Exclusive Interview: Amandla Stenberg at Toys R Us in NYC

img_20120818_100031-1Yesterday our admin Jessica attended Amandla Stenberg’s appearance at the Toys R Us in Times Square and interviewed the budding actress with sister fansites Mockingjay.net, HG Fireside Chat, and Down with the Capitol. Check out pictures from the event in an earlier post.

Amandla discussed her love of Hunger Games merchandise, her chat with Suzanne Collins about Rue’s death scene, and who she’d like to play in Catching Fire (her answer may surprise you!). She is very well spoken and down-to-earth. We had an amazing time talking to Amandla.

Fansites: You look and sound just like Rue. Has anyone ever told you that?
Amandla: They’ll be like, you know, you look a lot like that actress from The Hunger Games. And I’m like, really? [laughs]

Fansites: What do you say to people when they say that?
Amandla: I guess they automatically say that … that there is no possible way that they could run into the actual actress.
I like your [miniature Hunger Games book] earrings.

Fansites: Thank you! We decided last night that they should open and have little quotes inside. Do you like stuff like that? Do you collect the merchandise?
Amandla: My entire book shelf is covered in Hunger Games merchandise. And I don’t want it to see my Phen375 results like I’m really self involved … I actually am obsessed with this series. I’m a true fan myself.

Fansites: How many times have you read The Hunger Games?
Amandla: I’ve read it five times. I know the book inside and out.

Fansites: Do you feel like you’re going to be a fan now watching the next three movies?
Amandla: Definitely. Definitely. I’m so excited for the next three movies – I can’t wait to see them. I think Catching Fire’s such a crazy book, the movie is going to be so insane.

Fansites: So how do you feel having your own action figure now?
Amandla: [laughs] It’s really cool to play with a mini version of myself. I get out the other Barbies and interact with them.

Fansites: I want the Barbies!
Amandla: They’re really cool. I mean, all the merchandise is really cool. You know the magnets you put on your fridge with the words and you scramble them around and make sentences? So we found the Hunger Games version of it here, and we bought it.

Fansites: Have you seen the behind-the-scenes footage yet?
Amandla: I have not, actually. I don’t have a DVD either. I saw the Tribute diaries – they sent it to us to approve it. So I saw the press tour and all of that. That was really fun to watch because you know we’re all filming each other with flip cams. And I also saw, they have this kind of slideshow pictures with us on set, so that was really fun to see. But I have not seen the entire three hours.

Fansites: In a recent interview, Dayo said that you filmed the District 11 reaping?
Amandla: Oh, yes, we did! I wish that could have been in there. But actually, Steven Soderbergh directed it, which is really exciting. I mean he’s such a fantastic director, but I got to work with him, even though they didn’t show the actual testofuel results footage. But that scene was really cool. They had the entire District 11 that you see in the mini uprising after Rue’s death. They had the whole stage and the mentors and everything, so it was pretty cool.

Fansites: Are you looking forward to seeing Rue’s family in Catching Fire?
Amandla: I’m definitely excited to see that. That’d be fun to see. Definitely. To see little Rue’s brothers and sisters.

Fansites: If you could choose one character in the books to not die (besides Rue), who would you pick to save?
Amandla: I think … oh, I don’t know. I think I’d probably choose Thresh. First because Dayo is really awesome. [laughs] Dayo is a really great actor so that’d be good for his career. Secondly I think Thresh is such a good character. I could see him forming in the lines with Katniss and helping in the war later on.

Fansites: If you could be cast as anyone in Catching Fire, who would you want to play?
Amandla: Probably … I don’t know. I think, either Finnick … probably Finnick, yeah. Finnick is just like, so “look at me.”

Fansites: Who do you want to play Finnick?
Amandla: I really have no idea. I think I’ll be happy with anyone really.

Fansites: Do you have any favorite memories from being on set that you hope make it onto the DVD?
Amandla: Oh yeah, they were shooting 24/7, so I think a lot should be on there. My favorite memories are probably us just joking around on set. Hopefully maybe you can see us singing and dancing and having fun. And we also had some dance parties in my trailer.

