*Newcomers Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi have joined the cast of Lionsgate’s big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games novels.
The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem – where North America once stood. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region Appalachia.
As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event in which the participants, or “tributes”, must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains.
The story follows fatherless 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose.
Stenberg and Okeniyi will play the District 11 tributes, Rue and Thresh, respectively. In the book, Rue becomes Katniss’ eventual ally, but things get hairy at the end of the Games for the 12-year-old girl. Thresh, in the book, is known to be an intimidating and physically strong tribute.
They join previously cast District 12 tributes, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), along with Katniss’ hunting partner Gale (Liam Hemsworth).
Stenberg recently finished filming “Colombiana,” starring Zoe Saldana. Okeniyi has starred in the short film “Eyes to See.”
“Hunger Games,” under director Gary Ross and produced by Nina Jacobsen, will be in theaters March 23, 2012.