Amandla Stenberg is quickly becoming one of the most outspoken and influential young actresses in Hollywood. The Hunger Games actress, who went viral last year with her video on cultural appropriation “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows," sat down with Solange Knowles for an empowering conversation about race, beauty, and self-acceptance for Teen Vogue.
“I think that as a black girl you grow up internalizing all these messages that say you shouldn’t accept your hair or your skin tone or your natural features, or that you shouldn’t have a voice, or that you aren’t smart,” Amandla says in the cover story. “I feel like the only way to fight that is to just be yourself on the most genuine level and to connect with other black girls who are awakening and realizing that they’ve been trying to conform.”
The 17-year-old had no idea her video on black hair would go viral and have such an impact. "I really didn’t think it was going to be so controversial. And then to have the label of ‘revolutionary’ pinned on you afterward felt really daunting. I kind of had a moment with myself, like, ‘OK. Is this what you want to do? Do you actually want to talk about issues? Is it worth it?'" Although the label comes with a lot of pressure, she says it’s worth the responsibility. “But it’s worth it because when people come to me and say, ‘I’m more comfortable in my identity because of you,’ or ‘I feel like you’ve given me a voice,’ that’s the most powerful thing ever.”
Amandla jokes that her white friends often ask her for “permission” to wear certain hair styles. “I have many white friends who come up to me and they’re like, ‘Amandla, so this weekend I’m going to go out, and I was wondering if it’s OK if I could wear cornrows just on Saturday?’ I’m tired of talking about who can have whichever style. Because I’ve said my thing.”
Amandla is definitely a force to be reckoned with! We can’t wait to see what this young game changer has planned in 2016.