Amandla Stenberg & Janelle Monae Talk Gender Fluid Pronouns, The Election & Getting Rid of Smart Phones
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The recent Teen Vogue piece where Janelle Monae had the opportunity to interview Amandla Stenberg was a love fest with the two women exclaiming how much they admire and inspire one another. But in between the fangirling, the two touched on a couple of really interesting topics like what pronouns should we use for Amandla, where each of them was when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States and why Amandla got rid of her iPhone.
Check out the highlights below.
JANELLE MONÁE: Hi, sweetie. You know I love, love, love you. First: pronouns! I want to make sure that I’m being respectful of how I’m referring to you. I know that the way we view ourselves and how we want to be addressed can change depending on where we are in life.
AS: I love that you asked me! Thank you. I have felt at times that she/her pronouns weren’t entirely fitting, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable with them. It’s more important for me to open up that conversation around pronouns and how gender itself is a construct that doesn’t make much sense in our society.
Where were you during the election?
AS: I was shooting a scene in Where Hands Touch, a film about a biracial girl growing up during the Holocaust. In the scene, my character’s papers get taken away by a Nazi officer and the officer yells in her face, basically telling her that she does not belong in her own country. An actor playing a Nazi soldier took out his phone to refresh the news and announced that Trump was president. I was actually seeing this come out of the mouth out of an actor dressed in a Nazi uniform. Immediately, I excused myself because I felt like I couldn’t breathe anymore. I started sobbing. It was shocking. It made me really question how we could reach a point where our country is so divided. The director, Amma Asante, came to check on me, and she told me that progress is like a coil you have to go down in order to circle back up again. That’s how it’s worked throughout history. That’s how it will continue to work.
JM: I empathize with you there. I was in Georgia, and on the outskirts of Atlanta, there are parts where we still have the KKK riding to little black girls’ birthday parties, burning crosses and performing hate crimes. After the results were announced, I thought, Am I going to be safe?
Getting rid of her smartphone
AS: Amid all of the chaos in the world right now, it’s so important that everyone actively works to preserve their mental health so that we’re able to heal and create change. I got rid of my iPhone, and that was essential in preserving my mental health. Now I have a flip phone that I just use to talk to people and hear their actual voices. I’m worried about the mental health effects of smartphones and social media on kids because it is one large social experiment that we don’t know the outcome of. I see a lot of people around my age who are really unhappy or experiencing disconnection from reality because they base so much of their existence on the Internet and on their interactions with people they might not even know. It creates such unreal expectations for what we think our lives should be. I feel like now is the time to stand tall and feel 100 percent comfortable in my skin even though I’m occupying a space that I know historically wasn’t built for me.
You can read the full interview on Teen Vogue.