, Amandla Stenberg feels the pressure to do the right thing.
When Marvel came knocking for “Black Panther” a few years ago, Stenberg agreed to an audition. But she eventually chose not to pursue the role of Shuri, because she believed a darker-skinned actress should play the breakout part that went to Letitia Wright.
“That was not a space that I should have taken up,” says Stenberg, who is 19. “And it was so exhilarating to see it fulfilled by people who should have been a part of it and who deserved it and who were right for it. I just wasn’t”
Her memories of working on movie sets are generally positive, even though she concedes she has experienced moments of racism and sexism in the industry. “I can speak to certain events, but I don’t necessarily wAnt to. – she says
Stenberg is hopeful about the change she’s witnessing with the industry’s recent wave of inclusive storytelling — from “Black Panther” to “Crazy Rich Asians,” both box office successes. “As a kid, it was nearly impossible for me to find roles that felt empowered, that were not victim roles, that were fully dimensional, that didn’t serve any white male plotline,” she says. “So I worked less because I had no interest in doing something that would force me to compromise my own power or just make myself subservient to something I didn’t necessarily mesh with.”
She’s motivated to work on projects that open more doors for women of color. She talks about how the media often lumps her in with two other biracial actresses, Yara Shahidi (“Grown-ish”) and Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”). “Something interesting has happened with me and Yara and Zendaya — there is a level of accessibility of being biracial that has afforded us attention in a way that I don’t think would have been afforded to us otherwise,” Stenberg says. “Me and Yara and Zendaya are perceived in the same way, I guess, because we are lighter-skinned black girls and we fill this interesting place of being accessible to Hollywood and accessible to white people in a way that darker-skinned girls are not afforded the same privilege.”
About being considered a “woke” activist
In 2015, she made headlines when she posted a high-school project on Tumblr — a video titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.” She took issue with white celebrities like Kylie Jenner for appropriating black culture without using their platform to shed a light on real-world problems such as police brutality.
But she resents the notion that she’s putting herself in a box. “I think the media placed a certain label on me,” Stenberg says. “It was around the time the word ‘woke’ started being used a lot, and I think the media jumped to placing this label or image on me of being this young woke activist. Sometimes people act like it’s a self-titled label that I gave to myself, but it’s not. I’m only one person and don’t want to claim to be any sort of savior or representation of all of black womanhood, which I think the white media has a tendency to oversimplify, when it’s really a complicated experience.”
She also said that – “The most powerful thing you can do is be yourself and express joy and incite joy in others, so I feel more compelled than ever to do that.”
There was a lot more to her interview with Variety, head over there to read more!