Amandla Stenberg Opens Up About Bringing Diversity to The Darkest Minds

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20th Century Fox

If you’re familiar with author Alexandra Bracken‘s dystopian novel, The Darkest Minds, you know that main character Ruby Daly, a girl who has telepathic abilities and accidentally erased her parents’ memories on her 10th birthday, is described as having light skin, dark brown hair and green eyes. While many films are whitewashed before they head to the big screen, it’s actually opposite in the case of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming adaptation of the YA story.

Amandla Stenberg, a woman of color, is the actress portraying Ruby in TDM and says the decision to cast a diverse lead was one of the reasons why she signed onto the project so quickly. We were fortune enough to visit the flick’s set in Atlanta, Georgia, last year and chat with the 19-year-old about this incredible choice.

“They knew they really wanted to cast a diverse lead, a person of color in the role,” she told us. “So their first kind of inspiration was to look towards me. I met with Jennifer [Yuh Nelson], the director. I think we talked for hours and went through some of the scenes with Ruby. That was it, pretty much. It was a very fast, quick process.”

Amandla acknowledges that she is in “a very special position,” being a black actress cast in a role that was originally intended to be portrayed by a white woman.

“I feel like I’m put in a very special position where I’m one of the first actresses of this time to be able to do that and to take roles that would traditionally go to white people, which is really crazy and really a blessing,” she said.

The teenager added, regarding the potential to have yet another YA-movie with a white lead, “It’s time to switch it up a bit.”

A heroine rises. Ruby. #TheDarkestMinds

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“I don’t think we get to see these kinds of stories that often where a black girl is the lead. I don’t necessarily think we need another one with another white girl. Even though I love those stories and respect them. I just think it’s time to switch it up a bit.”

We could not agree more! Be sure to check out The Darkest Minds when it hits theaters on August 3rd.