The 12 Years A Slave star is the toast of Tinseltown. Here's everything you need to know about the newcomer.
Lupita Nyong’o: it’s a name you’ve no doubt seen a lot of recently, and one you definitely need to learn how to pronounce, fast (it’s lew-PEET-tuh en-YON-go, FYI). This Mexico-born, Kenya-raised beauty is currently the subject of every conversation held across computers in offices, and over tables at dinner. Why? Because she’s the 30-year-old actress that has shot out of nowhere to play Patsey in Steve McQueen’s lauded 12 Years A Slave, and is fast becoming Hollywood’s hottest property. Here’s what you need to know about 2014’s indisputable rising star, Lupita Nyong’o.
1. She’s a red carpet maverick
We’re in the throes of awards season, and Lupita’s quickly emerging as the clear winner on the red carpet. Despite being a newbie to the whole game, she’s resolutely not playing it safe – where most A-listers settle for a classic LBD or frothy couture gown in milky hues, Lupita’s all about head-to-toe colour. Take her delicious Ralph Lauren tomato-red gown with superhero cape she wore to the Golden Globes, or the punchy sunshine yellow, navel grazing Victoria Beckham number she wowed in at the InStyle after party. Then there’s her beautiful blue Gucci gown, embellished with delicate blooms, that Lupita wore to collect her SAG award. Few seasoned stars would dream of dressing in primary colours on the red carpet, let alone a first timer.
2. 12 Years A Slave is her first major break
Steve McQueen’s Oscar-nominated film about the real-life story of Soloman Northup, a man kidnapped and forced into slavery, is Lupita Nyong’o’s silver screen debut. And with just one major feature film under her belt, Lupita is already filling her mantelpiece with shiny statuettes. Of the 36 awards ceremonies she’s attended as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress, Lupita has made that walk to the stage 29 times. And it’s not over yet – with the Oscars and Baftas still to come, Lupita’s Brooklyn apartment might prove a tad small for all those trophies.
3. She’s an unashamed fan girl
Given that Lupita’s new to the whole fame thing, it’s understandable that she might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the fact the people that once existed in her TV are suddenly within touching distance. But rather than play it cool, and pretend hanging out with the Hollywood elite in front of the world’s press is as everyday as speaking to your mum on the phone, Lupita’s been treating the awards season as a chance to meet all those celebs she’s admired since she was a teenager. She’s even got a checklist. And she’s documenting the whole thing on her Instagram account.
‘Checklist: meet #LeonardoDiCaprio and tell him how much I have loved his work since I was 14 – CHECK!’, the actress wrote. We love anyone that wanders around a swanky awards ceremony ticking celebrites off a list like they’re playing I Spy in the car. Yes, Lupita.
4. She’s a Miu Miu star
You know you’re being taken seriously in the fashion world when Ms Prada casts you in a campaign. Lupita currently stars alongside Dakota Fanning and the Olsen twins in the Miu Miu SS14 ads. Wearing fuchsia tights with some huge white platforms, this brand was made for Ms Nyong’o.
5. Acting was not her first job
Aged 19, Lupita enrolled on a filmmaking course, thinking that was a more realisitic path into the movie industry than acting. Speaking in an interview recently, Lupita said: ‘I didn’t know any successful actors in Kenya, so I felt like I could get away with going to college to study film more easily than I could with saying, “I want to be an actor.” That’s what I did.’ Luckily, she realised that she couldn’t quell that desire to perform, and so she enrolled at Yale University’s drama school. It was while she was still there, just several weeks before she graduated in 2012, that Lupita landed the role in 12 Years A Slave. Anyone that’s thinking about changing careers to pursue the life they really want should take Lupita’s lead and do it. Do it now.
6. She gives a great soundbite
‘I discovered that joy is not the negation of pain, but rather acknowledging the presence of pain and feeling happiness in spite of it.’ Lupita told Interview magazine. Talk about positive. But then, we wouldn’t expect anything less from the woman that’s just received almost 40 nominations for her first film role.