Amandla Stenberg was reportedly given an opportunity to act in the blockbuster hit, Black Panther. However, she decided to walk away from the role.
In an interview with CBC, Stenberg revealed that her skin tone was the reason she decided against being in the film.
“One of the most challenging things for me to do was to walk away from Black Panther. 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…These are all dark skin actors playing Africans and I feel like it would have just been off to see me as a bi-racial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie,” Stenberg said.
Stenberg’s decision sheds light on the issues of color within the Black community. In American society, Blacks with lighter skin were often granted privileges that were not given to those with darker skin. Some Blacks even embraced the illogical notion by implementing a “paper bag test” for inclusion in certain groups or clubs. It created a rift on all levels as Blacks with lighter skin were, at times, viewed as not being “black enough.”
For Sternberg, she believed her skin tone would represent colonization of an African nation in a film that took place in an imaginary land where colonization had never occurred. Her presence may have caused a few to question the film, but her performance would have stood out the most.
Stenberg’s “Blackness” should not be questioned on or off camera. She remains one of the most vocal actors in Hollywood when it comes to speaking out on racism and injustice.
Unfortunately, her skin tone played a part in her missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s also unfortunate that colorism still affects the lives of Black people on a daily.