Amandla Stenberg isn’t your typical teen. At the age of 17, she’s already appeared in the 14th-highest grossing film in America (The Hunger Games), attended her first Met Gala, written her own comic book (Niobe: She Is Life) and graced the cover of Teen Vogue, for which she was interviewed by no less than Solange Knowles. Oh, and she was in Lemonade. Hailed as “one of the most incendiary voices of her generation” by Dazed magazine, last year the actress made headlines with her school project “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” a brilliant, comprehensive outline of cultural appropriation from blacks in America. Amandla, who identifies as pansexual, has also become an LGBTQ icon.
“I mean, unfortunately or not unfortunately, take it as you will, when you are a marginalized person or a woman of color and/or someone who’s a part of the LGBTQ community, your acts become politicized, just by being yourself,” Amandla said in a March 2016 interview with Interview. “Because we’re not completely accepting of all different kinds of human beings. So that’s been an interesting dynamic for me to navigate. By being myself, I’m doing something political.”
In true Amandla fashion, the burgeoning filmmaker (she’s headed to NYU to study the art in the fall) committed another politicized act/was herself a few days ago. The activist took time out of her precious hours before prom to dole out advice to Rookie magazine readers via video. Her words will perhaps resonate most strongly with black and LGBTQ audiences: “I still have moments where I’m like ah my hair’s too big…but then I realize that that’s actually not me talking, that’s all of the preconceived, internalized messages that I’ve been fed since birth that have told me my hair isn’t beautiful” and “I cannot separate my gender, from my race, from my sexuality,” she shares. Nonetheless, Amandla’s constant call for identity-affirmation and self-confidence is chicken soup for everyone’s soul, because she is nothing if not inclusive. “You are real. Your identity is real. What you’re fighting for — your words, your power — that’s all real,” Amandla declares. Watch the full video above and prepare to feel seriously inspired.
And for even more Amandla power, revisit this:
[ via i-D ]