Women Making History: Lupita Nyong’o Builds A Legacy Of Her Own [VIDEO]

Photo Credit: Jean Baptiste Lacroix 

For the entire month of March, WBLS is highlighting “Women Making History and to finish off the work week, we’re recognizing the beautiful actress Lupita Nyong’o.


As you may know, on March 8th the movie “Us” was released in theaters everywhere, starring our highlight for the week Lupita Nyong’o.  Critics and fans have been obsessing over Nyong’o’s stellar performance as both Adelaide Wilson and Red and vocal transitions.


Lets take a look back at the monumental career Lupita Nyong’o has built and how it all began. 


Lupita Amondi Nyong’o was born on March 1, 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico and moved to Kenya at the age of one. She was named Lupita because “every single Laundromat, grocery store, everything is called Lupita in Mexico.” This stems from the Kenyan tradition to name a baby after what’s is happening at the time of the birth.


Growing up as the daughter of a well-to-do Nairobi politician, Lupita shied away from admitting that acting was her passion. She was raised in Kenya until she was 16 years old when she moved back to Mexico to learn Spanish. Lupita later attended Hampshire College in the United States and earned a bachelor’s degree in film and theater studies.


In 2005 Lupita started her career working on the production crew for several films up until 2008, where she first starred in the short film East River. She would regularly go back to Kenya to appear in the Kenyan television series Shuga, an MTV Base Africa/UNICEF drama about HIV/AIDS prevention. The show was seen by 60{1dfa1e56791e611ba924bda180f579857679f3f460137999817901b64f1d0aea} of Kenyan youths and caused 90{1dfa1e56791e611ba924bda180f579857679f3f460137999817901b64f1d0aea} of those who saw it pledged to change the behaviors that made them more at risk for the disease. In 2009, Lupita wrote, directed, and produced the documentary In My Genes, about the discriminatory treatment of Kenya’s albino population, which won first prize at the 2008 Five College Film Festival. 


Lupita’s encounter with Ralph Fiennes on the set of Constant Gardener was a pivotal moment for her as he asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Nyong’o recalled that point of her life and stated her response was, “So I very shyly said I wanted to be an actor too, and he sighed deeply and said, ‘Lupita, only act if you can’t breathe without it.’” She later enrolled herself in a master’s degree program in acting at the Yale School of Drama, stating “because I thought that when I’m 60 and looking back on my life, if acting hadn’t been a part of it, I would hate myself.”


In 2013, following Lupita’s graduation from Yale, she landed her breakthrough role in the historical drama 12 Years a Slave. Lupita played the character of Patsey, a slave who works at a Louisiana cotton plantation. Her compelling performance in 12 Years a Slave put her on the map and distinguished her from any other actress.

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. Lupita was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, which made her the sixth black actress to win the award, the first African actress to win the award, the first Kenyan actress to win an Oscar, the first Mexican to win the award, and the 15th actress to win an Oscar for a debut performance in a feature film. All in all, Lupita Nyong’o single-handedly made history for two different cultures in one night.


Following 12 Years a Slave, Lupita starred in Non-Stop (2014) as Gwen, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) as Maz Kanata, and the Marvel film Black Panther (2018) as Nakia.


In 2014, Nyong’o was the first black celebrity to become the “Face of Lancôme,” and now represents the French luxury cosmetic brand on a global scale. That same year she also became the face of Miu Miu’s Campaign. Lupita continues to be a positive role model for women and is passionate about embracing your true beauty.


Lupita Nyong’o followed her dreams and has broken down so many barriers throughout her career. With the release of “Us” Lupita is back on the big screen continuing to inspire the world.


You’ve not seen the last of her!