After serving as the target of various such campaigns over her career, recently-cast Star Wars: Acolyte lead Amandla Stenberg has come to believe that it is her “fate” to be continually canceled by audiences from across the spectrum of political beliefs.
Stenberg, who is perhaps best known for starring as Rue in the first The Hunger Games film and as Alana Beck in the cinematic adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen, spoke to her thoughts on cancel culture during a recent interview given to friend and Euphoria actress Hunter Schafter for The Cut’s August cover story.
The non-binary actress – who uses they/them or she/her pronouns – first addressed the topic of one of contemporary discourse’s most prevalent ills while discussing how she embraced the ‘unlikability’ of her Bodies Bodies Bodies character because her eventual comeuppance for being such a bad person provided audiences with some much needed schadenfreude.
“This funny thing happened with the birth of cancel culture in which we started canceling characters,” said Stenberg. “I actually feel that is detrimental to what film is supposed to be about, which is putting terrible people on screens and laughing at them sometimes when necessary.”
“That’s a very healthy way for us to expel our demons,” she added. “If we can take our demons and splash them across the silver screen and take a good look at them, maybe we can be more aware of them, and maybe we can laugh while we do it, and then the ego death comes a little easier.”
This mention of cancel culture by Stenberg eventually prompted Schafter to ask whether or not the prospect of facing angry online mobs had affected how she conducted herself online, the actress dismissed, “I mean, I’ve been canceled so many times. Do I care that I have been canceled? I consider myself one of the lucky ones because now I don’t have to live with some perverse, distorted Catholic guilt.”
“This guilt that seems to derive from the Catholic Church around if I am a good person or not,” she continued. “The world decided that I’m not going to Heaven, so I’m fine with that. See you in hell!”
One of most notable cancellation attempts faced by Stenberg resulted from her starring in Where Hands Touch, as many audiences took offense to the film’s depiction of an interracial romance between her character and a young Nazi due to their belief that this subject matter would be “romanticizing” the Third Reich.
Following this exclamation, the actress capitulated, “I don’t know. I’ve been canceled so many times but from so many different angles, from so many different sides of politics. That has really shown me that that’s just my fate.”
“I like to speak openly about the person that I am, and that invites some canceling from the far right,” she explained. “Then there are folks on the far left who think that I have done things that have not been inclusive, or that I have unfairly taken up space within media, or that I’m in cahoots with the entertainment industry when it comes to representation of Blackness. These are all things that I cannot control and also that don’t have much to do with me.”
She further opined, “If we lived in a culture in which people read or listened, then I think I would care a lot more. But it doesn’t really matter how many times I express my true perspective on colorism or how many ways I try to decenter the privilege that I have, or it doesn’t matter how I try to virtue-signal that outwardly. Outside the bounds of my community, it’s not really my business.”
“Because if I’m moving responsibly and ethically and with radical care in my immediate community, that’s all I’m really concerned about at this point,” she concluded.
As of writing, Star Wars: The Acolyte does not yet have a release date.