The star of the new Star Wars live-action series shares the secrets behind prepping for her galactic debut.

Amandla Stenberg has done her research.

The Anakin Skywalker-loving, Padmé Amidala-cosplaying performer has been a fan of Star Wars since childhood, but they didn’t rely on that base knowledge when she was cast in The Acolyte.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses story details from the two-episode premiere of The Acolyte.

For weeks they’ve been promoting the new Star Wars live-action series, which arrived on Disney+ June 4, answering questions about the assassin Mae, the mysterious masked warrior who is out for revenge against the Jedi Order. For months leading into production, Stenberg trained her body and mind, working on stunt choreography and martial arts movements while creating a dossier for her own character headcanon.

But here’s the twist.

Stenberg’s starring role was revealed early in the campaign, but until recently it was a well-guarded secret that they’re pulling double duty on the series, acting not only as Mae, but also portraying the role of her twin sister, Osha.

The actor was series creator Leslye Headland’s first choice for the two parts, after the filmmaker watched Stenberg’s gut-wrenching portrayal of Starr Carter in The Hate U Give, brilliantly executed in stark contrast to her joyful demeanor in interviews that showcased her real personality. “Amandla floated to the top of the list practically immediately,” Headland tells “I will never forget meeting with her. Just in the back of my mind, like, ‘Oh, God. If she doesn’t do this, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’”

To celebrate the arrival of the two-episode premiere on Disney+ last week, we asked Stenberg to introduce her dual roles for the series centered on duality and the moral gray area between good and evil.

Two sisters

The sisters may look alike, but Stenberg’s approach to the roles treated them as their own unique characters. “They’re twins that are energetically very different from each other,” Stenberg tells “I like to think of them as yin and yang. They’ve had very different life experiences that have taken them on different journeys.”

Watch closely and you’ll see the nuance of Stenberg’s performance as her mannerisms shift to embody Mae and Osha. Behind the scenes, Stenberg worked to craft the twinned personas, writing up their own headcanon for the young women and identifying different scents, different songs, and different gaits to help her drop into each character. “Scent is really connected to memory, so that was a shortcut to remind me where I was. The first thing that I focused on was their walk,” Stenberg says. “Yang is masculine and bright, and that’s Osha in my mind. Yin is feminine, dark and mysterious, and that’s Mae.”

While Headland and her writing team were working on Mae and Osha’s story in the series, Stenberg created her own PowerPoint presentation on what they thought the sisters had endured. “I did a lot of backstory work,” she says. “I have [character] bibles with me on set because things move so fast and you’re always shooting out of order. I always have this packet of information to ground me back into the characters.”

For Mae, Erykah Badu’s “The Healer” played on repeat to get Stenberg ready to embody the warrior. For Osha, it was a playlist featuring Aphex Twin. “There’s something mathematical about it,” Stenberg says of the latter. “Osha is a very practical person and her relationship to things is very tactile. She loves droids, she loves ships, she loves things she can touch and fix. She loves technology. She’s very rooted in the world of math and science.”

Training to fight

And, of course, the physical training was an essential part of embodying Mae in particular, Stenberg says. “It takes a whole family to make a stunt sequence,” they note. Stunt supervisor Mark Ginther and action designer Christopher Clark Cowan worked to block out and choreograph the hand-to-hand combat sequences, while stunt performer and assistant fight coordinator Lu Junchang took Stenberg and the rest of the cast on as Padawans of sorts. “Lu was my Master; he taught me everything that I could possibly need to know. Six weeks ahead of production we were in the stunt gym, drilling basics, really working on hip placement, punch drills, kick drills, combos, boxing, and then practicing with my knife,” Stenberg says.

The opening noodle shop battle with Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) glimpsed in the trailers was the first full fight sequence Stenberg learned for the part, working in tandem with her stunt doubles, Cassie Jo Craig and Kellina Rutherford, “who became like my sisters” Stenberg says. “We always trained together. We practiced choreo together. We mirrored each other’s bodies a lot of the time. We were side by side. Even though the show’s about twins, we were kind of like triplets.”

Now, with the arrival of the first two episodes in the series, the world is just getting to meet Mae and Osha. Stenberg can’t wait to introduce you to them.

Hear more from the cast of The Acolyte and series creator Leslye Headland.

Watch Star Wars: The Acolyte, with new episodes each Tuesday on Disney+.


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