Like almost everybody else under age twenty, Eva Hattie Schueler has read the Hunger Games trilogy. “I read them all in the last three or four months,” says the Community High School junior, “once all the way through, and then I went back and read the first two three times.”
Schueler was eager to see the movie too–until she heard who was playing the teenage heroine. “I really love Jennifer Lawrence as actress, but she’s white with blonde hair, and the character is supposed to have olive skin and dark hair. When I read the books, if I thought about it at all, I thought ‘Oh, this character is a Native American.'”
A writer for The Communicator, Community High’s student-run newspaper, Schueler wrote an op-ed piece on the subject. This attracted a degree of local notice–“people I didn’t know told me it was well written”–and then national notice when HuffingtonPost.com called to ask if they could run the piece.
“They contacted our editors, and said, ‘You’re a good site, we’d like to put some of your stuff up on our site.’ They were looking for edgy stuff for their teenage page, and this caught someone’s eye,” says Schueler. Before you could say “Katniss,” her piece was a hit, relatively speaking.
“I got like seventy comments since it went up two weeks ago,” Schueler said in April. “Some people thought I was attacking Jennifer Lawrence, which of course I wasn’t. But a couple of people picked up on my point that the casting call was only for Caucasian girls, that it was always out of the question to cast an actress of color to get the role.”
Schueler isn’t the only Communicator writer on the Huffington Post site. “Other writers have gotten picked up, though not that often,” says Sarah Kerson, a senior and an editor at the paper. “I’ve had two published on the Huffington Post.”
Being picked up by the national website brought the students some fame, but it didn’t make their fortunes. HuffPo paid them exactly what the Communicator did: nothing.