“Yo, this little girl is Cold As F—!” was my first impression upon seeing Amandla Sternberg’s big screen debut playing the younger Cataleya to lead actress Zoe Saldana’s character in Columbiana
I don’t know who shot first, but Amandla clearly hit her marks and possibly topped Zoe’s dynamic performance. The then 12 year old actress owned the role with her turn as the free running, revenge driven, ruthlessly shrewd yet emotionally disturbed little girl. That’s Superhero, That’s Badass! And more recently she has gone on to prove that it was not just an act.
A few weeks ago, I received a text from my bro Supreme Understanding announcing Amandla Sternberg’s launching of “NIOBE: SHE IS LIFE”, a comic book collaboration with Stranger Comic’s Sebastian A. Jones and socially conscious artist, Ashley A. Woods. The series chronicles the journey of another fictional “Badass Girl” named Niobe Ayutami “an orphaned wild elf teenager and would-be savior of the vast and volatile fantasy world of Asunda. She is running from a past where the Devil himself would see her damned… toward an epic future that patiently waits for her to bind nations against the hordes of Hell!”
The comic’s press release described Amandla as a Cultural Activist and discussed how Niobe’s heroic destiny as a unifier mirrored her own. I soon discovered that while the comic book is a promising endeavor, it is just one part of Amandla Sternberg’s personal trajectory to relevancy. Rather than just give lip service or seize photo-ops, Amandla like young Cataleya gets down in the sewage of causes that are important to her. Her support of No Kid Hungry
went beyond raising awareness via social media posts and PSAs, she took the Live Below the Line Challenge
to live on a $1.50 a day food budget. Whether its furthering the agenda of #Blacklivesmatter movement to question “Do Female Black Lives Matter Too?” or actively pioneering an Earthy Girl movement by taking fashion cues from the likes of Solange Knowles, Amandla is about that business.
“Thanks @billboard, but this is not a petty criticism of Taylor Swift, who, btw, I love. This is about creating a dialogue between races. The way you are presenting this video is misleading and creates conflict instead of constructive convo! “.
Amandla Sternberg has received honors as The Coolest Teen Ever and The Voice of a Generation for her activism, accomplishments and grounded sense of self. Dispecably she is hated on too. Amandla displayed confident resilience against a bigoted social media backlash for being cast as Rue in the Hunger Games, a character described in the books as dark skinned with dark hair. Her emotional range and exceeding the physical demands of the role made her portrayal a fan favorite. Still she like Candace Patton of the CW’s The Flash, is a constant target of racist Tweets and Tumblr hate campaigns simply for having a job that her haters think should have gone to a white actress.
Unfortunately The hate doesn’t stop there. Earlier this summer when Amandla charged Kylie Jenner with Cultural Appropriation for her instagram photo rocking conrows
, captioned “I woke up like disss” and reportedly originally including the hashtag #whitegirlsdoitbetter
, Bravo’s Adam Cohen labeled the 16 year old a “Jackhole”
, Justin Bieber publicly called her charge “ridiculous” as he defended Kylie as “just a kid trying to figure it out” and less intelligent social media denizens deemed her an Angry Black Girl. Coolly she hit back.
“End the “angry black girl” narrative. It’s just another attempt to undermine certain perspectives. I have strong opinions. I am not angry.”
Its a testament to her internal fortitude that through the praise and condemnation, Amandla’s focus has not diminished but has strengthened exponentially. She remains driven by a passion to move behind the camera like her idols Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee and make films for and about Black Women. Talented veteran actress Anika Noni Rose calls Amandla “very grounded, quite intelligent, & undeniably cute-to-death” and I concur.
In my opinion Amandla Sternberg is that Badass Superhero Earthy Girl I would be content to have our sons pine for and our daughters want to emulate.