18-year old American actress and singer Amandla Stenberg popularly known for her roles as Madeline Whittier in “Everything, Everything” and Rue in “The Hunger Games” is one of the cover stars for #TheIconsIssue of Teen Vogue.
Amandla is interviewed by Janelle Monáe in a conversation that takes on racism, real-time reactions to the election and a mutual love of sci-fi. She also shares why she ditched her iPhone for the sake of her mental health.
Amandla Stenberg in Janelle Monáe’s words, is a young girl who is going to be a beacon of hope for not only young black girls but all human beings who are just uncomfortable speaking out and walking in their truth.
Her name, (literally) means power and she’s all about Girl power and Black Girl Magic.On where she was during the election:
Amandla said she was shooting a scene in Where Hands Touch, a film about a biracial girl growing up during the Holocaust.
“In the scene, my character’s papers get taken away by a Nazi officer and the officer yells in her face, basically telling her that she does not belong in her own country. An actor playing a Nazi soldier took out his phone to refresh the news and announced that Trump was president.”
“I was actually seeing this come out of the mouth out of an actor dressed in a Nazi uniform. Immediately, I excused myself because I felt like I couldn’t breathe anymore. I started sobbing. It was shocking. It made me really question how we could reach a point where our country is so divided.”
“The director, Amma Asante, came to check on me, and she told me that progress is like a coil you have to go down in order to circle back up again. That’s how it’s worked throughout history. That’s how it will continue to work.”
She also talked about why she ditched her iPhone for a flip phone.
She said, “Amid all of the chaos in the world right now, it’s so important that everyone actively works to preserve their mental health so that we’re able to heal and create change.”
“I got rid of my iPhone, and that was essential in preserving my mental health. Now I have a flip phone that I just use to talk to people and hear their actual voices.”
“I’m worried about the mental health effects of smartphones and social media on kids because it is one large social experiment that we don’t know the outcome of.”
“I see a lot of people around my age who are really unhappy or experiencing disconnection from reality because they base so much of their existence on the Internet and on their interactions with people they might not even know.”
“It creates such unreal expectations for what we think our lives should be. I feel like now is the time to stand tall and feel 100 percent comfortable in my skin even though I’m occupying a space that I know historically wasn’t built for me.”
When asked what was going through her mind as she was considering the role she played in the recent movie, Everything, Everything, She said:
“I kind of wrote it off initially because I figured it was one of those instances where I was receiving a script for a YA romance project that was intended for a white actress.”
“I thought maybe they’d float the idea of casting it in a more diverse manner but that ultimately it wouldn’t end up going that direction, because that’s happened to me a lot.”
“Then I realized that this project was based on a book written by a black woman and that the casting was intentionally diverse. I’d never seen a story like this made for an interracial couple.”
“I thought it would be really powerful to see a black girl [lead] character like Maddy who is joyous and creative and dimensional specifically marketed to teenagers and young adults. We don’t always get to see black women carrying that energy.”
Read the full interview on Teen Vogue.