We're celebrating her 17th birthday with a nice serving of real talk perfection

By Lydia Price
Updated October 23, 2015 10:25 AM
Credit: Getty

We have a lot of feelings – and Amandla Stenberg expresses them all better than we ever could.

The actress, who first got on Hollywood’s radar thanks to her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, has become an unstoppable voice for more and more issues surrounding the social landscape. For her 17th birthday today, we’re celebrating Stenberg and all of the nuggets of wisdom she has graciously gifted the world.

On Sexism

“Guys aren’t allowed to express femininity; they have to always appear masculine and that’s bull—-. I love it when guys can be feminine and express their emotions and creativity. It shows strength.”
– to Dazed

On Fighting Back Against Tropes

“Whenever black women have a point, they’re characterized as angry black women, and therefore the thing they’re talking about is no longer of importance because they have to deal with them being overly emotional or something. I recognize that people who respond negatively to what I have to say aren’t at a place yet where they are able to learn … And it’s exactly what I’m trying to fight.”
– to Essence

On the Importance of Self-Expression

“It’s a tiny revolution to express yourself fully and be who you want to be, especially when systems tell you that you can’t. I’ve realized how powerful it is for me to just discuss issues with young people and begin conversations.”
– to The Fader

On Having Confidence in Her Generation

“I think people discredit teenagers and how wise they can be. Sometimes I meet teenagers who are much wiser than many adults I’ve met because they haven’t let any insecurities or doubts about themselves get in the way of their thoughts.”
– to Dazed

On Risking Backlash from the Entertainment Industry

“Of course it’s something that has crossed my mind, but to be honest, I think one has to ask – backlash against what? It’s not as if there are a slew of projects featuring black girls I’m suddenly being shut out of … There is such a lack of powerful and nuanced representation for women of color.”
– to Nylon

On Growing from Dealing with Racist Criticism of Her Role in The Hunger Games

“It was my first interaction with blatant racism. Even though it was painful, it was important to experience it, because it connected me in a very real way to the struggle that millions of people endure every day.”
– to Dazed

On Urging Others to Let Their Realness Shine

“It’s easier to say, ‘Don’t care about what anyone thinks,’ than it is to actually not care about what anyone thinks. But, honestly, anything you’re passionate about, that’s what you’ll be the best at.”
– to The Huffington Post

On The Power of Social Media
“It’s such an incredible platform. We’re able to communicate ideas so easily. We’re able to organize and create in a second. We’re unstoppable!”
– to Dazed

On Demanding More from Hollywood
“It’s so important to create roles and characters and projects that feature black people in a way that’s not specifically targeted toward the niche market, which is, like, a black movie is created and it’s produced and pitched so that only black people will watch it … I want to see dynamic characters and roles that everyone wants to watch.”
– to Elle

On Challenging Our Priorities
“I wonder how many college tuitions could be paid off with the amount of money spent by Minions on advertisement.”
– on Twitter

On Planning to Use Her Future for a Purpose

“I want to be fulfilled creatively as an actress and get to be in roles that are meaningful and impactful. I hope the same thing for myself as a director, one day. I want to make things that have an impact on how we look at the world.”
– to Dazed