Amandla Stenberg is Now Campaigning for Women of Colour Through Comics
As her next step in championing the empowerment of women of colour, Amandla Stenberg is co-writing NIOBE: She is Life, a comic book series starring half-elven, half-human warrior Niobe Ayutami.
With the help of Halle Berry and Garcelle Beauvais, NIOBE’s publisher Stranger Comics has released I Am Mixed along with others in their children’s book series I Am, which touches on topics like divorce and cultural differences. Now they want to bring Stenberg’s voice and experiences to a character that CEO Sebastian A. Jones has envisioned for over two decades, and whose spirit he sees in her: “a hero that has the weight of the world on her winged shoulders, a woman who will bind nations.”
And Stenberg was just as keen to write Niobe’s tale. “Her story is my story,” she told the Huffington Post. “She is on a path to a destiny that will test her faith and her will, something we can all relate to.” But regardless of this simple truth, there are precious few characters of colour taking centre stage in comics, and even fewer creators of colour having their stories told, uncompromised, through their characters.
“That is one of the reasons I started Stranger Comics and why I actively pursue a diverse range of creators,“ Jones said. "I may be mixed, but I am not a young, black, teenaged woman, so it would have been idiotic and morally insensitive of me to not team up with someone who could really engage with Niobe’s soul and state of being.” He also took on a black illustrator, Ashley A. Woods, for whom NIOBE is her first foray into professional comic art. “Niobe is Amandla,” she agreed, “and I am honored to see them grow together into someone quite special. Someone I can follow. A hero for our time.”
Issue #1 is due for release on November 4th, and while I’m getting hyped up imagining visuals in the vein of Saga and diverse gender-political romps à la Rat Queens, one thing seems certain. We’ve never seen a character quite like Niobe. And if the series needed a tagline to reflect the state of things now, Stenberg, as ever, is spot on: “We need more badass girls!”
Words by Elisabeth O’Neill