Amandla Stenberg is reflecting on her experiences with “cancel culture” after being canceled “so many times” by people across the political spectrum.
The Bodies Bodies Bodies star spoke with Euphoria actress and friend Hunter Schafer for The Cut’s August cover story and got frank about how she’s navigated people’s criticisms of her career choices.
“Do I care that I have been canceled?” Stenberg asks after Schafer draws a connection between supposed cancel culture and the tone of the new A24 film. (Euphoria‘s Schafer notes at one point in the chat that Bodies Bodies Bodies features characters “just trying to cancel each other in the same space.”)
“I consider myself one of the lucky ones because now I don’t have to live with some perverse, distorted Catholic guilt,” Stenberg responds. She later adds, “This guilt that seems to derive from the Catholic Church around if I am a good person or not. The world decided that I’m not going to Heaven, so I’m fine with that. See you in hell!”
Stenberg goes on to directly address criticisms she’s faced around her castings, project choices and even identity, noting that it has all been politicized.
“I like to speak openly about the person that I am, and that invites some canceling from the far right,” the actress says. “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.”
“I don’t know. I’ve been canceled so many times but from so many different angles, from so many different sides of politics,” she adds. “That has really shown me that that’s just my fate.”
The Bodies Bodies Bodies star states that what she’s been criticized for — including being offered more roles as well as taking certain parts as a lighter-skinned biracial Black actress — are “all things that I cannot control.”
“If we lived in a culture in which people read or listened, then I think I would care a lot more,” she said. “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,” she continues. “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.”
The actress has previously discussed Hollywood’s discriminatory history of hiring lighter skinned Black actresses. It’s something she has said impacted her decision to step back from auditioning for Shuri in Black Panther, while also fueling critiques around her casting in The Hate U Give — a casting that was criticized for not going to a darker-skinned actress based on the book’s description of Stenberg’s character.
But Stenberg didn’t just talk about her own cancellation in the new interview. She also discussed the act of “canceling characters” after Schafer noted that she doesn’t “want to watch things about good people” while discussing the personalities of Bodies Bodies Bodies privileged characters.
The actress said she feels canceling bad characters can be “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.