With a grace + onscreen gravitas almost unheard of in a first major role, Lupita Nyong'o won an Oscar for her work in 12 Years a Slave. Growing up in Kenya with limited access to film + tv, it took Lupita a long time to discover her calling as an actor. But, it didn't take her long to become one of Hollywood's most sought-after leading ladies once she did.
As People Magazine's "Most Beautiful Woman" + the new face of Lancôme, Lupita is redefining outdated ideals of beauty. And, helping countless girls + women feel beautiful in their skin along the way. As she puts it, true beauty is "compassion for yourself and for those around you."
stellar acting abilities | won an academy award in her first major role
2009 | wrote + directed In My Genes, a Kenyan documentary about Kenya's albino population
2013 | won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in the film 12 Years a Slave
2014 | named "The Most Beautiful Woman" by People Magazine
from | to
a middle class Kenyan upbringing | Academy Award-winning actress
March 1, 1983
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico + Kenya
~ foundation director + communications professional~
Peter Anyang' Nyong'o
~university professor and politician ~
grew up in | lives in
Nairobi, Kenya | New York City
~ Amherst, Massachusettes | BA | 2008 ~
Yale School of Drama
~ New Haven, Connecticut | MA | 2012 ~
Luo, English, Swahili, Spanish
drama + acting
advocate for | influenced by | worked alongside
racial equality | Oprah Winfrey + Ralph Fiennes | Chiwetel Ejiofor + Liam Neeson
Erik Madigan Heck | New York Magazinecollapse bio bits
"Joy is not the negation of pain, but rather acknowledging the presence of pain and feeling happiness in spite of it."Interview Magazine | july 2013
"Always I want to have integrity and not compromise that."Lupita Nyong'o: A Defining Moment | december 2013
"[Y]ou go to acting school thinking you’re going to learn how to be other people, but really it taught me how to be myself."Lupita Nyong'o On the Fear That Guided Her 12 Years A Slave Performance | january 2014
"It’s not about getting it right, it’s about getting it true."Lupita Nyong'o On the Fear That Guided Her 12 Years A Slave Performance | january 2014
"You fail, and then what? Life goes on. It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things."backstage magazine | february 2014
"What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul."ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood acceptance speech | february 2014
"It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s."Best Supporting Actress | march 2014
"Dreaming...is a glimpse of the thing you want to do that would make you feel most alive. A dream is a portal to your purpose."The Personal Investment in a Dream | december 2014
"Once [a dream] is uttered and you have taken ownership of it, the destination is taken care of and the journey can begin."The Personal Investment in a Dream | december 2014
"When I watched The Color Purple and saw Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah in it, a seed was planted in my heart to be an actor, but I dared not water it in public."The Personal Investment in a Dream | december 2014
12 Years a Slave cast at a Q+A panel
Lupita + her co-star, Michael Fassbender at a Q+A panel at the New York Film Festival in October 2013. Lupita's stunning performance as slave Patsey catapulted her to international fame ~ and her success is inspiring millions.
aphrodite-in-nyc | CC BY 2.0
Lupita at the 2014 Academy Awards
At the 86th annual Academy Awards, Lupita won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave ~ the story of free-born Solomon Northup who was captured and sold into slavery, where he works alongside Patsey on a Louisiana cotton plantation. Lupita is lauded for the gravitas and empathy she brings to the character, going beyond using the role to make a statement + instead choosing to inhabit her daily struggle to survive ~ and in this lies her true power.
Disney | ABC Television Group | CC BY-ND 2.0
People Magazine - Lupita Nyong'o
Watch People Magazine's photoshoot + interview starring Lupita, as she explains what beauty means to her + how she finally saw herself as beautiful. No longer does "light skin and flowing, straight hair" form the exclusive formula for female beauty. Lupita is happy to say that she finally sees the beauty in herself, and hopes she can give girls around the world the same awareness of their beauty ~ a much-needed change of standards.
People Magazine | CC BY 3.0
Not only did Lupita win an Academy Award, but she's also won 20+ plus other awards for her role in 12 Years a Slave.
Carbon-Fibre Media | CC BY-SA 2.0