She’s not afraid to speak her mind, and we love her for it! 17-year-old Amandla Stenberg has been using her platform to make social change happen.
Amandla is a strong advocate of women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, and more. She’s also a vocal opponent of cultural appropriation. Her passion for important social issues has led her to speak out and encourage fellow youth to take action, too. The Hunger Games star and young activist spoke with us backstage and told us what she’s most passionate about, and what Living WE means to her.
You’re an inspiration to many young people. What drives you to use your platform to bring about change?
I think what drives me to use my platform is recognizing I actually have a lot of power in it. And just by using my platform I can inspire other young girls to have confidence within themselves, and have confidence to speak out about things that affect them and their friends, in their communities. I feel like if I have those platforms, I’m able to empower girls just by using social media, then I might as well do as much as I can.
You’re pretty outspoken about body confidence. What other issues are you passionate about?
I’m definitely passionate about body confidence and body image, in terms of thinking how women, of colour in particular, can be humanized and taught to think about their bodies in a negative. That’s body image in some ways, but also has a lot to do with the intersection of racism and sexism, and that’s something I experience in my life. I see the black women, and other women of colour in my life experiencing it. Cultural appropriation is one of those things; I feel like cultural appropriation is a side effect of that sort of discrimination where it perpetuates the idea that black women are less than and leaves space for that culture to be taken from them.
What advice do you have for someone who may be passionate about a cause that’s dear to them, and how can they go about letting the world know?
I think often what stops people from either speaking out or trying to make a change in some ways, [is that] enough times people feel like they won’t make a big enough difference, or they’re afraid of starting conversations because they feel like they might be wrong or make mistakes. But I feel like the point of it is you will make mistakes, and also any small change is actually a huge change in itself.
How do you deal with the adversity that comes your way, and the negative criticisms?
When it comes to negative criticism, I can’t allow myself to focus on them. A large part of that is me realizing what is important to focus on and what isn’t. So with negative criticism, I accept it and will use it if it’s criticism that is actually pointing out a flaw in a point that I made, or might be trying to start a conversation. But if it’s criticism that’s blind ignorance, then I won’t pay attention to it.
What does Living WE mean to you?
I think Living WE is thinking about the collective experience we have as people. So, things that are personal to you, components of your identity that are political in the sense that, just by experiencing different intersections of your identity, you’re also being revolutionary in some ways. I think that applies to society as a whole as well. We’re all connecting over these different aspects of our identities.
Thank you so much Amandla for sitting down with us! Make sure to catch her on the WE Day broadcast on August 28, 7/6 on ABC Network!