Lupita Nyong'o – MovieActors.com

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Lupita Nyong'o in 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

Lupita Nyong'o: Best Supporting Actress, 2013: MovieActors.com

lupita-actor 12 Years a Slave (Drama – Rated R)

Lupita Nyong'o won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in 12 Years a Slave.

12 Years a Slave is based on the true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (particularly at the hands of a sadistic slave owner, played by Michael Fassbender), but also unexpected kindnesses, Solomon fights not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his ordeal, Solomon's fateful meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) forever alters his life.

About Lupita Nyong'o (1983 – )

Lupita Amondi Nyong'o was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to Kenyan parents, Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a college professor turned politician. Nyong'o identifies as Kenyan-Mexican. She is of Luo descent on both sides of her family, and is the second of six children. It is a tradition of the Luo people to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents gave her a Spanish name, Lupita (a diminutive of Guadalupe). 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, and her family had been living in Mexico for three years.

Nyong'o and her family moved 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". When she was sixteen, her parents sent her 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. Her family was later forced to leave Kenya because of political unrest. Her uncle, Charles Nyong'o, disappeared after he was thrown off a ferry-boat in 1980.

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 Rusinga International school in Kenya and acted in school plays, with a minor role in Oliver Twist being her first stage appearance. 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 American actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple with inspiring her to pursue a professional acting career.

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. She graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies.

Nyong'o started her career working as part of the production crew for several films, including Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener (2005), Mira Nair's The Namesake (2006) and Salvatore Stabile's Where God Left His Shoes (2007). She cites Ralph Fiennes, the star of The Constant Gardener, as someone who inspired her to pursue a professional acting career.

In 2008, Nyong'o starred in the short film East River directed by Marc Grey and shot in Brooklyn. She returned to Kenya that same year and appeared 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 discriminatory treatment of Kenya's albino population. It 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.

Nyong'o went on enroll herself in a master's degree program 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 won the Herschel Williams Prize for "acting students with outstanding ability" during the 2011–12 academic year.

Immediately after graduating from Yale, Nyong'o landed her breakthrough role when she was cast for Steve McQueen's historical drama 12 Years a Slave (2013). The film, which met with wide critical acclaim, tells the historical account of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free-born African American man of upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Nyong'o played the role of Patsey, a slave who works alongside Northup at a Louisiana 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." 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, a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role 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 do so, the first African actress to win the award, the first Kenyan actress to win an Oscar, and the first Mexican to win the award.

Following a supporting role in the action-thriller Non-Stop (2014), Nyong'o co-starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as force sensitive-space pirate Maz Kanata, a CGI character created with motion capture technology. Nyong'o said that she had wanted to play a role where her appearance was not relevant, in which the acting provided a different challenge than her role as Patsey. Scott Mendelson of Forbes found Nyong'o's role as "the center of the film’s best sequence," and Stephanie Zacharek of Time called her a "delightful minor character".

2015 saw Nyong’o make a return to stage with a starring role as an unnamed girl in the play Eclipsed, written by Danai Gurira. It takes place during the chaos of the Second Liberian Civil War, where the captive wives of a rebel officer band together to form a community, until the precarious balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl (played by Nyong'o). Eclipsed became The Public Theater's fastest-selling new production in recent history. The play premiered on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre the following year. The production became the first play with an all-black and female creative cast and crew to premiere on Broadway. Nyong'o said that she understudied the play at Yale in 2009 and was terrified to play the character on stage. Her performance brought her critical acclaim. The New York Times' critic Charles Isherwood called Nyong'o "one of the most radiant young actors to be seen on Broadway in recent seasons, shines with a compassion that makes us see beyond the suffering to the indomitable humanity of its characters."

Nyong'o co-starred in Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book (2016), a live-action/animated movie, voicing Raksha, a mother wolf who adopts Mowgli (Neel Sethi). Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph wrote in his review that Nyong'o brought a "gentle dignity" to her part. As of May 2016, Nyong'o is set to star in Mira Nair's Queen of Katwe (2016), a biopic based on the true story about the rise of a young Ugandan chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads. Nyong’o plays Phiona’s mother, Harriet Mutesi.

Nyong'o, who resides in Brooklyn, is fluent in Spanish, Luo, English, and Swahili. On February 27, 2014, at the Essence Black Women In Hollywood luncheon in Beverly Hills, she spoke on the beauty of black women and her insecurities as a teenager. She said her views changed when she saw South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek become successful. She mentioned receiving the following letter from a girl she had inspired in turn:

"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

In 2013, her father was elected to represent Kisumu County in the Kenyan Senate. Nyong'o's mother is the managing director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and her own communications company. 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.

In 2014, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recruited Nyong'o in an effort to oppose development, including a new minor league baseball stadium, in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, Virginia. The historic neighborhood, one of Richmond's oldest, was the site of major slave-trading before the American Civil War. On October 19, 2014, Nyong'o sent a letter to Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, which she posted on social media sites, asking him to withdraw support for the development proposal.

In June 2015, Nyong'o returned to her native Kenya and announced that she will advocate globally for elephants with the international conservation organization WildAid, as well as promote women’s issues, acting and the arts in Kenya. WildAid announced Nyong'o as their Global Elephant Ambassador.

Nyong'o is involved in the organization Mother Health International, which is dedicated to providing relief to women and children in Uganda or other impoverished, war-torn regions by creating locally engaged birthing centers. She said she’d never thought much about birthing practices until her sister introduced her to MHI executive director Rachel Zaslow. Nyong'o felt bringing attention to such important but overlooked issues is a mandate for her as an artist. She was honored for her work at 2016 Variety's Power of Women.