Fansites: What music were you playing at these dance parties?
Amandla: We were playing Lil’ Wayne, some Chris Brown, some Pink. You know, the classics. [laughs]

Fansites: What’s one scene that you wish Rue was in that she was not in? If she could just be in a cool scene.
Amandla: I think probably, you know the scene where Effie comes up to Katniss and says “that was fantastic.” I think probably that scene because I was actually there on set and it was just so cool to watch Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz and Elizabeth Banks and all the actors do the scene because they’re all so talented. So I think it would have been really fun to be a part of that.

Fansites: How much time do you spend looking at what fans have to say on Tumblr and Twitter?
Amandla: I try not to look at it too much because I don’t want to get sucked into that. But occasionally I do look at Tumblr and I laugh so hard at the things people write and the edits they make. I saw this review of phenq around Christmas time and they made Rudolph, and it was me with a red nose and ears and everything. So yeah, I do love seeing those kind of things.

Fansites: Who did you become closest with on set?
Amandla: I don’t think I could choose. That’d be like choosing a sibling, because we all became really close.

Fansites: Are you able to see a lot of the other Tribute actors?
Amandla: Yeah, we still hang out tons. We always see each other. And it can be hard because we’re all actors, so, you know, we’re always going off to shoot a movie. Or Willow lives in New Mexico, so we only see her when she comes into LA. But we still all hang out as much as we can.

Fansites: When you’re not shooting, what do you do to let loose?
Amandla: I play violin. And I spend way too much time on my computer. And I love to read as well.

Fansites: I was wondering if you read any other YA books, or if you have any that you’re reading now.
Amandla: You know, Nevermore just came out, from the Maximum Ride series. So I bought it and I’m obsessed with it.

Fansites: Do you like fantasy [books] a lot?
Amandla: I love fantasy.

Fansites: Are you aware of some of the inside jokes, like the “that is mahogany”?
Amandla: Yes. [laughs] I know all of the Hunger Games jokes. I like when they take songs and turn them into Hunger Games.

Fansites: Like “Set Fire to the Rain”?
Amandla: Yes! I love those.

Fansites: What do you think of Haymitch and Effie? Is there anything going on there?
Amandla: I don’t know…you think they have a secret…like the hate is fake.

Fansites: Some fans have speculated…
Amandla: [laughs]

Fansites: How do you think Rue would have done in the Quarter Quell?
Amandla: I think she is pretty quick, so I guess she could make her way around the arena every day. I guess she’d do pretty well. She’d probably find water.

Fansites: Have you ever lived or spent time in Denmark?
Amandla: I’ve spent time in Denmark, yeah. Because my dad is from Denmark, and so we always visit friends and family. I love Denmark so much. I think we’ll have to go back soon because it’s been awhile.

Fansites: I wonder if you’ll be really famous there. Probably.
Amandla: [laughs] That’d be awesome. I don’t know Danish, but I got a Rosetta Stone. So I’m going to do it. I said I would do it this summer and I forgot to do it.

Fansites: Do you know how to say anything in Danish?
Amandla: I know “hej hej” [sounds like hi hi], which is goodbye. I know how to say “what a bunch of nonsense” because my dad says it a lot.

Fansites: If it had been reversed in the movie, what sort of send-off do you think Rue would have given to Katniss?
Amandla: Oh, I don’t know. I think the crazy bulk is good maybe she would have done the same thing. You know, like covered her in flowers. Oh, that’s so sad! Now I know how you guys feel. Yeah, I guess Rue would do the same thing.

Fansites: Did you ask questions to Suzanne Collins about Rue?
Amandla: Yeah, I talked to her about the character. She came to set around the death scene, and I asked her about Rue and I asked her “is this how you imagined the scene?” And she was like “yes, exactly, it’s perfect.” And it was just so great to hear that. And then I also talked to her about Rue in that scene. And she told me, you know, Rue is feeling like although she didn’t want to die and she’s terrified, she also tried to be brave for Katniss because she wants Katniss to have hope and go on and win the Games. And so yeah, we talked about that.

Fansites: On your way back to LA, if you had a choice, would you rather go by Capitol train or hovercraft?
Amandla: I think the Capitol train is a little more lavish. The hovercraft is pretty awesome, but I don’t really need to be, like, injected and all that stuff.