In the first Hunger Games movie, actress Amandla Stenberg stole our hearts as Rue, the 12-year-old tribute from District 11 who was a lot tougher than she looked. Now 17, Stenberg is all grown up and and channeling her inner warrior again with the comic book, Niobe: She is Life ($3.99; strangercomics.com).
After learning about the character Niobe in The Untamed series by Stranger Comics, the actress joined forces with co-founder Sebastian Jones to imagine a new story that would entertain and empower young women. "Niobe is my kind of girl—fierce and powerful," Stenberg tells InStyle. "We often hear about the hero's journey, but that hero is rarely a girl and certainly not one of color. I want girls to know that they can be at the center of a big story—their own lives—and they don't have to be marginalized."
Stenberg's background (African-American and Danish) helped her relate to Niobe, who is half-elf and half-human. "There was a time when I didn't embrace my racial identity as wholeheartedly as I do now," she says. "So it appealed to me to explore a character who is dealing with the fallout from being two different races."
The actress also made sure to put some of that Hunger Games know-how to good use as she was writing. "Rue and Niobe both possess depth, grace, cleverness, and fierceness that is awe-inspiring," she says. "Of course, Rue's demise was sad and poignant, making her the heart of the movie. Niobe is fierce, but I wanted to inject a subtle vulnerability into her, a little bit of Rue."
And if Stenberg has her way, this will just be the start of Niobe's journey. She's already busy working on a second comic book, due out in February. The next stop? Live action. "I would love to see Niobe on both the big screen and the small screen one day," she says.