Why Amandla Stenberg Passed On Black Panther

Amandla Stenberg Everything Everything

One of the critical aspects of Ryan Coogler's Black Panther is the film's predominately black cast. White heroes have primarily defined the superhero genre for the bulk of its existence, but Black Panther turns that idea on its head by embracing its emphasis on black African culture. That was one thing that The Hunger Games' Amandla Stenberg noticed when she was in the running for a part in the film, and because the actress is biracial, she ultimately opted to back out and make room for another actress to take the role. In a recent interview, Stenberg said:

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 colour as everyone else in the movie.

It sounds like there was a genuine chance of seeing Amandla Stenberg in Black Panther at one point. However, because she's a biracial actress, she said she felt like it was the wrong move for her to make. One of the core elements of the movie's story is that it uses a large cast of black actors to portray native Africans, and Stenberg seems to think that her presence among that ensemble would've taken away from that appeal.

It's also worth mentioning that Amandla Stenberg's decision to walk away from Black Panther ultimately yielded one of the film's best performances. Stenberg was in the running to portray Shuri, but Letitia Wright's spunky performance as the titular hero's younger sister has become one of the most talked-about aspects of the entire film.

Letitia Wright Shuri Black Panther

Although she ultimately decided to walk away from a film that would go on to become one of the biggest hits in recent memory, Amandla Stenberg doesn't seem to have any regrets about the decision. Elsewhere in her interview with CBC Arts, the Everything, Everything star made sure to note that she understands the fact that there are simply certain avenues of the entertainment industry that she's not meant to inhabit.

That was really challenging, to make that decision, but I have no regrets. I recognize 100% 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.

With all of that said, it's still certainly possible to assume that Amandla Stenberg could show up in a future Black Panther movie. Money talks, after all, and the fact that Disney and Marvel Studios may want to continue investing in the Wakanda corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the near future means there should be room for more characters to enter into the equation. If Black Panther 2 does happen, then it could provide the studio with a means to properly introduce Amandla Stenberg as her own unique personality.

Only time will tell if we will ever get a chance to see Amandla Stenberg in the MCU. Until that day comes, make sure to check out Black Panther, and watch out for the hero's next silver screen appearance when Avengers: Infinity War debuts in theaters for its new release date on April 27!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.