Lupita Nyong'o

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Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita NyongoTIFF2013 (cropped).jpg
Born (1983-03-01) March 1, 1983 (age 31)
Mexico City, Mexico
Residence New York City, New York, U.S.
Citizenship Mexican and Kenyan
Alma mater Hampshire College (BA)
Yale School of Drama (MFA)
Occupation
Years active 2004–present
Parents Peter Anyang' Nyong'o (father)
Dorothy Nyong'o (mother)
Relatives Isis Nyong'o (cousin)
Tavia Nyong'o (cousin)

Lupita Nyong'o (/ˌlˈptə ˈnjɔːŋɔː/; born March 1, 1983) is an Academy Award winning actress, film and music video director of dual Mexican and Kenyan citizenship.[1] 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.[2]

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 as the slave Patsey in the film was widely acclaimed, earning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, among numerous other awards and nominations. In 2014, she was named "The Most Beautiful Woman" by People.[3]

Early life[edit]

Nyong'o was born in Mexico City, Mexico,[4][5][6] to Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a college professor turned politician in Kenya.[7] 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).[8] She is of Luo descent on both sides of her family, and is the second of six children.[9] Nyong'o identifies as Mexican-Kenyan.[10] Her father is a 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,[9][11] and her family had been living in Mexico for three years (returning to Kenya in 1983).

Nyong'o and her family moved back to their native Kenya when she was less than one year old,[8][12] as her father was appointed a professor at the University of Nairobi.[9] She grew up primarily in Kenya, and describes her upbringing as "middle class, suburban".[11] At age sixteen, her parents sent her back to Mexico for seven months to learn Spanish.[8][13] 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.[13]

Education and early work[edit]

Nyong'o (seated, fourth from right) in a photo with her classmates taken at St. Mary's School, Nairobi in 2001.

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.[14] She attended Rusinga International school in Kenya and acted in school plays, with a minor role in Oliver Twist being her first play.[15] 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.[11][14] While a member of the Phoenix Players, Nyong'o also performed in the plays "On The Razzle" and "There Goes The Bride".[16] Nyong'o cites the performances of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple with inspiring her to pursue a professional acting career.[17][18]

Nyong'o later attended St. Mary's School in Nairobi, where she received an IB Diploma in 2001 before attending college in the United States.[19] After graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies,[20] 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.[21] She cites Fiennes as another individual who inspired her to pursue a professional acting career.[11]

She starred in the 2008 short film East River, directed by Marc Grey and shot in Brooklyn.[22] She returned to Kenya in 2008 and starred in the Kenyan television series Shuga, an MTV Base Africa/UNICEF drama about HIV/AIDS prevention.[21] In 2009, she wrote, directed, and produced the documentary In My Genes, about the treatment of Kenya's albino population,[9] which played at several film festivals and won first prize at the 2008 Five College Film Festival.[21] Nyong'o also directed the music video The Little Things You Do by Wahu featuring Bobi Wine,[21] which was nominated for the Best Video Award at the MTV Africa Music Awards 2009.[21]

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.[6] While at Yale, she won the Herschel Williams Prize "awarded to acting students with outstanding ability" during the 2011–12 academic year.[2]

Career[edit]

Acting[edit]

Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender at the 2013 New York Film Festival

Nyong'o landed her breakthrough role[23] 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.[11][14] 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.[24] 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".[25][26] Nyong'o was nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and two Screen Actors Guild Awards including Best Supporting Actress, which she won.[27] 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 Kenyan actress to win an Oscar, and the first Mexican citizen to win the award.[28][29] She also became the fifteenth actress to win an Oscar for a debut performance in a feature film.[30]

She played a brief role portraying a reserve flight attendant alongside Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in the action thriller Non-Stop (2014).[9]

As of June 2014, Nyong'o is attached to star in Star Wars Episode VII (2015).[31] She will also produce and star in a film adaptation of the novel Americanah.[32]

Promotional work[edit]

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[33] and the UK magazine Dazed & Confused.[34] Nyong'o is on the July cover of Vogue, making her the second African woman[35] and ninth black woman[36] to cover the magazine. Nyong'o is on the cover of July's issue of ELLE (France). She has also been a regular on Harper's Bazaar's Derek Blasberg's best dressed listing since the autumn of 2013.[14]

In April 2014, Nyong'o was announced the new face of Lancôme.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Nyong'o resides in Brooklyn.[38] She is fluent in her native Luo, English, Swahili and Spanish.[13] 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.

"I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me."

