Lupita Nyong’o | Rising Star & Captivating Presence


Lupita at a Dinner hosted by Vogue’s Sally Singer for fashion label Sacai, 23rd Oct 2013. Photo: Pablo Frisk

What a pleasure it was to spend time with someone so talented and charismatic. In April 2013, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o was my very first ‘Profile of The Week’ feature where I noted her early accomplishments including  In My Genes, a documentary that detailed the plight of people living with Albinism in Kenya, her stage work while she studied at the Yale School of Drama and her leading role in the MTV award-winning drama series Shuga.

Since then, she has gone on to garner considerable fame and acclaim for her searing role as Patsey in the historical drama film 12 Years A Slave directed by British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. The story is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a Black man and talented musician who was born free in New York state, kidnapped in Washington D.C., then sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years. The screenplay was adapted by John Ridley. The film has been awarded 370 nominations and won 183 awards thus far. Lupita has been nominated for 37 awards and has won 28. To find out more about her award wins and the upcoming major events during this awards season, go here.


Director Steve McQueen with actors Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the BFI Film Festival premiere in London.

I felt very honoured to receive an invitation to attend the London premiere and gala reception (sponsored by Accenture) of 12 Years A Slave in London during the BFI London Film Festival. View photographs (courtesy of my friend and plus one for the night, Janet of Cool On Demand & Fashion Democracy) from the premiere in the slide-show below.

The film rendered me speechless then, and again, when I watched it for a second time at The Watershed which was followed up by an informative Q&A session led by Dr. Edson Burton. So much so, that I have been unable to compose a response to it that captures my thoughts to a satisfactory degree. Hence, my delay in writing again about Nyong’o or the film. As a testament to how great her performance was, she has also been nominated for the most prestigious award of all, Best Actress In A Supporting Role from The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (Oscars). Watch the full announcement of the nominations here:

Lupita has since been chosen for the 20th Hollywood issue cover of Vanity Fair along with a slew of distinguished actors (photographed by Annie Leibovitz), and hosted on the Hollywood Reporter’s Actresses Roundtable along with esteemed actresses Oprah Winfrey (The Butler), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Amy Adams (American Hustle).

Read more about Lupita’s rise to fame as a fashion icon below and watch the full Hollywood Reporter interview here:

Nyong’o has also appeared on various American talk shows including The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,The Queen Latifah Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. View several of the interviews below.


Her next film project is the action film Non-Stop starring prolific and accomplished actors Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. In the film, Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is a burned-out veteran of the Air Marshals service. He views the assignment not as a life-saving duty, but as a desk job in the sky. However, this flight will be no routine trip. Shortly into the transatlantic journey from New York to London, he receives a series of mysterious text messages ordering him to have the government transfer $150 million into a secret account, or a passenger will die every 20 minutes. Nyong’o plays the part of Gwen an air hostess on the flight. View the trailer below:

Fashion Icon

Along with garnering acclaim for her acting skills, she has been celebrated multiple times for her fashion sense and elegance. Additionally, she has been selected to grace various magazine covers (details below). Miuccia Prada turned to four of Hollywood’s top emerging stars for the Miu Miu Spring / Summer 2014 Campaign and Lupita was one of them. In the latest Miu Miu video shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, we dive into a techno interpretation of the SS14 collection with liquid slide projections created by overlaying the footage with patterns of Miu Miu prints.

Video directed by Inez & Vinoodh
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Elizabeth Olsen, Elle Fanning and Bella Heathcote.
Music by Porter Robinson
As well as being the face of Miu Miu’s SS14 campaign, Nyong’o fronts the “Girls Rule the World” Dazed & Confused magazine issue in a shoot by Sharif Hamza and styled by Robbie Spencer. She discusses  the making of Steve McQueen’s uncompromising film and how she aims to shatter stereotypes of women in Hollywood.

DuJour magazine was Lupita’s first US magazine cover and they held a pre- Golden Globes party at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles, in her honour to celebrate her appearance in the magazine’s ‘Great Performances’ issue. It is an upscale magazine that centers on leisure, celebrities and taste-makers. Dujour presents insider access to global and local fashion, and culture. Director Steve McQueen said this about Lupita,

It was like searching for Scarlett O’Hara to find Patsey…We saw over 1,000 girls, and Lupita came in at the last hour. We met in New Orleans, and she was just astonishing. I had to cast her in this movie. It was almost as if she came off the page of the book.

Read the complete article, “Lupita Nyong’o: A Defining Moment” at Dujour’s website here, and view the photographs from her party here.

Nyong’o also appears in Vogue Italia‘s February 2014 issue in a striking set of photographs produced by Tom Munro. Her range of expressions and charisma hark back to Grace Jones‘ distinct and unique presence.

Follow Lupita Nyong’o at her official Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

2 thoughts on “Lupita Nyong’o | Rising Star & Captivating Presence

  1. Pingback: Lupita Nyong’o | Awards Season Guide | Ciné Kenya

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