The Acolyte’s Amandla Stenberg is unbothered by haters dubbing new Star Wars series ‘woke’

Amandla Stenberg wears a black lacy head covering while on the red carpet premiere of Star Wars: The Acolyte.

Amandla Stenberg knows that some Star Wars fans have dubbed the new Disney+ series The Acolyte “woke”, but she couldn’t care less.

Star Wars: The Acolyte, which premieres on Disney+ this week, has faced a predictable backlash from some fans of the juggernaut sci-fi saga because of some of the actors cast.

Gay, Black actress Stenberg, who came out as non-binary in 2016 and uses she/they pronouns, stars as twin sisters Osha and Mae, while Ladhood‘s Abigail Thorn has made history by becoming the franchise’s first trans actress.

Thorn plays Ensign Eurus in the new series.

Alongside Stenberg, other The Acolyte’s stars also identify as LGBTQ+, such as gay Chicago Fire and Arrow actor Charlie Barnett, and lesbian Single Drunk Female actress, Rebecca Henderson.

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Speaking to British GQ, Stenberg brushed off the “woke” suggestions, saying she laughs at those who are up in arms.

“There’s a vast array of Star Wars fans. There is a specific kind of Star Wars fan [who’s] very vocal on the internet,” she said. “They’ve called our show The Woke-alyte, which I’m like, ‘OK, what about it?’”

Amandla Stenberg in Star Wars: The Acolyte.
Amandla Stenberg plays twin sisters Osha and Mae in Star Wars: The Acolyte. (YouTube/Star Wars/Disney+)

Speaking about the discrimination she has faced in general – as a 14 year-old, she endured a barrage of racist trolling after being cast as Rue in The Hunger Games in 2012 – the My Animal actress said: “Prejudice, on some level, of course, it affects me, even if it’s subconsciously, and there’s work that I need to do around that to protect myself. But in my conscious mind, it doesn’t bother me, because I think it’s stupid and kind of funny.

“A lot of it that we see these days comes from a place of fear and desperation… the needle is shifting very rapidly, and it makes those who have been in traditional positions of comfort and power very uncomfortable, and they’re vocal about it.”

She went on to praise some social media users, particularly Black Star Wars fans, who have gone out of their way to be “loving and supportive” since her casting in the sci-fi series was announced.

Speaking to The New York Times last month, The Acolyte’s gay creator Leslye Headland, who is married to Stenberg’s co-star Henderson, said: “I stand by my empathy for Star Wars fans, but I want to be clear: anyone who engages in bigotry, racism or hate speech… I don’t consider a fan.”

Episode one and two of Star Wars: The Acolyte are streaming now on Disney+ now in the US and from tomorrow (5 June) in the UK. New episodes will be available every week. 

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