Do you remember the year you were 16? I remember GCSEs, hair gel and an unholy amount of Star Trek. I was, in simple retail terms, a generic teen. Since my time, some teens have become brands in their own right, and they don’t get much more high-quality than 16-year-old actor Amandla Stenberg. She makes me want to do my teens all over again.
For a certain audience, Stenberg is Rue, the fragile young girl who died in The Hunger Games so Katniss Everdeen could go on to win the tournament and overthrow the evil government. For others, she is an outspoken activist and film-maker. On her Tumblr site, Stenberg eloquently breaks down issues for her teen (and not so teen) fanbase. “When the media is not ignoring black women altogether,” she wrote in a recent post, “they are disparaging them.” At the age of 15, she directed a short film of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, an early feminist short story about a woman living with mental illness.
She does all this and yet remains a charmingly #CarefreeBlackGirl. Alongside links to news stories from the Charleston shootings and beyond, Stenberg’s Tumblr site features photos of her with her squad (Willow Smith and Tavi Gevinson among them), prom pictures, art and music (she plays violin in her own band, Honeywater). What’s more, her eyebrows are works of art.
My affection for her is the type I’d have for a little sister (if I had one): pure delighted love, with only a touch of envy. The world is laid out before her, and she’s bright and spirited enough to go out and make a difference. Is that not crush-worthy?