Woman Crush Wednesday (WCW): Lupita Nyongo’o

by Duke Magazine

Lupita Amondi Nyongo’o is a Kenyan-Mexican actress and author. She is a movie sensation, and notable of the films she stars in are “Black Panther,” “Queen of Katwe,” among others. 

Born in 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico to Kenyan parents, Nyongo’o grew in Kenya where she had her basic education before going further to the United States to hold a degree in film and theatre studies from Hampshire College. Attributing her inspiration into acting to the performance citing of American actresses Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg in “The Color Purple”, Nyongo’o started her movie career as a member of the production crew. 

Starring in the Kenyan television series “Shuga” which is an MTV Base Africa/ UNICEF drama about HIV/AIDS prevention poised Nyongo’o to the path of stardom in acting. As a master’s degree holder in drama from Yale School of Drama, she imprinted success in her pursuit as she won the Herschel Williams Prize in the 2011–12 academic year for “acting students with outstanding ability”. She had her debut and breathrough role in an epic drama “12 Years a Slave”, in which her performance met with rave reviews and nominations for several awards. The movie actually won Nyongo’o the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This was indeed a cheering recognition for her as she became the sixth black actress to win the award; the first African actress to win the award; the first Kenyan actress to win an Oscar; and the first Mexican to win the award. She was however the 15th actress to win an Oscar for a debut performance in a feature film.

With high sense of enthusiasm, the epitome of black girl magic went on to star in several movies like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Eclipsed”, the movie that won her an Obie Award for Outstanding Performance and a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway Debut Performance with numerous nominations. The stunning role of Nyongo’o in the Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther”, availed her to be the recipient of Saturn Award for Best Actress nomination for the film. 

She is an electrifying narrator and a multi-lingual speaker. Nyongo’o fluently speaks English, Spanish, Swahili, and Luo. The black beauty  has made the cover of Vogue Magazine, the accomplishment that made her to become the second African woman and the ninth Black woman to be featured. She has also gone out to cover pages of more global magazines like Vanity Fair, Elle, and others.

Nyong’o is a 2019 Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree. In 2020, she appeared on Forbes Africa’s “50 Most Powerful Women” list.

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