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Amandla Stenberg on why Grimes inspires them

As their Stella McCartney fragrance drops, the actor and director discusses their heroes and their upcoming projects

In March, Stella McCartney unveiled the all-star line-up for her new sustainable fragrance, “POP’. It includes Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon and model Kenya Kinski-Jones, as well as two former Dazed cover stars: alt-pop star Grimes and actor-slash-director Amandla Stenberg. Shot by Glen Luchford (the photographer behind Gucci’s revamp), the four make a formidable group. As the fragrance drops, Stenberg (who prefers they/them gender pronouns) tells us more about this campaign, the women who inspire them and their upcoming projects.

When McCartney approached Stenberg about the ad, they didn’t need much convincing – “I realised that it was very special, especially with the people involved and the ideas behind it,” they say, “It has this feminist energy to it which is really dope.” This was helped by the fact that the actor, who made their silver screen debut playing Rue in The Hunger Games, holds the designer in high regard. “I follow her work,” they say. “She’s awesome, and she has this energy that’s super magnetic. She’s funny too, and she curses like a sailor! She’s kind of like an older sister or aunt to me.”

Continuing on the topic of people who inspire her, Stenberg cites Solange Knowles – “I really look up to (her), I’m blessed to know her.” However they also rate their fellow campaign stars – “They’re really, really cool. Grimes is unreal! She has my heart, she’s so cool! It’s been awesome getting to know her and learning about how she makes music and how she does everything herself. When I met her she was actually editing the video for “Kill V. Maim”, and she was editing it herself on her computer on Final Cut Pro! I found that so inspiring... she weighs her own artistic integrity so much.”

“When I met (Grimes) she was actually editing the video for “Kill V. Maim”, and she was editing it herself on her computer on Final Cut Pro! I found that so inspiring... she weighs her own artistic integrity so much” – Amandla Stenberg

Artistic integrity is something Stenberg has too. Having recieved widespread attention for her now-viral video about cultural appropriation titled Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows, Stenberg is continuing to unpick race, gender and sexuality through film. “I just worked on this movie called As You Are, which is this story about these two teenagers in the 90s growing up, exploring their sexualities, their identities and friendship,” they say. “We went to Sundance for that which was so much fun, and we ended up getting the Special Jury Prize, which was awesome – so exciting!”

This year they’ve also appeared in Beyoncé’s politically-charged new visual album Lemonade (alongside Quvenzhané Wallis, Serena Williams, Winnie Harlow and Zendaya) and is set to star in The Hate U Give, a film based on the Black Lives Matter movement. Now enrolled on New York University’s Film course, Stenberg told us they want to focus on “stories that feature and star people of colour no matter their gender, maybe they’re non-binary... I feel like there’s a lack of representation for different kinds of people, and so I want to provide that.”

“POP” is available from House of Fraser.