Lupita Nyong’o was a favorite to win “Best Supporting Actress” at the Oscars on Sunday and although she seemed surprised to hear her name called for the award, those who knew her and had seen her work in “12 Years a Slave” were not surprised at all. While Nyong’o’s excitement over the award showed a glimpse of her personality, her speech that followed showed it even more.
Nyong’o was born in Mexico but is of Kenyan descent. While her unique look is what sets her apart from other actresses, she claims that it is also a challenge for her. In her speech, Nyong’o explained how her dark skin and short dark hair made her feel like she didn’t fit in at times, but went on to say that she hopes she can be an inspiration to other dark skinned women who aspire for great things.
In her speech, Nyong’o brought up a letter she received from a young girl that said she had thought about buying skin lightening cream until she became aware of Nyong’o. Nyong’o admitted that at one time she also felt as though her dark skin was an issue and had contemplated lightening it herself. She said that she began to feel more comfortable with her skin color when she saw South Sudanese British model Alek Wek become successful.
“A celebrated model, she was as dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was,” Nyong’o said. “Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact.”
“But around me the preference for light skin prevailed, to the beholders that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be. And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you.”
“And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside, that there is no shade in that beauty.”
Nyong’o’s speech seemed to captivate the audience and although Nyong’o is still new to fame, she will likely experience a rush of popularity, especially among other dark skinned young women. Nyong’o clearly has a very bright future ahead of her and is a great role model for other young women.
Image via YouTube