Lupita Nyong’o has quickly become a recognizable person in the world of Hollywood. She has few films under her belt since she got her degree in film in 2003. Nyong’o’s fiery personality, bold fashion choices, and passion she puts into her work have given her a lot of attention. Nyong’o has quite a bit to show off in her resume, but everything was not always easy for her. Being the strong woman that she is, Lupita was able to overcome the struggles she faced in her childhood to be a great actress. It was inevitably her perseverance and passion that made her so successful. Here is all you need to know on the young star.
Before Nyong’o was born, her parents were both subject to political exile, which is when they decided to flee from Kenya to Mexico. Nyong’o was born on March 3, 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico. Once the turmoil from the political exile her parents experienced died down, the trio was able to return to Kenya where Nyong’o grew up for the majority of her childhood. Nyong’o returned to Mexico when she was sixteen so that she could learn Spanish; not only can she now speak Spanish, Swahili, conversational Italian, and her native Luo, she speaks English as well! This girl has a lot to say! Nyong’o then came to America to get her degree in acting. She attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and got her diploma in 2003. Nyong’o did have experience in acting with everything from playing Juliet in a Kenyan theater at age fourteen to appearing on Shuga, a Kenyan television show that tried to promote safe-sex relationships and HIV awareness. Something she had never done before was directing, editing, or filming a production, but she did all of those things in 2009 when she produced, edited and filmed In My Genes, a documentary that followed the lives of Kenyans living with Albinism. Three years later, Nyong’o decided to further her education and get her master’s degree from Yale School of Drama in 2012. It was only a few weeks before graduation that Nyong’o found out that she was casted in the film that would change her life, Twelve Years a Slave.
Twelve Years a Slave, a movie directed by Steve McQueen, is based off of the real life experiences of a man named Solomon Northup. Northup was a freed man who was living with his wife and two kids in New York. He was a passionate musician and was tricked by two white men to come with them to play in their group. He was kidnapped and later sold back into slavery. Nyong’o plays Patsey, a slave who was forced into a sadistic relationship with her master. Patsey and Solomon are friends and work hard in the fields. While being interviewed by RollingStone.com, she told them how passionate she was about her role as Patsey. She said, “The first thing was of course doing the research. Solomon Northup's book gave so many clues about who this woman is. There's a line where he says, ‘Patsey had an air of loftiness that neither labor nor lash could rid her of.’ And on the other end of Patsey is her wish to die. My research took me first to the Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore. When I walked in the door, the first thing I saw was a 500-pound bale of cotton, and it was taller than me and it was thicker than me and I felt like Patsey's loftiness was staring me in the face. Patsey's a woman who was fighting through her pain, not wallowing in it, even when she asks to die.” It was the passion and effort that Nyong’o put into her role as Patsey that earned her the Critics’ Choice Movie Award Best Supporting Actress in 2014 along with a slew of other awards from the film. She was also named People’s Most Beautiful Person in 2014. Nyong’o broke a color barrier that she never imagined she would be able to. She was being seen as a respected actress, not just for the color of her skin. 2014 was the year Nyong’o became a face that people recognized.
Nyong’o is not only an amazing actress but has also become a fashion icon. One of her signature looks is her short, natural hair. Nyong’o shaved her head when she was nineteen years old after she was tired of spending so much of her time with grooming. Since then, Nyong’o has done tapered, asymmetrical, geometric and side parts in her hair. Her style is based off of sharp lines and bold colors. She can rock everything from a pant suit to a floor-length dress with confidence!
Nyong’o is a woman who is not afraid to say where she comes from. She grew up in a community that force-fed her the thought that her skin was not beautiful, her natural hair was not acceptable, and she would not make a name for herself. She uses her past struggles to fuel her passion in her acting. With everything that she has been through, Nyong’o wants to use her platform to inspire others. In an interview by Vogue she told them, “Being able to use my platform to expand diversity and the African voice...I feel passionate about that. It feels so intentional, meaningful.” Nyong’o is an inspiration to us all.
You can look forward to seeing Nyong’o in Disney’s Queen of Katawe this year and Rian Johnson’s upcoming film Star Wars: Episode VIII in 2017.