A little girl all of seven-years-old sat next to me on the subway this afternoon. While we rode the L from 14th street to Bedford we started chatting about the neat, colourful unicorn headband she was wearing. Social structures had told her to be wary of strangers, her inquisitiveness, however, was evident as she asked her father if the adjacent train was part of the C line or the E.
The experience reminded me of last week’s interview with 19-year-old The Darkest Minds actress Amandla Stenberg. Her current film explores a pack of teenagers who, when they each develop a strange set of powers, are deemed dangerous by the government and sent to detainment camps. Ruby (Stenberg) and her friends band together to stand up to an administration threatening to take away their futures. It’s timely at best.
When I was Stenberg’s age, the world was a very different place. At 24, I joined the streets of Paris, which were flooded with thousands of people, to celebrate Bastille Day without fear we were terror targets. Instagram didn’t exist. On the flip-side, we hadn’t ever seen a female run for Congress, racial diversity did exist but was never talked about. And Twitter wasn’t around to call-out monsters like Harvey Weinstein. We’ve come so far and yet we’ve still got a lot of work to do.
I asked Stenberg, in twelve years time – when she’s my age – what change does she hope will come about for young women in the United States. Her response blew me away in the same way I’m sure Beyoncé was blown away upon meeting her. “I hope that we still have full control of our reproductive rights,” Stenberg begins, taking a big breath. “I hope that we would have achieved full equity when it comes to pay. I hope that we will be receiving the benefits that we need to raise our children and to take care of our bodies. I hope that we have a female president. And I hope that our society reflects a world where the spectrum of gender is understood and encompassed and women don’t feel the need to play a certain feminine role.”
Stenberg says we are facing a problem whereby society is fighting for a government to mirror their own morals and values. And just like that – just like the unicorn on the headband – Stenberg represents hope; hope for the future generation like the girl on the subway. What the world needs is more Stenbergs.
The Darkest Minds is in Australian cinemas now.