Lupita Nyong’o: ‘I do feel not a responsibility but an impetus to speak’


Lupita Nyong’o covers the new issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. It’s a beautiful cover, right? She’s so flawless. It’s like she’s being lit from within. This Bazaar feature is called “The New Face of Beauty”. You can read Bazaar UK’s excerpts here and here are some highlights:

The buzz around her: “You know, I thought it would come to an end after the Oscars. I thought the Oscars would come and go and then all of a sudden everything would be back to normal and I’d be back in my apartment.’

The Oscar season: “You know what kept me sane? Not knowing. Having never really experienced that before… because this was new territory I had no normal. I had no sense of what was normal in that world. It was all new. I don’t think [I would attend that many events again]. Not to that extent.”

What kept her sane: “Emma Thompson, Emma Thompson, Emma Thompson, Emma Thompson. It was such a relief… witnessing her going through that whole thing with an ease and a playfulness and just abandon. That is like the person I want to be. I want to be that comfortable even in this very alien environment that you get put in.”

Her emotional awards speeches: “I wish that I took it more lightly sometimes because it costs a lot. Which is why I can’t do those speeches every weekend, because it costs a lot to share from such a deep place, if you will. But I don’t know how to speak from any other place. Kenyans are very ceremonial. There is a formality that comes with gatherings and comes from our colonial conditioning… Oratory is something that’s really important to Kenyans, the way one speaks to the masses, it’s an art almost.”

The responsibility she feels: “I don’t feel like the responsibility I feel comes from any place other than my gut. I feel a responsibility to speak about certain things because I wish someone had spoken about them for me. I know I’m in a unique position where lots of people all over the world are seeing me and connecting with me, and perhaps because of my demographic and how limited representation is for my demographic, I do feel not a responsibility but an impetus to speak. It’s an impetus… It’s 2015, man. We could all use some diversity. It can get tedious to have to explain that I speak English because Kenyans speak English.”

[From Bazaar UK & E! News]

I love her but I wish she had more to discuss than winning the Oscar last year. But Lupita is thriving, thank God. It would have been awful for all of us if her career just withered after her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years a Slave. Lupita has spent the past year quietly working and building up a portfolio of projects. She filmed a part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She’s doing voice work for one of the adaptations of The Jungle Book. And just a few days ago, she arrived in Uganda to begin filming Queen of Katwe. Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of chess wunderkind Phionah Mutesi, who trained to become an international chess champion. Lupita will play the girl’s mother and David Oyelowo plays the chess coach.

A few days ago, Lupita was the guest of honor at a fundraiser for the Maisha gardens in Buziga – you can see some photos from the event here. Apparently, Lupita was a huge hit and everyone wanted to talk to her. I think Ugandans are very proud that Lupita has come to their country to film a movie.

Here’s an exclusive first look at my @bazaaruk @LancomeUK @Lancomeofficial cover!

A photo posted by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on

Cover courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK, Instagram.

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34 Responses to “Lupita Nyong’o: ‘I do feel not a responsibility but an impetus to speak’”

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  1. Allie says:

    The cover kind of looks like a painting. I don’t really get the hype for her, but she does have great skin. I’m jealous as I have crazy translucent skin that only a redhead can and I want to be able to go to the beach without blending in with the white sand.

    • Kath says:

      And don’t forget the oh-so-attractive blotchiness that comes with us pale, potato-like creatures. Whenever I hear about actresses talk about the cultural conditioning against darker skin I think whaaa? I would KILL to have glowy, warrior-woman skin rather than this patchy mess that burns at the drop of a hat.

      • Allie says:

        Right? Or the fact that I blush at the drop of a hat and it looks like my face is on fire. I constantly have to tell people that I can’t help when I blush, it’s nothing personal. Let me live my life!

      • wolfpup says:

        For about six years, in my early twenties, I had the same blushing problems. It went away when I found more balance in my mind, concerning my identity. Sometimes this problem is due to pressures beyond our personal control.

      • jammypants says:

        yea but you’re white (just stating a fact not trying to start anything). Unless you live in darker skin, how would you really know what it’s like to experience cultural conditioning because of skin color? I know you have your own biological traits you dislike (“potato skin”) but what you brought up has little to do with what she is saying.

      • Anna says:

        If you had to deal with colorism and the racism that comes with having dark skin I don’t think you would be feeling this way. For dark skin men and women it takes overcoming a lot of self-hatred to start accepting your skin colour and being proud of it.

    • V4Real says:

      With photoshop and a good make-up artist your skin can look just as good. I have seen pap pics of Lupita and her skin isn’t that flawless.

      Good that she has been working instead of running around with Leto. Maybe we will get a chance to see her true talents. I love JLaw but in my opinion neither her or Lupita’s performance was Oscar worthy.

      • FLORC says:

        I agree with the worthy roles. Good actors, but there’s bias an politics at play there.

        And Lupita’s skin looks heavily lightened. Yes photoshop to smooth it, but her tone is washed out here. Wasn’t that a huge platform for her? To be proud of your skin and view it as an asset rather than a curse?

      • ann says:

        Absolutely. Photoshop is always remembered right away on Kardashians or another actress that people aren’t absolutely insane about. I really don’t understand why the big deal is about her

    • LizLemonGotMarried says:

      Tell me. I am so pale they don’t make foundation in my shade! Lancôme and Merle Norman both used to and stopped carrying it because it was such a low seller! White skin, black hair might have been a good concept in “Snow White” but IRL, it’s a PITA. I wear self-tanner year round, because let’s be honest…chubby legs need some color. My husband can spend one day in the sun while wearing sunscreen and have a gorgeous tan. I hoped and prayed our son would get his skin-instead, he came out as a porcelain skinned red-head. I’m religious about his sunscreen but he already has a few freckles across his nose from sun exposure (he’s 4).

