In 2015, Amandla Stenberg was one of the biggest proponents of #BlackGirlMagic. The 17-year-old Hunger Games star is keeping up the social activism for 2016 and is interviewed by none other than Solange Knowles about all things girl power, Black beauty and being labeled as a revolutionary in her new cover story for Teen Vogue.
Solange remarks how before the interview she had never met Stenberg, yet felt a connection with her as they both among the tribe of “Black girls who are destined to climb mountains and cross rivers in a world that tells us to belong to the valleys that surround us.” Their conversation is truly powerful (and as spirited as the superstars themselves), especially when focused on societal pressure for Black women to “shrink themselves” in order to conform.
“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,” Stenberg said. “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.”
And while both trendsetters admit that constantly answering questions about their hair is exhausting, Stenberg does have one exception to the rule. “I’m not tired of talking about hair in the sense of it being an empowering thing. I know when I used to chemically straighten mine, I did it because I wasn’t comfortable with my natural hair. I thought it was too poofy, too kinky. So for me, personally, when I started wearing it natural, it felt like I was blossoming because I was letting go of all the dead hair and all the parts of me that had rejected my natural state.”
But perhaps the biggest statement the young actress made about her individuality came Thursday night on Teen Vogue’s Snapchat account, where she said she “identifies as a Black, bisexual woman." In the clip, she opens up about how painful it can be to force yourself to “fight against your identity and to mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn’t be in.”
“As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman, I’ve been through it, and it hurts, and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable…but then I realized because of Solange and Ava DuVernay and Willow [Smith] and all the Black girls watching this right now, that there’s absolutely nothing to change,” she said.
Click here to read her full interview with Solange Knowles in Teen Vogue.
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(Photo: Teen Vogue, February 2016)