Amandla Stenberg entered her teens with quite a score. At the age of 13 she was cast as Rue, the tragically young and sweet-natured tribute that Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen would take a shine to in the 2012 franchise starter The Hunger Games.
Then came a dispiriting twist: a series of griping tweets from fans of the YA novel complaining that the movie cast an African-American in the role, despite the fact that the novel clearly stated Rue was “dark-skinned.”
“[It gave] me an interesting perspective on what it’s like to be a black actress in Hollywood,” Stenberg told Yahoo Entertainment this week at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where the activist-actress was promoting two upcoming books turned movies, the racial drama The Hate U Give and the dystopian thriller The Darkest Minds.
“I very early on came head-on with that type of discrimination,” she said of the negative social media reactions. “I’ve learned since then how to navigate it and how to kind of have my defenses up against it in pursuing what I want to do.”
Stenberg said her young age at the time allowed her to more easily brush off the criticisms.
“It was challenging, but at the same time, because I was a child I had almost a purer idea of what I believed in when it came to race, and I just thought it was stupid.” She recalled thinking, “‘This doesn’t make sense. People are stupid. It says in the book she’s black!’ It was very simple to me.
“But it definitely gave me an inkling of what I was about to be coming up against.”
The Darkest Minds opens Aug. 3, while The Hate U Give will open in the fall on a date TBA.
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