Amandla Stenberg On Badass Hair, The “Shine Theory” & Snapchat Selfies

Amandla Stenberg made us cry in the first installment of The Hunger Games as the lovable and innocent Rue, who continues to inspire Katniss throughout the rest of the series. Since then, she's emerged as a real-life role model — one who is in her prime and more inspirational than ever. In her cover story for the February issue of Teen Vogue, the actress and feminist talks with Solange Knowles in a conversation that empowers girls to be badass and confident trailblazers. Just like her. Did we mention that she's only 17? Solange and Stenberg touch on a range of topics over the course of their interview, but it mostly centers on Stenberg's recent acceptance of her Blackness — her pride and conviction in representing her culture and her own identity. The actress credits a lot of that, surprisingly, to social media. Many people critique how fake platforms like Instagram can be, but she disagrees. "Now you can go on Instagram and you can see a girl who looks like you who is killing the game and expressing herself," she tells Solange. "Just being able to see that is so affirming."
Solange asks Stenberg if she's sick of talking about her hair yet. "Yo — yes!" she replies. They both agree that as "badass" as their hair is, they're growing weary of talking about it. "I’m tired of talking about who can have whichever style," Stenberg says. "Because I’ve said my thing." That "thing" being her viral "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows Video," which is a must-watch. The video changed things for Stenberg and put her at the forefront of recent conversations about cultural appropriation — a role she says was "daunting" at first to fill, but that she now thrives in. Stenberg credits a lot of her knowledge and enthusiasm to the group of girls she surrounds herself with. Quick role call: Kiernan Shipka, Willow Smith, Tavi Gevinson, Lorde. Oh, and she went to prom with Jaden Smith. "I have a friend who has this thing called 'shine theory,'" she shares, "which basically says that when you become friends with other powerful, like-minded people, you all just shine brighter." Clearly, Stenberg will be around and making waves for a while. But not without having a little fun along the way: "I take a lot of really dumb Snapchat videos, too! Really bad, like double-chin selfies." Read the full interview over at Teen Vogue.

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