'The Hunger Games' ' Amandla Stenberg Talks Diversity, Sexuality – and the Presidential Election

Amandla Stenberg also shares her take on youth culture and today's political spectrum in a new interview

Photo: Gregory Harris

The storm surrounding this year’s Oscars has calmed, but Hollywood’s diversity problems are far from over, according to The Hunger Games star and youth activist Amandla Stenberg.

Speaking out in Interview magazine’s “The New Progressives” April issue, the 17-year-old said she’ll use her platform to push for change.

“There are some really valid things in what Jada Pinkett Smith said,” Stenberg said of the actress’ decision to skip the Academy Awards. “I’m really passionate about representation in film. I feel like the world is dominated by such a small group of human beings. There are so many different kinds of people that aren’t represented, that don’t have characters who look like them.”

Stenberg said the issue is one of the reasons she wants to direct in the future – and is headed to New York University’s film school after she graduates high school: “I want to actually tell some of these stories.”

She noted, however, that the “intense emphasis” on awards shows can have a negative impact on an industry that is producing “good” work. “We need to realize that art and creation are so much bigger than an award or any measure of accomplishment,” she explained.

The actress, who created her own comic book about a powerful female warrior just last year, has long been outspoken about both black and youth culture, but admits she worries about getting “boxed into this #BlackGirlMagic social activist category.”

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Lately, after coming out as bisexual, Stenberg has also been thinking more and more about what it means to be part of several minority groups.

“I mean, unfortunately or not unfortunately, take it as you will, when you are a marginalized person or a woman of color and/or someone who’s a part of the LGBTQ community, your acts become politicized, just by being yourself,” she explained. “Because we’re not completely accepting of all different kinds of human beings. So that’s been an interesting dynamic for me to navigate. By being myself, I’m doing something political.”

But American politics interest the teen, as she told Interview – and she hopes other like-minded kids will take a chance to engage with the 2016 presidential election.

“I think there’s this great disconnect between youth culture and politics, which is a product of how our capitalist system works,” she says. “I mean, a lot of the kids I know are really politically involved. They really care about politics. They care about who the president is going to be. And so, I guess we’ll see very soon. I think we’re going to have an incredible impact on how politics end up shaking this country.”

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