Gifted, Sweet Natured and Ahead Of The Curve!
By Rych McCain, International/Nationally Syndicated Entertainment Print Columnist
|Amandla Stenberg Photo by Kat Ward|
It takes a special sense of consciousness for a child to not only pursue the craft of acting but to commit to the training, discipline and sacrifices it takes to nurture that talent to the level of professional execution. The plot to this scenario is enhanced when said child is a gorgeous thirteen-year-old who radiates a sweet natured confidence that can be genuinely felt in her presence. Amandla Stenberg is a teen actress whose time in the spotlight has arrived. Born and reared in Los Angeles with a name that means power in the African Zulu language; Stenberg is currently starring as Rue in the Lionsgate film “The Hunger Games.” She made her big screen debut as ten year-old Cataleya (the young version of Zoe Saldana’s adult Cataleya character), in the movie “Colombiana.” Stenberg turned in an outstanding performance in that film acting well beyond her eleven years including performing some of her own stunts when the project was shot.
Stenberg began her career at age four as a Disney Catalog print model and made the smooth transition into commercials including the famed “BuildTheDream.org” PSA in 2009 which helped raise funds to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. A couple of years later in October of 2011, Stemberg got the opportunity to speak at the King Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, D.C., with actress Cicely Tyson. Stenberg plays the violin, drums and guitar and has performed violin with the LA Unified School District’s Honors Orchestra. She has also won the Rock Star Music Education program’s Battle of the Bands with her band and is an avid photographer.
The role of Rue in “The Hunger Games” required Stenberg to be out in the elements of the woods in North Carolina. Did she have to do anything physical in her audition to show that she had the right stuff? She says, “I didn’t have to do anything physical but I did tell Gary Ross (the film’s director), that I ran track and I also got to do some really fun hard core stuff with David Bell the creator when I was working on “Columbiana.’” What physical skills did Stenberg take for real life from her hunger games training? She laughs, “I did some stunts in a harness and I learned how to climb trees really, really quickly. That was fun. I had a custom made harness and it was all set up when I got to North Carolina and I got to practice flying around like Peter Pan.”
In the film, Stenberg is paired with Nigerian born actor Dayo Okeniyi who plays Thresh, as the representatives from District 11. How much fun was it to pair with Dayo? Stenberg lights up, “It was extremely fun because he is a really funny guy and we became close. We spent a lot of time on set joking around and teasing each other.” Even though all actors read the script and basically know what to expect on set there is often the element of surprise. Did Stenberg have any surprises? She reflects, “I don’t think that there was anything that actually surprised me. I mean it was amazing walking on set and seeing a world that I envisioned in my mind that’s incredible. And all of the sets were incredible so that kind of surprised me just how well it was brought to life.”
What was her experience like working with four-time Oscar® nominee, director Gary Ross? Stenberg became illuminated, “I loved working with Gary just because one day I think I want to direct and I love photography. And so it was very interesting to see the shots that he did and the choices that he made because some of them just turned out so beautiful.” The Hunger Games movie along with her talent and cutie-pie good looks are sure to put Stemberg on the next level of stardom. How does she plan to handle it? She sweetly says, “I think it’s very important to stay grounded and to remember that the business is not about the fame, the parties and all of that. It’s more about the work itself and also being able to use your new found fame I guess for greater good.” For example, Stenberg currently works with the Ubuntu Education Fund which helps children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa as well as other great causes.
© 2012 Rych McCain Media/Syndication TM
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