Best Supporting Actress trophy for 12 Years a Slave, but it has all been about reminding everyone of the importance of diversity on screen.
When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid” on Sunday night, I couldn’t help thinking back to the THR Actress roundtable she took part in last November. “When I was a little girl,” she recalled, “the first time I thought I could be an actor was when I watched The Color Purple.”
“I grew up in Kenya,” she continued, “and a lot of our programming was from all over the world, and we didn’t see ourselves onscreen. It was very rare that you’d see people that look like me. And [then] there was Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah.”
Nyong’o revealed that her recent success has given her the opportunity to pay that support forward. On the podium, she read part of a fan letter she received: “Dear Lupita… I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
Nyong’o then shared some anecdotes from her own childhood and adolescence, in particular how seeing model Alek Wek’s beauty celebrated in the media helped her embrace her own complexion:
This my friends, is the power of Hollywood.
Watch her touching speech below or read the transcript at Essence: