Named for the Zulu word for power, Amandla Stenberg is a force to be reckoned with.
Born on October 23, 1998, she landed the first of her Disney catalog modeling shoots when she was four years old. Amandla has shot numerous commercials, most notably for McDonald's with Ronald McDonald himself, for Walmart with DJ Tony of The Ellen DeGeneres Show (LeVar Burton aka Kunta Kinte directed), and for BuildTheDream.org. This moving, Boeing-sponsored PSA, which raised funds for a national memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., premiered during the weekend of President Obama's inauguration in January 2009 on Meet the Press and other NBC/MSNBC programs. On October 16, 2011, Amandla was invited by the MLK Memorial Foundation, along with such luminaries as Jesse Jackson, Tommy Hilfiger, Dan Rather, Stevie Wonder and Nikki Giovanni, to participate in the memorial's dedication ceremony. After an introduction by actress Cicely Tyson, Amandla paid tribute to the four little girls who were killed in the Birmingham church bombing.
In the summer and fall of 2010, the actress shot her first feature, Colombiana, an action-thriller starring Zoe Saldana whose character, Cataleya Restrepo, Amandla plays as a child. Amandla opens the movie, setting the stage for Saldana's cold-blooded assassin. The Luc Besson vehicle is quintessential Besson, featuring lots of daring stunts, some of which Amandla performed herself. On set to help Amandla hone her natural athletic abilities was David Belle, the French-born creator of Parkour. "A star is born!" raved one reviewer. The New York Times declared, "her portrayal of the future deadly-but sensitive killer is such a perfect combination of trembling, action chops and deadpan humor." Next up for Amandla came the Hallmark Channel movie A Taste of Romance, which she filmed in Los Angeles in February 2011.
In April 2011, Lionsgate announced that Amandla had landed the coveted role of Rue in the screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' popular young adult series, The Hunger Games. The news was greeted with overwhelming support by fans, and the highly anticipated film opened in theaters on March 23, 2012, to much acclaim and big box office numbers. The Los Angeles Times noted "the presence of young actress Amandla Stenberg, who makes a powerful impression as 12-year-old Rue." Time magazine said Amandla "adds underage winsomeness as Rue," and Variety called her a "winning newcomer." For her heart-breaking performance, Amandla earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. She also won (with Jennifer Lawrence) a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Chemistry.
To promote the movie, the young actress, who is featured in a Hunger Games movie poster and graces the cover of Scholastic's Tribute Guide, traveled around the country greeting fans and signing autographs on Lionsgate's mall tour. She also conducted numerous print, television and video interviews with media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, People, Us Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Seventeen, Essence, Vanity Fair, E! News and The Wall Street Journal. Singled out as one of Hollywood's young stars to watch by Rolling Stone, Paper and Ebony, Amandla has made her mark as a fashionista, landing on two magazine covers, Girls' Life and Justine, and earning kudos for her red carpet style.
Amandla shot a comedic pilot starring Craig Robinson (The Office) for NBC Universal in March 2013. She also makes an appearance in the short film Mercy as the daughter of singer Robin Thicke, the movie's writer and director, and Paula Patton. She plays herself, poking fun at how frequently her name is mispronounced, in a skit with friend Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men for Funny Or Die's Child Star Psychologist 3 with Kiernan Shipka. In November 2013 Amandla began a guest-starring stint as Macey, the daughter of Captain Irving (Orlando Jones), on Fox's hit show Sleepy Hollow.
In addition to on-camera jobs, Amandla has put her sensitive ear to work in ADR gigs for both film and television. Be sure to catch her as she lends her voice to Rio 2 (2014) playing a high-flying, feathery spawn of Anne Hathaway (Jewel) and Jesse Eisenberg (Blu).
A gifted musician, Amandla plays the violin, drums and guitar. In 2009, she performed the violin with the Los Angeles Unified School District's Honors Orchestra at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex. Her involvement with the Rock STAR Music Education program landed her gigs at the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafe, as well as a studio session with producer/engineer Gerry Brown, after her band won RockSTAR's Battle of the Bands. In the fall of 2013, Amandla partnered up with a singer-songwriter friend and began playing the violin with their band, Hawley, at Los Angeles venues such as Room 5 Lounge, Genghis Cohen and the House of Blues' Voodoo Lounge.
Amandla is a youth ambassador for No Kid Hungry (Jeff Bridges serves as spokesperson for the charity's umbrella organization, Share Our Strength) and supports the Ubuntu Education Fund, which nurtures children "from cradle to career" in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.