Black Panther is arguably one of the biggest films of the year (if not the biggest), and actor Amandla Stenberg was thiiiiis close to being cast in the Marvel movie—until she took herself out of the running.
During a recent panel discussion at the TIFF Next Wave Festival in Toronto, Stenberg revealed that she bowed out from being considered for a role in the action flick because she felt like the part deserved to go to a darker-skinned actor.
“One of the most challenging things for me to do was to walk away from Black Panther,” she said. “I got really, really close and they were like, ‘Do you want to continue fighting for this?’ And I was like, this isn’t right.”
While discussing the issue of shadeism and colourism in Hollywood with panel host Amanda Parris, Stenberg acknowledged that her lighter skin gives her an advantage since it’s often fairer-skinned people that get cast when Black women are given opportunities. She didn’t want this to be the case with Black Panther.
“These are all dark skin actors playing Africans and I feel like it would have just been off to see me as a biracial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same colour as everyone else in the movie,” Stenberg explained.
The thoughtful choice made by the 19-year-old actor/activist came after much consideration, but it’s a decision she’s proud of: “I recognize 100 percent that there are spaces that I should not take up, and when I do take up a space, it’s because I’ve thought really, really critically about it and I’ve consulted people I really trust and it feels right.”