Lupita Nyong’o – acclaimed actress and Hollywood’s newest ‘it girl’ – has quickly become one of the most sensational women in entertainment. Ever since her raw, inspired performance in Twelve Years a Slave, and the subsequent appearances at award shows thereafter, Nyong’o has been pegged as “one to watch” for both her bona fide acting chops and her personal style. With the Academy Awards fast approaching, the budding actress has been receiving more attention than ever, as industry insiders whisper about her chances at taking home an Oscar, as well as what we can expect from her on the red carpet.
Despite all of the media buzz, Nyong’o has remained ever gracious and humble, and has even taken the opportunity to address issues such as body image and beauty standards in her acceptance speeches. Essence recently published her acceptance speech for the “Best Breakthrough Performance” award that she was honored with at the annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. In it she discusses her own struggles with self-acceptance, and the complexities within taking ownership of one’s body, features, and complexion. Nyong’o says,
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. 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.
She explains that as a teenager, her self-hate only worsened, and that it has taken finding role models like Alek Wek to make her value her own skin. She addresses Black beauty and what it means to have dark skin in entertainment and fashion. Because Nyong’o went for so long without identifying with anyone she saw in media, she suffered from low self-esteem, which seems almost hard to believe, considering that today she is regarded as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood.
What the actress most conveyed is the critical need for more diversity in entertainment, in accordance with a reform in beauty standards. Women deserve to have access to role models of all races, shapes, gender presentations, ages, and sizes, otherwise we risk alienating those who don’t see themselves represented in mainstream media.
I’m so excited to see more from the talented Lupita Nyong’o, and to see what she’ll be wearing to Sunday night’s Academy Awards.