Born Oct. 23, 1998 in Los Angeles, Amandla Stenberg was the daughter of an African-American mother and a Danish father, who chose her distinctive first name because it meant "power" in Zulu. She began her entertainment career doing Disney catalog modeling when she was four, and went on to film national commercials for McDonald's, Walmart, and BuildTheDream.org, a PSA raising funds for a national memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. At the dedication ceremony for the memorial, legendary actress Cicely Tyson introduced Stenberg, who paid tribute to the four little girls who died in the Birmingham church bombing.
Also a musician, Stenberg played the violin, drums and guitar and performed with her school's band at such venues as the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Café. In 2010, she performed ADR for Tyler Perry's hit sequel "Why Did I Get Married Too?" and the following year provided voiceover for an episode of "Falling Skies" (TNT, 2011- ). She made her film debut as the child version of Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) in the action hit Colombiana (2011), the tale of an assassin seeking vengeance on her parents' murderers. Performing some of her own stunts, Stenberg earned notice for her strong screen presence before switching gears with a supporting role in the lightweight Teri Polo made-for-TV charmer "A Taste of Romance" (Hallmark Channel, 2012).
Stenberg made international headlines when it was announced she had landed the coveted part of Rue, the youngest tribute forced to play The Hunger Games (2012) in the dystopian thriller based on the immensely popular trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, the film told the story of a futuristic society where each year 24 young women and men must fight to the death on a gruesome reality show. Without a doubt the most pivotal and tragic figure in the series, Stenberg's innocent, doomed Rue made a powerful impression and earned the young actress glowing reviews as the film itself seemed poised to become a global blockbuster.
By Jonathan Riggs
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