Amandla Stenberg Talks About The Hate U Give And The Need For More Diversity In Hollywood

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Amandla Stenberg has evolved immensely as an actress since portraying Rue in The Hunger Games. At 14, she was offered to play Rue in the movie adaptation of her favorite book; currently, at 19, she is enthusiastically representing the biracial community and advocating for inclusion.

In October 2018, Stenberg’s most current project, The Hate U Give will premiere in theaters. Based on the best-selling 2017 book by debut author, Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give is a fictional depiction of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Centering on Starr Carter, the female protagonist who witnesses her childhood friend die as a result of police brutality, the book explores the intricacies and experiences of a black community following this event.

After reading the book, Stenberg told The Root, “When I first read the book, I never felt so accurately represented by something because I don’t think we get, very often such fresh three dimensional portrayals of black women and girls.”

Like the character Starr, Stenberg also grew up in a black, and traveled nearly two hours to attend a private school with predominantly white students.

Stenberg relates to Starr’s dilemma, saying she understands “having to navigate these different environments, [and] compromising herself.” Recognizing the marginalization of the black community, Stenberg offers up a strong representation of a young, black woman and as Director, George Tillman Jr. says, she’s “in the middle of this movement.”

For instance, by working closely with screenwriter Audrey Wells, Stenberg meshed her voice and experiences with Wells’ work. Stenberg says, “I would go to sessions with Audrey in order to provide my experience as a black girl because Audrey is white…Anything that struck me as inauthentic or not accurate to me and Starr’s experience, I would communicate it. From early on, the nature of the project was collaborative. I didn’t feel like I was just fulfilling the role of an actor. I felt like I was doing a lot more.”

Infusing her voice into the screenwriting, Stenberg is advocating for inclusion and representation in an artform that has continued to marginalize people of color. Excited about The Hate U Give, Stenberg perceives the film—and a multitude of other current projects—as a turning point in Hollywood; it’s a step away from white, patriarchy and Stenberg is ready for diversity and inclusion in cinema to prompt empathy and action from its viewers.