Lupita Nyong’o: “I Finally Believed”


Her pictures are everywhere and her name is on everyone’s lips. Kenyan-Mexican Lupita Nyong’o was the star of the award season and subsequently won her very own Academy Award for best supporting actress. She’s now in the megahit movie Black Panther and is racking up movie roles left and right now. She also landed a contract with Lancome Paris and has been named People Magazine’s Most Beautiful, but Lupita “never dreamed” she would be touted as “Most Beautiful” for all the world to see.

“It was exciting and just a major, major compliment,” the 33-year-old says of gracing the cover back in 2014. And especially, “I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen.”

(Photo credit: Tumblr)

Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, Nyong’o first equated beauty with what she saw on television: “Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair,” she says. “Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.” Her mother, Dorothy, who is the managing director and head of PR for the Africa Cancer Foundation, “always said I was beautiful,” Nyong’o adds. “And I finally believed her at some point.”

As a teen, Nyong’o dyed her hair every color – except blonde – and even went as far as shaving her head bald. “It was very strange and very cold!” she says, laughing. “It was scary but I like to dare myself.”

“I remember a time when I too felt ‘unbeautiful,'” confessed Nyong’o. “I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see…