Kwaku Alston/ESSENCE
Jeff Labrecque
April 03, 2012 AT 03:00 PM EDT

Amandla Stenberg won our hearts playing Rue in The Hunger Games. The 13-year-old wasn’t just adorable — despite being pitted against older warriors in a fight to the death — but her character’s demise was the moment that captured all the tragedy of Suzanne Collins’ book.

It’s no surprise that Stenberg’s mother has played a guiding role in her daughter’s career, and Essence‘s upcoming May issue is a joyful celebration of the bond between mother and child. “My mom reminds me that all things are possible,” said Stenberg. “If I’m feeling unsure, she’ll say, ‘Hey, you’re Rue!’ Within months after reading the novel The Hunger Games, I went from telling my mom that I could see myself as this character to actually getting the role. My mother reminds me that if I could manifest such an important role just because I wanted it so much, all of my dreams are possible.”

Click below for a larger version of Amandla and her mother, Karen Brailsford.

The May issue of Essence, with Mother’s Day images of football star Victor Cruz, supermodel Beverly Johnson, award-winning writer Alice Walker, screen gem Jayne Kennedy, and more, hits newsstands on April 12.

Read more:

Five exclusive ‘Hunger Games’ photos

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