Lupita Nyong’o was a class act in style and grace during her Oscar win and acceptance speech. She won best supporting actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave. She prevailed in a tough category, and this was her big screen debut. Nyong’o graduated from Yale and brings a refreshing passion and sincerity to Hollywood.
The 31-year-old Nigerian actress took time during her acceptance speech to honor Patsey, the character she played and whose real life story she told through her role. She humbly acknowledged that her happiness is due to the extreme pain Patsey lived in the 19th-century drama brought to life by director Steve McQueen.
Nyong’o was genuinely shocked when her name was called, but she recovered while smiling at her brother Peter, who escorted her to the event and held her wrap and purse while they were seated. After embracing Peter, she made her way to the stage to accept her Academy Award. Nyong’o received a rousing round of applause and a standing ovation.
She explained that it was emotionally wrenching playing the part of Patsey, and that it was indeed hard to live that pain on a daily basis. Patsey was physically and sexually abused on a regular basis, despite picking more pounds of cotton than many of the men who served in bondage alongside her.
Newbies to the Hollywood circle are often scrutinized for their fashion style. This is not the case with Nyong’o. She has been lauded for her fashion sense and labeled a front runner. After wondering whether she would attend the Oscars in something daring or play it safe, Oscar fashion critics gave a thumbs up to her baby-blue Prada princess gown. Nyong’o said she chose blue because it reminded her of the blue in her home country.
Flawless skin and a beautiful smile added to Nyong’o’s princess look. Style and grace are the things she brought to the stage to accept her Oscar statuette.
During Essence‘s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, Lupita shared trials she has had in the past about being what she called her “night-shaded skin.” “I felt unbeautiful,” she said. She credits supermodel Alex Wek for changing how she viewed herself. Seeing something other than “pale white skin and blonde hair” as aesthetically appealing, taught the Oscar winner that she could be successful in her endeavors. Her Oscar win shows brown-skinned girls and girls worldwide that they can accomplish their dreams. It validates and encourages millions to disregard stereotypes that tell them that they are not good enough.
Nyong’o hopes that other young girls will “feel the validation” through external beauty, but also work on being beautiful “inside.” She says there is no shade to that beauty. That is the message she hopes the younger generation takes from her success as they watch her in the media.
Nyong’o is consistent with her message of hope and validation. During her Academy Award acceptance speech, she reiterated that the golden statue serves as a reminder to her and every child that “No matter where they are from, that their dreams are valid.” These words give hope and inspiration to anyone daring to dream. Lupita Nyong’o’ is a class act, and she accepted her first Oscar win with style and grace. She is already a role model for millions in the United States, her home country of Kenya and around the world.
Opinion by C. Imani Williams
Sydney Morning Herald