Amandla Stenberg, most famous for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, is only 16 years old and has already had amazing success. She has appeared in various films, television shows and commercials, but she is especially impressive for a different reason. Despite being so young, Stenberg uses her stardom and influence to teach the masses about important topics such as cultural appropriation, black culture, feminism and more.
Whereas other child stars spend their time causing trouble and flaunting their fortunes, Stenberg chooses instead to educate herself and others on society’s focal issues. Here are five times Stenberg has been an incredible role model for women both young and old.
1. When she gave everyone a much-needed lesson on black culture
A few months ago, Stenberg made headlines after posting a YouTube video titled “Don’t Cash Crop on My Cornrows” that was originally made for a school project. In the video, she discusses the way black culture has been abused by privileged white musicians as a way to be “edgy,” not to acknowledge it or celebrate it as it should be. Her argument was classy and well-structured, with examples as proof and an analysis of white privilege in relation to the various incidents of police brutality this year and the Black Lives Matter movement. Watching this video, you definitely will feel like you are listening not to a child but rather a very intelligent young woman.
2. The way she responded to criticism of the video
After various news organizations reported her video as a criticism of the artists that she cited as examples of appropriators, Stenberg did not let her powerful words remain misconstrued as just a petty criticism. Setting the record straight, she took to Twitter to directly call out these organizations, saying “the way you are presenting this video is misleading and creates conflict instead of constructive convo!” If that wasn’t brave enough, Stenberg went on to turn this unfair reporting into a lesson on the media’s coverage of the wrong issues.
So unfortunate to see the media pitting women against eachother in 2015. Ladies, our love for eachother will overcome all trivial nonsense.
— Amandla (@amandlastenberg) April 16, 2015
3. When she joined the Black Lives Matter movement
Unlike the majority of other celebrities, who remained silent on incidents of police brutality and racism across the nation, Stenberg chose to speak up.
Don't condemn our anger. Don't denounce our pain as savage. What's savage is the cruel inhumanity and brutality of the police. Condemn that.
— Amandla (@amandlastenberg) April 28, 2015
This tweet sums up the frustrations of an entire community, receiving more than 20,000 retweets, and contrasts sharply with the silence of all the privileged people who partake in black culture only when it’s cool and convenient. Way to be a good example, Amandla!
4. Her dedication to charity
From a young age, Stenberg has been an ambassador for No Kid Hungry, an organization that works to end childhood hunger in the United States. In addition to her hands-on charity work, Stenberg often uses her Twitter and Instagram to spread awareness about the organization and the topic of hunger. She also supports the Ubuntu Education Fund, which provides health and educational support to children of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It’s one thing for a young starlet to attend events for charity, but Stenberg seems to actually care about these issues and is deeply involved in her work for them.
5. Her class throughout the Kylie Jenner Instagram feud
Stenberg already proved she is not afraid to call people out for cultural appropriation, but she still made headlines after commenting on one of Kylie Jenner’s pictures three days ago, in which Jenner had her hair in cornrows.
Stenberg felt that Jenner was doing what many other privileged celebrities have done: using the glamorous parts of black culture and ignoring the rest. Stenberg voiced this opinion and immediately received backlash from people who tried to reduce her important statements to just a petty “Instagram feud.” Her response? Another one of the well-written replies that she, unfortunately, has had to master.
End the "angry black girl" narrative. It's just another attempt to undermine certain perspectives. I have strong opinions. I am not angry.
— Amandla (@amandlastenberg) July 13, 2015