Exclusive: Amandla Stenberg Talks Everything, Everything

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Exclusive: Amandla Stenberg Talks Everything, Everything
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 15, 2017

Coming out this week in the romantic drama Everything, Everything, which is directed by Stella Meghie and stars Amandla Stenberg as Maddy and Nick Robinson as Olly.  The film also stars Ana de la Reguera and Anika Noni Rose.

The film is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Nicola Yoon.

What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world?  Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face…or kiss the boy next door?  “Everything, Everything” tells the unlikely love story of Maddy, a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, and Olly, the boy next door who won’t let that stop them.

Maddy is desperate to experience the much more stimulating outside world, and the promise of her first romance.  Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, she and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together…even if it means losing everything.

For Stenberg, who is best known for her portrayal of Rue in the first Hunger Games and playing the younger version of Zoe Saldana’s assassin character in Colombiana, this is her first studio role as a lead. She was previously seen in the indie film As You Are and will also be the lead in Amma Asante’s upcoming World War II drama Where Hands Touch opposite George MacKay.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Stenberg on her role in the film, working with Meghie, and the choices she makes wit films.

What attracted you to this film?

Amandla Stenberg: What made me say yes to this was that it wasn’t written specifically for a biracial girl. When I was pitched the project, I was critical of it. I was like, “Here we go. Someone is sending me a young adult film that’s probably made for a white girl. Why are they sending this to me? I’ll probably audition and not get the part cuz they will give it to a white girl.” Then I paid closer attention to it and realized that it was based on a book called “Everything, Everything” by a black woman with a biracial daughter. She wanted to create something that her daughter could read. Something that would represent her. That was really beautiful to me and I thought about the project further and realized that we haven’t been able to see anything like this; that features this sort of diversity. That was important to me and I decided it would be a good way to infiltrate the mainstream white media and create something new and fresh.

How would you describe Maddie?

Amandla Stenberg: The best way to describe Maddie is that she’s a girl trapped inside her house. I won’t say too much as to why. She’s a girl who’s had to learn to cope with her circumstances and has done it in a positive and creative way and she wants so badly to connect with other people her age. It’s exhilarating for her.

Did you read the novel? Because of her circumstances, did you research the status of that?

Amandla Stenberg: Yes. It was something that I definitely had to think about and research, but at the same time, the movie is very fantastical. We weren’t looking to necessarily create this character with this circumstance. If we were creating a movie that wasn’t a fantasy, we would have explored all of the psychiatric challenges of that and the physical challenges of that specific disease. We weren’t creating a cure, we were creating a fantasy. In constructing the character, it was more about creating a girl that you would want to watch experience these things. This girl who who’s dealing with this difficult circumstance and yet has this celebrity status to her.

How was working with Stella and when you work with a different director, do you pick up anything from them?

Amandla Stenberg: She had a fantastic grasp on the tone she wanted to create. She knew she wanted to create something fresh and that was inspiring to me. She and I had this unspoken agreement about being these black women creating this piece and it was really cool because we had a plan with this. We knew we had to keep certain from the book in it. That was very important, like Maddie’s natural hair/

Can you talk about working with Nick and creating that chemistry that audiences want to see on the screen?

Amandla Stenberg: We met before we started working together but we didn’t spend that much time. I think it just clicked instantaneously and it was clear that we were both on the same page and that we both had a similar outlook on life. That was really a relief. You never know who you would end up with and having to pretend you’re in love with, but we became friends really quickly.

What goes with the films that you want to do?

Amandla Stenberg: In terms of the boys/ men that I’m paired with in films, it’s just coincidence. I wish there were more roles that were nuanced for me. That would couples with different races. It just happens that it’s played out this way. I’m looking for roles and projects that are interesting. That are dynamic and nuanced. It’s very difficult as a black actress, but I’m finding that I’m able to find this niche opening in Hollywood right now where corporations are feeling the need to diversify because of pressures from the public. We’re able to create our own content on social media now. These are the roles available to me. I don’t know what to tell people besides that.

There’s only so much that I as one person can do and I’m trying to do the most that I can through these conduits and it just happens to be a coincidence that white men seem to be playing opposite me. Hopefully as we diversify, we can have content that’s made for everyone featuring a black couple. It so to me now that Hollywood isn’t ready for that because as soon as you put black woman and a black man together in a film, it becomes a film for black people and so it’s interesting trying to find out how to have our content be spread everywhere and not just sold to a niche market.

Emoji Trailer

Trailer 2

Clip – My Mom Sent A Bundt

Clip – He’s Here

Clip – He’s Not A Stranger

Clip – We’re Going Really Fast

Clip – Are You Sure?

Clip – See You At The Bottom

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