—Lupita Nyong'o quoting a letter written to her by an unidentified little girl from Africa[39]

She said her views about herself changed when she saw South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek become successful.[40]

In 2013, her father was elected to represent Kisumu County in the Kenyan Senate.[8] Nyong'o's mother is currently the managing director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and her own communications company.[14][16] Other family members include: Tavia Nyong'o, a scholar and professor at New York University; Dr. Omondi Nyong'o, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Palo Alto, CA; Kwame Nyong'o, one of Kenya's leading animators and leading technology expert; Isis Nyong'o, a media and technology leader who was named one of Africa's most powerful young women by Forbes magazine.[41][42] Her uncle, Aggrey Nyong'o, a prominent Kenyan physician, was killed in a road accident in 2002.[43]

In pop culture[edit]

Nyong'o was mentioned in Christian rapper Lecrae's song "Nuthin'" from his 2014 album Anomaly.

Filmography[edit]

As actress[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 East River F Short film
2009 Shuga Ayira Miniseries
2013 12 Years a Slave Patsey
2014 Non-Stop Gwen Lloyd
2015 Star Wars Episode VII Filming

As crew member[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2005 The Constant Gardener Production assistant
2006 The Namesake Production assistant
2007 Where God Left His Shoes Production assistant
2009 In My Genes Director, writer, producer and editor Documentary film
2009 The Little Things You Do Director Music video

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2013 AACTA International Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role 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
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 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
Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Actress in a Supporting Role Won
Most Promising Actress Nominated
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
Best Ensemble Nominated
Dorian Awards Film Performance of the Year - Actress Nominated
Empire Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
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
Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor 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
IGN Awards Best Movie Actress Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
International Cinephile Society Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
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
Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Best Performance by an Ensemble Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Won
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Best Actress in a Supporting Role Won
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
MTV Africa Music Awards[44] Personality of the Year Herself Won
BET Awards[45] Best Actress Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ Terra: "Actriz de '12 Years a Slave' presume orgullo mexicano". September 8, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "School of Drama 2012–2013". Yale University. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Lupita Nyong'o Is PEOPLE's Most Beautiful". People. April 23, 2014. Archived from the original on August 15, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ "12 Things to Know About '12 Years a Slave' Breakout Lupita Nyong'o". Yahoo Movies. November 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson". Season 10. Episode 1822. November 12, 2013. CBS.
  6. ^ a b Bamigboye, Baz. "Fiennes start to a career: Lupita Nyong'o is female star of hottest movie of the year". Daily Mail/Mail Online. Archived from the original on November 17, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Walubengo, Laura (November 4, 2013). "Interview: A moment with Dorothy Nyong'o". DStv. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
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  10. ^ Aritr John (March 3, 2014). "The Wire: "Lupita Nyong'o Ended Kenya and Mexico's Mini-Feud Over Her Nationality". The Wire. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. 
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  20. ^ "About the Director". In My Genes. Archived from the original on September 26, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
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  25. ^ Freer, Ian. "12 Years a Slave". Empire. Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  26. ^ Travers, Peter (October 17, 2013). "12 Years a Slave". Rolling Stones. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
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  28. ^ Cieply, Michael; Barnesmarch, Brooks (March 2, 2014). "‘12 Years a Slave’ Claims Best Picture Oscar". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. 
  29. ^ "‘Pride of Africa: Kenya celebrates Nyong’o’s Oscar". Boston Herald. March 3, 2014. Archived from the original on March 9, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
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  31. ^ Anthony Breznican (June 2, 2014). "'Star Wars: Episode VII' casts Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  32. ^ McNary, Dave. "Lupita Nyong'o Starring in, Producing Romance Story "Americanah"". Variety. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  33. ^ Jamie Feldman (February 10, 2014). "Lupita Nyong'o Covers New York Magazine's Spring Fashion Issue, Looks Stunning As Usual". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  34. ^ Julee Wilson (January 14, 2014). "Lupita Nyong'o Covers Dazed & Confused, Proving Yet Again She Is Fashion's New 'It' Girl (PHOTOS)". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on January 17, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Lupita Nyong'o Makes Her US Vogue Debut & It's Seriously Beautiful". 
  36. ^ Marshall, Lee (June 20, 2014). "Lupita Nyong’o is Vogue’s newest cover girl". Archived from the original on June 21, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  37. ^ Donna Freydkin (April 4, 2014). "Lupita Nyong'o is new face of Lancôme". USA Today. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
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  39. ^ "Lupita Nyong'o Delivers Moving 'Black Women in Hollywood' Acceptance Speech". Essence.com. February 27, 2014. Archived from the original on March 2, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2014. 
  40. ^ Rothman, Lily (February 28, 2014). "Oscar Nominee Lupita Nyong'o: Essence Speech on "Beauty of Black " |". TIME. Archived from the original on March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  41. ^ Millicent Lagat. "African Women Who Inspire: Isis Nyong’o". AkiliDada. Archived from the original on September 26, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  42. ^ Nseheis, Mfonobong (June 12, 2012). "Africa's Most Successful Women: Isis Nyong'o". Forbes.com. Archived from the original on January 24, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
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