Lupita Nyong’o More Than Slays

Lupita Nyong’o is an Oscar winning actor, model and brown skinned woman of color. This woman is GORGEOUS. For the longest time I had no idea what she was about or what she even sounded like.

I passed by her Vogue magazine cover in a local bookstore and decided to have a read once I saw her excerpt “I want to create opportunities for people of color”. She’s been on several covers but the message right there sparked my interest.

This video was circling on instagram of her reaction to her cover and that legit was the first time I heard her speak.

I have a secret that I can finally share… Guess who came to see me back home in Kenya?!

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Lupitas Family and Life in Kenya

She took Vogue to Kenya and showed her family her home village in Luo. Lupita is the second of six children. Her family is pretty prominent in Kenya for their roots in being political and social activists. Lupita was actually was born in Mexico and that’s where her non-African name comes from. Her mother manages the Africa Cancer Foundation and her father is a senator political activist and former university professor. Like most Africans she has a native name as well Amondi which means ‘born at dawn’.

One of the recurring mentions about her is that she has a walk that people tend to notice and automatically wonder if she is a supermodel because despite her height she walks as if she’s tall.

Lupita also mentions getting inspiration from her mother, Dorothy, who used dream charts and would say ‘What do you want to dream short-term, long-term, mid-term?’. Lupita recollects that her mom. “Really believed in dreaming out loud.”

Her Ability to Connect

One of the things that I really admire about Lupita is her ability to and willingness to understand the partake in different cultures. She adorned her head in an Indonesian headdress called an udeng for this interview. When asked about it she says; “I saw them on the men and thought, That will work so well for me. It’s a little cultural appropriation.” Love it!

She also makes several comparisons between herself and her character in Queen of Katwe and another movie she is working on called Americanah after Chimamanda Ngozi Adiches’ book which I was pleased to learn because I recently just picked up this book to read myself. She didn’t set out for these roles but is honoured to be able to tell all these different African stories.

“Being able to use my platform to expand and diversify the African voice…I feel very passionate about that. It feels intentional, meaningful.”

The Lupita Cut

The article also mentions the Lupita cutting her hair low and a funny story about how her father was the inspiration because he was footing the bill for her weekly hair appointments and one day he just exclaimed that she should just cut it off and when she did he didn’t realize till two weeks later asking where is your hair and her response was simply ‘you said I should cut it’.

That cut became the iconic style for young girls referring to it as the Lupita Cut usually cutting your hair that low is frowned upon a local salon beautician in the village told Vogue but Lupita altered that narrative.

Criticism and Shaming

She also faced criticism. In 2014 a Hollywood Magazine analyzed post-Ocsar Lupita as having a challenging and not so bright future because of her dark skin due to the industry. Tracy Christian a talent agent predicted she had a couple years years saying “Would Beyoncé be who she is if she didn’t look like she does?…Being lighter-skinned, more people can look at her image and see themselves in her. In Lupita’s case I think she has two-and-half, three years. If she can find a franchise, a big crossover film, or if she’s cast by a significant filmmaker, then she’s golden, she’ll have carved out a unique path for herself.”

I have to admire Lupitas choice to take the higher road. She says,

“I have to deafen my ears to that Christian lady,..She is looking at me as part of the cultural tapestry…I am living and breathing. That person is not considering what I had for breakfast, how that is sitting in my stomach, and why I didn’t do well with that audition. I can’t think like that.”



Photo Credit: Photography: Mario Testino

I didn’t expect the interview to go there but it did. Lupita speaks on colorism and mentions how she cannot run away from her complexion or how the society views it. She shared this in a speech at the Essence Award. She can remember being taunted about her skin and how she used to bargain with God for a lighter complexion.

However, Lupitas puts it frankly that the European beauty ideal affects all of us .She came from a place where advertisements geared toward skin lightening showed a woman once not being able to get a job and after using the product being hired. It’s common in Nairobi, and this was in early 2000s.

For her, Alek Wek the South Sudan model paved the way. “Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves. That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing,” Lupita says.

She also partnered with a company, Visran, that produces solar powered backpacks for school children. During the long trek to school the battery is powered and they can hook them to an LED lamp to study at night. She came up with the slogan, The power is in your step. That factory has since produced 500 backpacks, with thousands more in the works, and has moved to Kenya to generate employment and income.


Lupita at Ratta Mixed Secondary school in Kisumu county, giving away Solar backpacks produced by Visram. Photo Credit: Photography: Mario Testino

For a while all I knew about Lupita was that she was that dark skinned beauty that all you can say is YASS and SLAY to.However, I recognize the importance of uplifting and bringing positive influences to the forefront, and not just recognizing a gorgeous face or beautiful outfit.  Really though, an unflattering photo of this woman is just non existent. If I stood next to her does that automatically make me photogenic? lol


Photo Credit: Photography: Mario Testino

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