Actress Amandla Stenberg on Hollywood, the fashion world and the importance of diversity

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  • 'I went to the Chanel show in Paris and I was really jet lagged - just completely out of it - and I remember stumbling in front of everyone'

    It’s not often you meet an 18-year-old so precocious that you wonder what her adult years have to come.

    You’ll recognise the actress from her role as Rue in The Hunger Games (we’re still not ready to talk about it. Sob) but the Los Angeles native has made a name for herself by not being afraid to talk about political subjects.

    Her social media post about cultural appropriation went viral and she’s been helmed as one of the pillars in the next generation of feminism (she considered herself an intersectional feminist and identifies as non-binary in her sexual orientation.)

    Basically, Amandla is going to be on the talking point of many agendas to come – and that’s why you need to get to know her now. Starring as the lead in the latest film adaptation of a best-selling young adult novel Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, Amandla, who has Danish and African-American heritage, is continuing to smash glass ceilings.

    Think about it. When have you last seen a Hollywood romantic blockbuster where a mixed race woman, and a white man, fall in love?

    If you liked The Fault In Our Stars and (if we’re being more noughties about it) A Walk To Remember, you’ll love this.

    We caught up with the star to ask her the questions that can apparently make you fall in love with any one by helping you get to know them, fast. We’ve already asked Lily Collins and Chris Evans, so let’s see what she has to say, shall we?

    Who would your dream dinner guest be?  

    Oh, man, dead or alive? Oh god, that’s so hard. Honestly, after his recent album I would love to speak to Kendrick Lamar. There are many more historical figures that I would of course love to speak to but he’s been on my mind. I want to talk to him about his most recent album, I think there’s really important and truthful things he says about his place in the world, he talks about race and what it’s like navigating in a very corporate environment.

    Can you remember when you last sang to yourself?

    Probably this morning. I sing all the time, I’m always singing out loud. I was probably singing Loyalty from the Kendrick album.

    amandla stenberg

    Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

    Do you remember the last time you sang to someone else?

    The last time I sang for somebody else would probably be last night, on the set of The Darkest Minds when me and Skylan Brooks were singing the song Dilemma by Nelly. We were belting it out.

    Can you tell us an embarrassing moment in your life?

    I went to the Chanel show in Paris and I was really jet lagged, just completely out of it, and I remember walking through the entire room of the most elite fashion people in the world, and stumbling in front of everyone, and then regrouping and trying to make it look like it was intentional. Of course, it wasn’t happening. I didn’t fall to the ground, but it was definitely a close one. And I was in very close proximity to Anna Wintour.

    amandla stenberg

    Doane Gregory

    For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

    I feel grateful for so many things but right now, it’s being able to channel all my creative energy into doing something that feels big and important.

    This is a very ambitious question, but can you try and tell us your life story in 30 seconds?

    I was born in Santa Monica, California. I grew up in Baldwin Hills in a household with a Danish father and a mom who is African American from the Bronx. I had a dog up until 11, who was my same age. I went to elementary school and had three best friends. By the time I got out of middle school, I had been in The Hunger Games, and then I went to high school and I had a lot of crushes on a lot of different people, and I was very awkward and uncomfortable, and I found out I could like certain music and I could like movies and that led to me realising that I could use the public platform that I had to help people feel less alone and more represented. Then I applied to NYU and I got in, I graduated from high school, then I started getting all these opportunities to be in very big movies. I deferred my place to NYU for two years, and now here I am, working my butt off, having a ball of a time.

    amandla stenberg

    Doane Gregory

    Do you have a secret hunch about how you might die?

    I actually do sometimes have a secret hunch about how I might die. I think it’ll be in a way that will maybe, I don’t know, I think it might be a death that will maybe have some weird impact.

    If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any quality or ability, what would it be?

    Definitely an ability to fly. I don’t think I would even necessarily want to go to any particular destination, I would just want to know what it would be like to be in the air.

    If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

    I don’t think I’d want to know anything because I feel like when you know things it gets in the way.

    Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time that you haven’t done yet?

    Yeah, I want to direct a movie one day.

    What’s the greatest accomplishment of your life so far?

    Not losing sight of what’s real.

    What do you value most in a friendship?

    The ability to be completely honest.

    What’s your most treasured memory?

    I feel like my most treasured memories are my childhood ones of walking my dog and riding bikes.

    What kind of dog was he?

    His name was Basil. He was a chow-shepherd mix, so he kind of looked like a German Shepherd but fluffier and smaller.

    What’s your most terrible memory?

    I think one of the hardest things in life is losing things, so my most terrible memories are probably losing people.

    Can you complete this sentence:  I wish I had someone with whom I could share…

    What if I’m not wishing for someone because I already have them?

    When did you last cry in front of another person?

    I last cried in front of another person probably last week. I think crying is really important. And so if I have the impulse to cry, I will go with it, because I think one of the most unhealthy things you can do is bottle up feelings like that.

    Do you remember the last time you cried to yourself and why?

    Last time I cried to myself has to have been when I was watching Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind as it made me think of relationships and love.

    Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. Everyone in it is safe so what would you run back to go save and why?

    I’d probably save the stuffed animals that I’ve had since I was really little.

    Everything, Everything is in cinemas from this Friday August 18th

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