Black Panther stars beautiful brown skin stars such as Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, with their rich complexions being a vital piece of imagery within the context of the film. Actress Amandla Stenberg, 19, understood this while auditioning for a role in the blockbuster, saying she withdrew from the casting process because of her lighter skin tone.
In an interview with CBC Arts’ Amanda Parris, Stenberg shared that while she was close to being cast, she recognized the importance of reserving spaces for darker actors in a film heavily set in Africa.
“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.”
She continued, “These are all dark skin actors playing Africans, and I feel like it would have just been off to see me as a biracial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie.”
While it wasn’t an easy decision for the wise-beyond-her-years actress, she knows ultimately it was for the best.
“That was really challenging, to make that decision, but I have no regrets. I recognize 100 percent 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.”
While she didn’t reveal the specific role she was almost offered, fans online speculate it would have been for King T’Challa’s sister, tech genius Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.