Amandla Stenberg Talks Colourism Debate Around Her Casting In The Hate U Give
Some fans suggested a darker skinned actress should have bagged the role.
Amandla Stenberg has opened up about being cast in the film version of The Hate U Give and has addressed a debate that questioned whether a darker skinned actress would have been more appropriate for the role.
Discussing the conversation with reporters at the Toronto Film Festival, she said: “It was the first time in my life that I'd ever had my blackness questioned. I've never thought of myself as not being black enough.”
For anyone unfamiliar with the plot of the YA adaption, the story is about a teenage girl who witnesses the shooting of an unarmed friend by a white police officer – prompting her to question her place in the black community she lives in and her predominantly white private school.
One of the more vocal critics of her casting was the artist who illustrated Angie Thomas’s novel. Debra Cartwright said she “wasn’t exactly thrilled” by Amandla securing the position and had been hoping that a “very brown-skinned actress” would be given the opportunity to portray the lead role.
Speaking up about the criticism, the 19-year-old responded: “I have a great sensitivity towards the place from where that [viewpoint] comes, a place of pain. It's a result of people being frustrated because they're navigating a colourist system at all times.
"There was a point in time when I went to Angie [Thomas] and said 'If you agree with these concerns and feel I don't accurately represent Starr, tell me and I will drop out'. And she said, 'What?' She said she had never questioned I was not the right person."
Amandla went on to say that she respects the “depth and heart” of the novel and said that her main goal as an actor was to “capture” that feeling and help other young black women feel equally as “validated, empowered and strong.”