Throughout Star Wars' history on Disney+, the franchise has largely been faithful to the more familiar eras of the Star Wars Timeline. For instance, The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett occur between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, while both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor take place between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. However, that's all about to change with the High Republic-era Disney+ series The Acolyte which was reportedly built around actress, Amandla Stenberg.
Stenberg is no stranger to blockbuster franchises. Her first breakout role was in 2012's The Hunger Games as the young, 12-year-old tribute Rue.
In the years that followed, Stenberg has starred in The Hate U Give, Dear Evan Hansen, and most recently, Bodies Bodies Bodies, while also generating both negative and positive attention for outspokenness and activism on social media.
On the heels of the release of Bodies Bodies Bodies and ahead of The Acolyte, Stenberg has opened up about her experiences with cancel culture and how she doesn't expect it to end anytime soon.
Star Wars' The Acolyte Actress Comments on Cancel Culture
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about her personal experience with cancel culture, Amandla Stenberg answered the question "Do I care that I have been canceled?" while also confessing that it's likely her "fate."
“I consider myself one of the lucky ones because now I don’t have to live with some perverse, distorted Catholic guilt. This guilt that seems to derive from the Catholic Church around if I am a good person or not. The world decided that I’m not going to Heaven, so I’m fine with that. See you in hell!”
In regard to criticism over her choice of roles and personal stances, Stenberg explained that the fact she likes "to speak openly about the person that I am" is what "invites some canceling from the far right:"
“I like to speak openly about the person that I am, and that invites some canceling from the far right. Then there are folks on the far left who think that I have done things that have not been inclusive, or that I have unfairly taken up space within media, or that I’m in cahoots with the entertainment industry when it comes to representation of Blackness.”
As to how she deals with the backlash from all directions, the Star Wars actress says "that's just my fate:"
“I don’t know. I’ve been canceled so many times but from so many different angles, from so many different sides of politics. That has really shown me that that’s just my fate.”
In addition to drawing criticism for her choice of roles and personal statements, Stenberg addressed the issue of her being offered more roles and taking parts as a lighter-skinned biracial Black actress as "all things I cannot control:"
“If we lived in a culture in which people read or listened, then I think I would care a lot more. But it doesn’t really matter how many times I express my true perspective on colorism or how many ways I try to decenter the privilege that I have, or it doesn’t matter how I try to virtue-signal that outwardly. Outside the bounds of my community, it’s not really my business. If I’m moving responsibly and ethically and with radical care in my immediate community, that’s all I’m really concerned about at this point.”
In addition to talking about the cancel culture she's personally experienced, Stenberg also shared her thoughts on canceling characters on the big screen.
Not only does she not "want to watch things about good people," but the actress claims that canceling bad characters can be "detrimental to what film is supposed to be about, which is putting terrible people on screens and laughing at them sometimes when necessary.”
She further noted that doing so is a "healthy way for us to expel our demons:"
"That’s a very healthy way for us to expel our demons. If we can take our demons and splash them across the silver screen and take a good look at them, maybe we can be more aware of them, and maybe we can laugh while we do it, and then the ego death comes a little easier."
How Stenberg's Stance Connects to The Acolyte
While canceling has affected a number of stars in recent years, Stenburg's not wrong when admitting that it's her fate.
Not only does social media provide the opportunity to publically criticize individuals, but it's also an opportunity to express views and beliefs that others disagree with. You can't have one without the other. And, since Stenberg likes "to speak openly," she explained it best when saying that "invites some canceling."
It is interesting to hear her address the backlash she receives from all different sides, as well as her views on not wanting to cancel bad or villainous characters in film, especially since The Acolyte is expected to highlight the Dark Side.
While little is known about the upcoming series, it's assumed that The Acolyte will focus on a character being taught the ways of the Sith during the time when the Dark Side begins to grow stronger.
The Acolyte is expected to release in 2023 on Disney+.