Nyong'o at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
|Born||Lupita Amondi Nyong'o
March 1, 1983
|Residence||New York City|
|Alma mater||Hampshire College (BA)
Yale School of Drama (MFA)
|Occupation||Actress, film director, music video director|
|Parents||Peter Anyang' Nyong'o (father)|
|Relatives||Isis Nyong'o (cousin)
Tavia Nyong'o (cousin)
Lupita Amondi Nyong'o (/ /; born March 1, 1983) is a Kenyan-Mexican actress, film and music video director. After graduating from Hampshire College with a bachelor's degree in film and theatre studies, Nyong'o worked as a production assistant on several Hollywood films. In 2008 she made her acting debut with the short film East River and subsequently starred in the Kenyan television series Shuga (2009). Also in 2009, she wrote, produced and directed the documentary film In My Genes.
Nyong'o later completed a master's degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama, followed by her first feature film role in Steve McQueen's historical drama 12 Years a Slave (2013). Her role in the film was widely acclaimed, earning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, among numerous other awards and nominations.
Nyong'o was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a college professor turned politician in Kenya. It is a Luo tradition to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents gave her a Spanish name, Lupita (a diminutive of Guadalupe). She is of Luo descent on both sides of her family, and is the second of six children. Nyong'o identifies as Mexican-Kenyan. Her father was the former Minister for Medical Services in the Kenyan government. At the time of her birth, he was a visiting lecturer in political science at El Colegio de México in Mexico City, and her family had been living in Mexico for three years.
Nyong'o briefly moved to New York with her parents, and then back to their native Kenya, when she was less than one year old, as her father was appointed a professor at the University of Nairobi. She grew up primarily in Kenya, and describes her upbringing as "middle class, suburban". At age sixteen, her parents sent her back to Mexico for seven months to learn Spanish. During those seven months, Nyong'o lived in Taxco, Guerrero, and took classes at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México's Learning Center for Foreigners.
Education and early work
Nyong'o grew up in an artistic family, where family get-togethers often included performances by the children in the family and trips to see plays. She attended an all-girls school in Kenya and acted in school plays, with a minor role in Oliver Twist being her first play. At age 14, Nyong'o made her professional acting debut as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in a production by the Nairobi-based repertory company Phoenix Players. While a member of the Phoenix Players, Nyong'o also performed in the plays "On The Razzle" and "There Goes The Bride". Nyong'o cites the performances of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple with inspiring her to pursue a professional acting career.
Nyong'o attended college in the United States. After graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies, she worked as part of the production crew for many films, including Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener, with Ralph Fiennes, Mira Nair's The Namesake and Salvatore Stabile's Where God Left His Shoes. She cites Fiennes as another individual who inspired her to pursue a professional acting career.
She starred in the 2008 short film East River, directed by Marc Grey and shot in Brooklyn. She returned to Kenya in 2008 and starred in the Kenyan television series Shuga, an MTV Base Africa/UNICEF drama about HIV/AIDS prevention. In 2009, she wrote, directed, and produced the documentary In My Genes, about the treatment of Kenya's albino population, which played at several film festivals and won first prize at the 2008 Five College Film Festival. Nyong'o also directed the music video The Little Things You Do by Wahu featuring Bobi Wine, which was nominated for the Best Video Award at the MTV Africa Music Awards 2009.
She subsequently enrolled for a master's degree in acting at the Yale School of Drama. At Yale she appeared in many stage productions, including Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, and William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter's Tale. While at Yale, she was the recipient of the Herschel Williams Prize "awarded to acting students with outstanding ability" during the 2011–12 academic year.
Nyong'o landed her breakthrough role when she was cast for Steve McQueen's historical drama 12 Years a Slave (2013) immediately before graduating from Yale with an MFA in 2012. The film, which met with wide critical acclaim, tells the real-life story of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwitel Ejiofor), a free born African American man who is sold into slavery in 1841. Nyong'o played the role of Patsey, a slave who works alongside Northup at a cotton plantation; her performance met with rave reviews. Ian Freer of Empire wrote that she "gives one of the most committed big-screen debuts imaginable" and critic Peter Travers added that she "is a spectacular young actress who imbues Patsey with grit and radiant grace". Nyong'o was nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and two Screen Actors Guild Awards including Best Supporting Actress, which she won. She was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the sixth black actress to win the award, the first African actress to win the award, the first Mexican actress to win the award, and the first Kenyan to win an Oscar. She also became the fifteenth actress to win an Oscar for their debut performance in a feature film.
In 2014, she was chosen as one of the faces for Miu Miu's spring campaign, with Elizabeth Olsen, Elle Fanning and Bella Heathcote. She has also appeared on the covers of several magazines, including New York's spring fashion issue and the UK magazine Dazed & Confused. She has also been a regular on Harper's Bazaar's Derek Blasberg's best dressed listing since the autumn of 2013. Also in 2014 she played a brief role portraying a reserve flight attendant alongside Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in the action thriller Non-Stop.
Nyong'o currently resides in Brooklyn. She is fluent in her native Luo, English, Swahili and Spanish. On February 27, 2014, at the Essence Black Women In Hollywood luncheon in Beverly Hills, she gave a speech on the beauty of black women and talked about the insecurities she had about herself as a teenager. She said her views about herself changed when she saw South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek become successful.
In 2013, her father was elected to represent Kisumu County in the Kenyan Senate. Nyong'o's mother is currently the managing director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and her own communications company. Other family members include Tavia Nyong'o who is a scholar and professor at New York University, Dr. Omondi Nyong'o who is a pediatric ophthalmologist in Palo Alto, CA, Kwame Nyong'o who is one of Kenya's leading animators and leading technology expert Isis Nyong'o, who was named one of Africa's most powerful women by Forbes magazine. Her uncle, Aggrey Nyong'o, a prominent Kenyan physician, was killed in a road accident in 2002.
As an actress
|2008||East River||F||Short film|
|2013||12 Years a Slave||Patsey|
As a crew member
|2005||The Constant Gardener||Production assistant|
|2006||The Namesake||Production assistant|
|2007||Where God Left His Shoes||Production assistant|
|2009||In My Genes||Writer, producer and director||Documentary film|
|2009||The Little Things You Do||Director||Music video|
Awards and nominations
|2013||AACTA Awards||Best Supporting Actress - International||12 Years a Slave||Nominated|
|African-American Film Critics Association||Best Breakout Performance||Won|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Ensemble Cast||Nominated|
|Austin Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||BAFTA Rising Star Award||Nominated|
|Boston Online Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Acting Ensemble||Nominated|
|Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Denver Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Detroit Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Detroit Film Critics Society||Best Ensemble||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Female Newcomer||Nominated|
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Georgia Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Georgia Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Hamptons International Film Festival||Breakthrough Performer||Won|
|Hollywood Film Festival||New Hollywood Award||Won|
|Houston Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Indiana Film Journalists Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|International Cinephile Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|International Cinephile Society||Best Ensemble||Nominated|
|Iowa Film Critics||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Kansas City Film Critics Circle||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Las Vegas Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance||Nominated|
|National Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Nevada Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|New York Film Critics Circle||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|North Texas Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Oklahoma Film Critics Circle||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Acting Ensemble||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Performance by an Ensemble||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Southeastern Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||Nominated|
|St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|Toronto Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Utah Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Washington DC Area Film Critics Association||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
|2014||Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
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