“…No matter where you are from, your dreams are still valid”
Lupita Nyong’o became an overnight sensation after she said those words on accepting the 2013 Best Supporting actress Oscar Award for her role of Patsy in the film 12 years a slave. This was a major fete for her being a first timer in the Academy Awards.
Before then little had been known about the daughter of the Kenyan politician Professor Anyang Nyong’o and Mrs. Dorothy Nyong’o who is a communications Specialist.
Born in Mexico in 1983, her parents gave her a Spanish name Lupita; as it is a Luo tradition to name a child after the events of the day. This name is derived from that of the Saint of Guadalupe and is a very popular Mexican given to girls.
In her first major film project, she did not begin as an actor but as a producer!
In 2008, Lupita worked on a documentary called“In My Genes” which portrayed the struggles that People living with albinism in Kenya face. In this project she was the sole Writer, Producer and Director. Her documentary got featured in a number of Film festivals around the World and eventually and it won her an award at the 2008 Five College Film Festival!
It was after this that Lupita was cast for the HIV/AIDS awareness drama Shuga . This was a UNICEF sponsored project in collaboration with MTV AFRICA. She landed the lead actress role playing the character Ayila. The series was aired on all the Local Television Channels in the Kenya and some East African Countries. This is when she got local recognition.
Lupita enrolled for a Masters in Film at the prestigious Yale School of Drama in 2011 and she maintained a leading streak all through the study period.
Her efforts paid off and she was even awarded the Herschel Williams Prize for “acting students with outstanding ability.”
It was after graduating that she got the call for auditions for Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years a slave. She excelled in the auditions and the production began. Lupita then went on to win an Oscar for her role having been nominated among other Hollywood greats.
Lupita has broken the proverbial glass ceiling in many ways. Being the First Kenya to Win an Oscar, she is also the first African to win the Oscar award and was named as the People Magazine most beautiful Person in 2014.
She has not been left behind in Fashion News either. All throughout the awards Seasons from 2013, Lupita has constantly appeared on the Best dressed list had has become a favorite for the World’s leading design houses like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Prada, Gucci and Maison Margiela among others.
She has become a red carpet darling with everyone alwayswaiting with bated breath to see what she will wear. It is because of this that she has gotten to be a brand ambassador for Lancôme Paris: a beauty company. She was also featured in the MiuMiu Campaign ads for their 2014 collection.
She has been working on several films to be released in the coming months. The first is ‘Star Wars: Episode Vii’ that is set to be released on 5th December this year (2015.) The second one is ‘Queen of Katwe,’ a film based on the true story about the rise of a young African chess player which will be released in 2016. Parts of this have been shot close to home in the Neighboring country of Uganda.
The Third movie is Children’s’ book inspired ‘The Jungle Book’ where Lupita will voice the character of Raksha. The film is scheduled to be to be released on 15th April 2016.
And very recently Lupita was named as a Global Ambassador of the Elephant for WildAid.She will be joining a star Studded cast of other WildAid ambassadors which includes British Royalty Prince
William, Veteran Actor Jackie Chan, Virgin Airline’s Sir Richard Branson and retired British footballer David Beckham.
Aside from the Movies and a fashion trends, Lupita’s words have now become quotable quotes.
Some of them include:
“Personally I do not even want to rely on makeup to feel beautiful.”
“Being called Gorgeous is not bad, but I do not want to thrive on People’s Opinions of me.”
“What I have learnt from myself is that I do not have to be anybody else. Myself is good enough.”
Lupita has made it possible for Kenyans young and old And the African Continent at large that it is
possible to live our dreams. All it takes is hard work and faith! And in her own words:
“It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things. When you play it safe, you’re not
expressing the utmost of your human experience.”
“It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things. When you play it safe, you’re not expressing the utmost of your human experience.”