      • Kath says:

        I live in the skin cancer capital of the world (which is what happens when you ship a bunch of Anglo-Celtic people with no melanin to a hot country) and yet NO ONE will wear a hat, even when it’s 40-plus degrees Celsius outside.

        Because it’s uncool. And they all want to be brown.

        And then you have black people being discriminated against because they ARE brown. The world is insane!

      • Joy says:

        Pale ginger here, can consign all of this!!!

      • Kath says:

        Oh, and don’t forget that weird pink rash/bumps that can appear on the backs of your arms. Another oh-so-desirable trait that is particularly common among pale people with Celtic ancestry. (Apparently… I looked it up once).

      • maeliz says:

        I’ve been using Cover Girl classic ivory, and it’s a bit darker than my skin. I have dark blond hair and my skinny body burns fast. I had skin cancer at 34, but always wore and still wear sunscreen. I never layed in the sun, but things happen.

        Right@Kath, don’t black people already have the color others want? They’re pretty lucky to not have to lay out or use fake stuff for the look

      • Franca says:

        I’m also very pale with dark hair, but as much of a PITA it is, I like it. My problem is that i have reddish cheeks so I look like I’m constantly blushing. Also, whenever I try to wear red lipstic it just make my face look ever more red.

    • Allie says:

      @jammypants I didn’t say I knew what she experienced. Or did I say I was relating anything to what she said in the article. I said I was jealous of her skin color because I don’t like mine. Not sure why I can’t bring that up or why you have a problem with that?

    • Anne tommy says:

      I get the hype. And she looks so fab and feminine with so little hair.

  2. BendyWindy says:

    Most of the time that magazines feature dark skinned subjects they really botch the lighting. They did a lovely job here. She’s lovely and intelligent, which is a winning combination.

  3. Nk868 says:

    Jungle book? This is the first I’m hearing of this adaptation! It was one of my favorite Disney movies as a child, and now LUPITA involved? Yesssssss

    • Lilacflowers says:

      There are two adaptations happening. Lupita is in the Disney one, doing voice work, with Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. There’s another version to be directed by Andy Serkis with Cate Blanchette, Christian Bale, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

  4. Green Is Good says:

    Autocorrect vomits crazy whenever I type Lupita Nyong’o:). Anyway, I love that she threw love at Emma Thompson.

  5. jen2 says:

    She has been quite busy, but most of what she has done involves a lot of special effects work (Star Wars, Jungle Book), so they have not been released yet. She is working on something with David Oyelowo as well. So, she is doing film work, just slowly. That way she is not over saturated. She is stunning. Not much else to say.

  6. cynthia says:

    I really liked what she had to say about representation and the impetus to speak. I’m also very excited about the Queen of Katwe project: Mira Nair is one of my favourite directors so the combo Mira+Lupita+David Oyelowo makes me giddy with excitement.

    • lucy2 says:

      I’ve only seen one of Mira’s films, but I’m happy to see another female director working. I’m excited about that project as well, it was mentioned a while ago and I did a little reading about the woman it’s based on – what an amazing story. I’m looking forward to the film.

  7. Angela says:

    She’s making Americanah with David Oyelowo too! Terrific book and I’m looking so forward to the movie.

    • cynthia says:

      Americanah has become one of my favourite books! I can’t wait to see how they adapted it for the film!

  8. Suzy from Ontario says:

    She is so beautiful and radiant! I love her comments about Emma!

    • lucy2 says:

      I always think “radiant” when I see her. I think it’s part how beautiful she is, but also how genuinely excited and happy she seems to be. Plus she’s intelligent, thoughtful, and grounded – a welcome addition to the celebrity world.

  9. Catelina says:

    So excited for Jungle Book- that cast sounds great. Americanah should be good too assuming that that’s still happening.

  10. Alex says:

    Lupita is gorgeous inside and out. Excited to see the projects that she has coming up. I think she played it smart and probably carefully chose the next roles she attached herself to because she shot to fame very fast. So she did the right thing for her career. I’m excited for her

  11. LAK says:

    The photos made me soooo homesick. Boo hoo. Le sigh.

  12. Grace says:

    Love Lupita. She has poise, intelligence and damn good style.

  13. Mrs. Darcy says:

    She’s beautiful but I still think the pics looks way photo shopped to high heaven. When you blur/”perfect” things so much you lose so much character. I know it’s just the way it is, but I did this experiment the other day where I took pictures of my skin with and without soft focus, I am getting to that age where the soft focus appeals, but I lost my freckles, which only come out in photos in natural light. So I decided I prefer natural. I would so love someday to see an un-retouched magazine cover. Lupita is young and will never look better in her natural state than she does now, there is no reason they couldn’t get a good photographer to make her look her best without aid of digital interference. It’s weird to me because I used to act and headshots were always considered best done in natural light, with NO airbrushing (I don’t know if this is still the case). I really do not get this current trend for obliterating all imperfections and flat out mutilating the image in some cases.

  14. Alita says:

    A couple of people have mentioned the photoshopping in the header photo, but seriously, it needs more commentary as it is so OTT!!. Next level hack job. Aside from her tone being lightened a *lot* (and that ain’t all the lighting), the air brush action is incredibly overdone. As someone said, it almost looks like a painting.

    She seems to have interesting things to say, and a huge platform, but she and her management should step in to so these shenanigans. Photoshopping can be done tastefully, but this isn’t an example of it!