Today: April 18, 2024

Star Spotlight: Lupita Nyong’o

This April, Lancome announced that actress, film and music video director Lupita Nyong’o was to be their new ‘face of Lancome’. The announcement secured Lupita’s position as one of the world’s most glamorous and watched new stars. However, as Janet Leigh reports, it’s been an uphill struggle for multi-talented, multi-lingual celebrity who once believed that she was too “dark skinned” to ever be successful in Hollywood …

When Lupita Nyong’o sauntered up on stage to receive her award at the Oscar’s dressed in her custom made, jaw-dropping, Narobi blue Prada gown, that was it. The moment the world realised she had arrived. Since landing the role of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave all of Hollywood seems to have willingly coiled themselves around her little finger and is it any wonder? With her incredible on screen talents the Mexican born, Kenyan raised actress has deservedly climbed her way to A-List status. Her emotionally provocative, mind-blowing performance as the brutalised slave has catapulted her into the limelight earning her 14 award nominations and 28 wins with the cherry on the top being her latest Oscar steal for Best Supporting Actress. Her name is now known throughout households worldwide; it seems strange then that up until a year ago no one had even heard of the ravishing Lupita.

Unlike some of her seasoned co-stars – Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt – 12 Years A Slave was Lupita’s debut Hollywood role. Prior to that the 31 year-old was just like any other newbie, her CV extending as far back as her education on the drama stages in Narobi and Yale University and a handful of television roles. Despite her natural talents fame was nearly not to be for the actress. At 19 Lupita considered the alternative career path of a filmmaker and enrolled on a filmmaking course. In an interview Lupita admitted:

“I didn’t know any successful actors in Kenya, so I felt like I could get away with going to college to study film more easily than I could with saying, “I want to be an actor.” That’s what I did.” – Interview Magazine

The call for acting, however, was apparently too strong and it was in 2012, while still studying at Yale, that Lupita landed the award-winning role that was to change her life.

Following the success of 12 Years a Slave Lupita has gone on to star in the action, mystery, thriller Non-Stop as air stewardess Gwen, working with the likes of Hollywood royalty’s Liam Neeson and Julian Moore. The role has also led to other opportunities for the newcomer.

Splashed across the pages of glossy magazines, Lupita can now add modeling to her growing list of accomplishments. The beauty dazzled in a pallet of bold colours after being chosen as one of the faces for Miu, Miu’s spring campaign along side Elizabeth Olsen and Elle Fanning.

Now hanging out with celebs is fast becoming the norm for Lupita. Earlier this month the Oscar winner was spotted at Paris Fashion week rubbing shoulders with singer Rihanna proving that Lupita is slotting into the role of movie star very nicely.  This is a far cry away from the girl who once felt so uncomfortable in her own skin. Speaking at the Oscar the Best Supporting Actress admitted:

“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned.”

It was not until supermodel Alek Wek emerged giving Lupita the courage she needed to shed the disdain for her dark skin.

Now the stunning Lupita is being lavished in labels from Ralph Lauren to Gucci and of course Prada, all of who adore her sleek hair-do and velvety dark complexion.

Lupita now hopes to be an inspiration. In her Oscar speech she added:

“I hope that my presence on your screens and in magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation for your beauty, but also get to the deeper business of feeling beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”

With big screen roles, modeling gigs, adoration from the industry and fans alike there is no denying Lupita has had a whirlwind initiation into the world of showbiz. Now all eyes on the star and the natural question on every ones lips is, what next? Having dazzled the world with her electric performance Lupita has set the bar high for herself but can the new kid on the block continue on in the same vein? With her ever growing throng of fans routing for her it’s hard to imagine she won’t. No doubt the world will be watching and waiting in anticipation for her next exceptional role.

12 Years A Slave is out on DVD / Blu-ray Monday 12th May 2014.

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