In this Screen Tests interview, up-and-coming actress Amandla Stenberg (Rue in The Hunger Games, Rio 2, Everything, Everything) talks about her obsession with Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and Django Unchained, not having an iPhone anymore, puberty, the story behind her first kiss and makeout session, getting her nose pierced for her birthday, and starring in her own musicals.
At 18, Amandla Stenberg is the youngest talent in W's 2017 Royals portfolio, but she's earned more than earned her place alongside Tilda Swinton, Pharrell, and Tracee Ellis Ross. In fact, the Hunger Games star could have been featured in multiple categories--actress, style icon, musician--but instead she earned the title of new activist, alongside Faye Wattleton, the youngest ever president of Planned Parenthood. Stenberg regularly uses her social media platform to call out cultural appropriation, speak about intersectional feminism, and inspire her fans--both young and old--to make the world a better place.
What was the first thing you auditioned for?
I can't remember the first thing I auditioned for, but the first thing that I was ever in was a commercial for something called Fivesies, and they were these dolls that came in fives. They were five connected dolls that you would have to, like, rock them together and feed them. Honestly, why would you want five dolls? What is that teaching young girls?
Did you have a cinematic crush growing up?
I mean, Leonardo DiCaprio was my cinematic crush. My walls were covered [with posters] when I was a younger teenager. I had all kinds of influences up on my wall, like, I had a couple Quentin Tarantino posters and I had, like, a James Turrell poster, and flowers, and things, and little notes my friends had passed me in class, and definitely at least a couple pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio. Titanic reigns supreme in my heart. I have seen Gilbert Grape. He’s great in that. I mean, he’s great in everything. I was just watching the YouTube clip from that part of Django, that moment where he slices his hand open. It’s bleeding and he went with that acting choice. That’s so cool to me.
You're in W's royals portfolio this year. Who, to you, is royal?
Kendrick Lamar. I have been listening to Damn for the past couple months, ever since it dropped. And just hearing what he has to say about his position in the world, what it’s like coming from Compton, and I’m also from south L.A., so I think I feel, like, a connection to it.
And you’re making music now, too, right?
Yeah, right now, I’m tentatively making music. I got to make a song for the soundtrack of my film Everything, Everything. It was a cover song of a Mac DeMarco tune called “Let My Baby Stay”. So that was really fun. I ended up directing a music video for it, just for kicks.
How about a favorite emoji?
My favorite emoji is the little angel emoji, but only if it’s the black one.
Was there a specific event that made you get rid of your phone?
It was taking over my life a bit, but mostly I just kind of felt like I was floating away and I felt like part of that had to do with being in a virtual world that didn’t have any kind of tangible substance to it. I felt like my life was refreshing Instagram as opposed to refreshing life.
What was your favorite birthday?
When I turned 17, I got my nose pierced and that was a big event. I remember getting it and feeling, like, yeah, I got my nose pierced. I’m a real teen now.
Where was your first kiss?
My first kiss was at a party when I was 14. It was, like, the first time I had ever made out with someone. And I remember sitting on this boy’s bed and I remember him leaning in, like, panicking and looking away. I remember finally kind of getting more comfortable with him and making out and being, like, this is weird. I don’t like this. I think he was probably just a bad kisser. We dated for a brief moment. He took me to the museum, the movies and everything, but it was weird ‘cause he looked a lot older than me. And I think it kind of freaked out people when we were in public, even though we were the same age. I was very small. I didn’t really hit puberty until, like, a year ago.
Read the full interview here - https://www.wmagazine.com/story/amandla-stenberg-iphone
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Amandla Stenberg on Leonardo DiCaprio, Puberty, and Quitting Her iPhone | Screen Tests | W Magazine