Lupita Nyong’o: Honoring Her Family’s Legacy Of Resilience

Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o/Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Disney

Though the Oscars 2017 succeeded in their efforts to bypass claims of racism, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o revealed ahead of the festivities that there’s still a substantial amount of work to be done. While discussing her film, Queen of Katwe (which despite a decent reception in theaters was snubbed is this year’s nominations), she stressed the importance of prioritizing the “momentum more than the moment.”

“It is about the perspective of the people telling the stories, and who gets the right to express that perspective—not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera and with the decision-makers,” Nyong’o told The Daily Beast. “The more we’re conscious of the importance of respecting and representing the world we live in, the more we gain momentum in inclusion,” she continued.

Of course, born in Mexico City, Nyong’o, who grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, knows far too well, the importance of “representing the world we live in;” a dream that may never have become a reality without the support of her beloved parents.

“My parents, I have a lot to thank them for, and I think this movie is one way to show my absolute gratitude for the way they raised me,” she said of her middle class upbringing. “They were keen to learn who their children were, and to try to facilitate our natural interests. They were thoroughly supportive and would educate themselves on what was going on in our community that I could get involved in, and really made it possible for me to be an actor.”

Nyong’o recalled how her mother would drive her to rehearsal every day after school and wait hours in the car when she was was cast in a professional theater production at 14.”That’s how dedicated they were to helping us realize our dreams,” she said.

Of course, the road to Tinseltown was not without turmoil. In 2014, Lupita’s father, Peter Anyang Nyong’o, revealed a darker past, riddled with brutality and suffering. An opponent of former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, Peter revealed that he was tortured repeatedly, while the Lupita’s uncle Charles Nyong’o went missing after he was attacked on board a ferry and thrown overboard. His body was never found.

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