In April 2016, Nyong'o launched an anti-poaching “hearts and minds” campaign with her organization Wildaid in advance of Kenya Wildlife Service's history-making ivory burn that occurred April 30. The Kenyan government burned 105 tonnes of Ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn in a demonstration of their zero tolerance approach to poachers and smugglers who were threatening the survival of elephants and rhinoceros in the wild.

Nyong'o was mentioned in Christian rapper Lecrae's song "Nuthin'" from his 2014 album Anomaly and was referenced by Jay Z in his verse from Jay Electronica's song "We Made It". She was also mentioned in the parody song "American Apparel Ad Girls" by the drag queens Willam Belli, Courtney Act and Alaska Thunderfuck. Nyong'o was mentioned in the 2015 African song Nerea by Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol.

On 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. Nyong'o was named "The Most Beautiful Woman" by People and "Woman of the Year" by Glamour and was later announced as the new face of Lancôme.

Nyong'o was on the July 2014 cover of Vogue, making her the second African woman and ninth black woman to cover the magazine. Nyong'o also appeared on the cover of July's issue of Elle (France). She appeared on other covers of magazines such as, March's issue of Lucky Magazine, Harper's Baazar's (United Kingdom) May issue, Spanish Magazine MujerHoy, Paris Match, Elle (Indonesia), and Glamour (South Africa). She appeared on the American October '15 issue of Vogue, making it her second cover in a row.

On October 20 2015, Congressman Charles Rangel and Voza Rivers, the head of the New Heritage Theatre Group, announced the day is officially “Lupita Nyong’o Day” in Harlem, New York. The honor was announced as a surprise during an open discussion between Nyong'o and image activist Michaela Angela Davis at Mist Harlem.

Lupita Nyong'o's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
2008 East River F
2013 12 Years a Slave Patsey
2014 Non-Stop Gwen Lloyd
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Maz Kanata
2016 The Jungle Book Raksha
2016 Queen of Katwe Harriet Mutesi
2017 Star Wars: Episode VIII Maz Kanata

Lupita Nyong'o's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
2009–
2012
Shuga Ayira

Academy Nominations/Awards won by Lupita Nyong'o include...

Year Movie Award
2013 12 Years a Slave Best Supporting Actress

Memorable Quotes by Lupita Nyong'o

[on retaining overnight the elaborate scarring makeup on her back, incurred in the brutal whipping scene with the sadistic plantation owner] “They were haunting. I could only sleep on my belly. I was just so aware of them the whole night. I remember fretting and weeping, and then it occurred to me that my discomfort was temporary, and the woman who I was playing, her discomfort was permanent. It just really centered me, and really quieted my soul for the next day's work.”

“I got teased and taunted about my skin. My one prayer to God 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 the mirror because I wanted to see my face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before.”

[on supermodel Alek Wek] “She was dark as night and was in all the magazines and on runways. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome. I couldn't believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn't help but bloom inside of me.”

“My mother 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 does sustain us... what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”

“I'm Mexican and Kenyan at the same time. I've seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I'm Kenyan and Mexican at the same time. So again, I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by carne asada tacos.”

“Having stamina. I think that's what my three years at Yale rewarded me with, a kind of stamina. And also building a kind of confidence in myself. At Yale they say, 'Hold on tightly. Let go lightly'. That's it. You hold on, and then you just let go with it and trust that when [the director] says 'Cut' and then when he says 'Action' again, it will be there.”

Things You May Not Know About Lupita Nyong'o

When she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in 12 Years a Slave (2013) in 2014, Lupita became the first Kenyan to win an Oscar, the first African actress to win Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the first Mexican-born actress to win an Oscar.

She is one of 13 actresses who won their Best Supporting Actress Oscars in a movie that also won the Best Picture Oscar (she won for 12 Years a Slave). The others are Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind, Teresa Wright for Mrs. Miniver, Celeste Holm for Gentleman's Agreement, Mercedes McCambridge for All the King's Men, Donna Reed for From Here to Eternity, Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront, Rita Moreno for West Side Story, Meryl Streep for Kramer vs. Kramer, Juliette Binoche for The English Patient, Judi Dench for Shakespeare in Love, Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago.

She shared the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's 2016 Hollywood issue with Jane Fonda, Viola Davis, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Rachel Weisz, Charlotte Rampling, Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Helen Mirren, Diane Keaton and Saoirse Ronan.

Her mother, Dorothy, is the managing director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and has her own communications company.

She is the fourth Mexican born actress to be nominated for an Oscar. The others in chronological order are: Katy Jurado for Broken Lance (1954), Salma Hayek for Frida (2002) and Adriana Barraza for Babel (2006).

Her brother, Junior, was her date to the Oscars in 2014.

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Lupita Nyong'o in her Oscar winning performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave (2013)...
top picture with Chiwetel Ejiofor, middle picture with Alfre Woodard...
bottom picture with Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.
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Nyong'o in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)... top picture outfitted
for motion capture... bottom picture transformed into her character, Maz Kanata.
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As flight attendant Gwen Lloyd in Non-Stop (2014).
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In Queen of Katwe (2016)... bottom picture with Madina Nalwanga.
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Posing with her character, mother wolf Raksha, for The Jungle Book (2016).
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Lupita Nyong'o in the role that first brought her to
the public's attention, as Ayira in the MTV series Shuga (2009-2012).