Fashion

Teen actress Amandla Stenberg promotes importance of black self-love on cover of Teen Vogue

SELF-LOVE; Amandla Stenberg

SELF-LOVE; Amandla Stenberg [PIC CREDIT: Teen Vogue]

TEEN ACTRESS and activist Amandla Stenberg has encouraged young black girls to be “yourself on the most genuine level” by connecting and encouraging each other.

The 17-year-old appears on the latest cover of Teen Vogue and used the platform to promote self-love.

“I think that as a black girl you grow up internalising 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,” she says.

“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 realising that they’ve been trying to conform.”

Amandla was interviewed by singer Solange Knowles – the younger sister of Beyoncé – who the magazine described as “two nonconforming black girls”.

“Connecting as two trailblazers who recognise the borders that have been built around us as we steadily tear them down, dancing through life while colouring outside every line,” they said.

TEEN VOGUE

Solange asked the Hunger Games star how it felt when her video, titled Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows – which showed her berating white stars for cultural appropriation – went viral.

“I really didn’t think it was going to be so controversial. And then to have the label of “revolutionary” pinned on you afterward felt really daunting,” she said.

“I kind of had a moment with myself, like, ‘OK. Is this what you want to do? Do you actually want to talk about issues? Is it worth it?’ There are still moments now where I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is a lot of pressure.’ But it’s worth it because when people come to me and say, ‘I’m more comfortable in my identity because of you,’ or ‘I feel like you’ve given me a voice,’ that’s the most powerful thing ever.”

Last year, Amandla teamed up with writer Sebastian Jones to produce a comic book to empower young girls.

Niobe: She Is Life, which centres on an orphan who is mixed race – like Amandla – explores issues of race, identity and female empowerment.

“Growing up, I was always super into fantasy and The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones and all of that, but I could never find black characters whom I really liked. And so immediately I identified with Niobe, the lead character. She’s this rad black girl elf. It’s interesting because it is fantasy, but it’s also really kind of self-reflective. She’s finding her faith and finding her identity.

“I think it’s officially the first comic book to be written by a black girl, starring a black girl [Niobe Ayutami], and illustrated by a black girl [Ashley A. Woods],” she said.

 

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