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The Respectability Politics of Lupita Nyong’o

The Respectability Politics of Lupita Nyong'o

Ahead of last weekend’s Academy Awards, The Hollywood Reporter published a feature on the anonymous comments of Oscar voters who explained with “brutal honesty” the reasons behind some of their picks. Instantly apparent was how many of the observations seemed arbitrary, or petty, or completely off-base. In the Best Supporting Actress category, one voter made the horrifying observation that Lupita Nyong’o had allegedly “brought sexuality” to her role as a victimized slave girl in 12 Year’s A Slave.

 

There was another who implied that all the “commotion” over her in recent months was simply because of the amount of “empathy and sympathy” that her character draws out from audiences, as if that effect on the viewer had nothing to do with her skill as an actress and everything to do with the fact that she was playing a slave. All unsurprising estimations from the 94% white, 76% male voting Academy.

Another voter’s remarks, though, especially stood out, pointing to a thread that has become a large component in Lupita’s meteoric (and ultimately well-deserved) rise from hardworking unknown to A-List it girl. The voter’s assessment was not just of her performance in the film, but her performance off screen. He (or she) commended the actress for “handling herself impeccably” during awards season, adding:

“She has acted like a movie star: she looks great, she is grateful, there’s no pictures of her drunk at some party. She’s played her part well.”

It may seem harmless on one level, but the comment is enormously telling. It highlights not only the politics that we are all vaguely aware of when it comes to who does and doesn’t get the Oscar, but the politics of respectability that have, for better or worse, colored so much of Lupita’s attention and success. Because what if Lupita hadn’t played her so-called part so well? What if she had been snapped drunk at a party? What if she wasn’t Ivy-League educated, poised, articulate, calculatedly and well-styled, full of such earnest awe and gratitude? And more importantly, what “part,” exactly, is she expected to play?

Consider last year’s it girl, Jennifer Lawrence. Much of Lawrence’s charm, what has seemingly endeared her to fans and voters alike, is the fact that she’s beautiful but brash, clumsy, outspoken, quick to drop an f-bomb or flip the bird, and unapologetic about her love of sports and junk food. If Lupita had exhibited those characteristics, if she were less poised and less stylishly presented, would she garner the same appreciation that she’s been getting? Would she still have won the Oscar? The ideal answer would be “Yes, of course.” But the thing about the ideal anything is that it doesn’t always reflect reality.

For better or worse, Lupita’s beauty and persona have become incredibly politicized. She’s ultimately a positive figure, standing as a reminder of the power of representation. During her childhood she was inspired to act by Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple, thirty years before that Whoopi was inspired to act by Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek. And today, as she revealed in her moving speech at Essence’s luncheon for black women in Hollywood, she’s received messages of gratitude from young, dark skinned girls who feel empowered to embrace their complexions the way Hollywood has embraced hers.

But there’s something to be said for the exotification of Lupita, and the heavy burden that all the attention she gets, so much of it hinging on her singular beauty (by Hollywood’s standards), has brought her. There have been other black actresses who look like her, but few have come so close to the potential of true leading lady, true A-List star. Perhaps part of that is down to the fact that she isn’t African-American, but Kenyan, a fact that only further exotifies her and distances her from the so-called baggage that comes with black American actors. Perhaps part of it also has to do with the role which introduced her to us – is Hollywood subconsciously in awe that she is not Patsey, or more specifically a Patsey of the 21st Century?

Lupita is the “right” kind of (dark) black woman for Hollywood. Her aesthetic, though different than anything we’ve ever seen before, is digestible because its wrapped up in a package that makes people like the Oscar voter feel comfortable, unthreatened. Which isn’t to take anything away from her – her impact is sorely needed, and important. Hollywood already has a problem with showcasing black actors and telling black stories. Perhaps she could change that. However the question is not only if its prepared to accommodate Lupita’s presence, but if it’s ready to open doors for other women who look like her. In other words, how much impact can Lupita even make?

As writer Janell Hobson recently pointed out in an essay titled ‘Black Female Too-Muchness,’ the problem is that Lupita has been propped up as a sort of exception to a rule, a standard to which all other black women, especially those who look like her, are held. Earlier this week, there was a controversial cartoon released depicting a little black girl with posters of Lupita plastered across her bedroom wall, while posters of Nicki Minaj are stuffed into her trash can. By denigrating Minaj and putting Lupita on a pedestal of exemplary black womanhood, the artist, and those who share the sentiments of the cartoon, do not only Minaj but Lupita a disservice.

Ultimately, the politics of how Lupita Nyong’o has been received are largely out of her control, as were those final votes that allowed her to walk onto that stage last Sunday and into Academy Award history. Yes, Lupita is amazing, talented, and beautiful, but as her star continues to ascend there’s a sense that the near saint-like status that we’ve all been complicit in could be damaging somehow. The activist Janet Mock’s words in her memoir Redefining Realness may speak rather aptly to Lupita’s condition now, the condition of being the exception to Hollywood’s rule. “Being exceptional isn’t revolutionary,” Mock writes. “It’s lonely.”

Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York. She runs a personal movie blog, Film Memory, and co-hosts the podcast Two Brown Girls. Follow her on Twitter @zblay.

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Comments

Jane

Sad the media tells us who to celebrate. How the media defines and redefines our beauty. Lupita is no more talented and beautiful than Saldana , Washington or union. All those brands like Prada , Chanel and Lancôme who have suddenly discovered black beauty are they now using more black models no I guess not!!!

WALA

and just to add, let's STOP treating Lupita as a victim. I'm astonished at how there's always a flurry of writing analyzing every single reference of someone who happens to be black – and what that means. Lupita is not a victim. Being celebrated as she is being, is something we shouldn't be spending so much time criticizing. Let's just be happy for her, can we?

wala

i think it's precisely because Lupita doesn't carry herself as a black person first, that people tune in to her as a person and embrace her. And i don't mean to knock African Americans and the experience of being black in America, so please bear with me as i elaborate. Being Kenyan myself, i can tell you that i have had conversations and friendships with white people that i'm convinced they would not have with an African American. Why? Because my perspective is very different. When a white person is not nice to me, racism is the furthest thing on my mind. Why? Because my personal experience is that people can decide not to like me because they are having a bad day/ because of my gender/ social economic status/ religion/ education…and you name it. THAT has been my personal experience – that people will hate. They will find SOMETHING. So if one day they pick my skin color as a reason, i'm able to shrug it off easier as a Kenyan living in America, than an African American would. An African American's experience with discrimination, unlike mine, has racism as a very prominent and overwhelming component. Lupita, like myself, did not grow up thinking about being the only black person in the room. That is simply not a part of our consciousness, and i guarantee you that other people pick up on whatever cues we send out that communicate that state of being.

I think for me, it's interesting yet frustrating when i see articles such as these that view Lupita's experience from the viewpoint of the African American experience. I want to shout out loud "she doesn't fit that perspective". Like Iman, Alek, and Liya, and others, Lupita is black, but it's very clear that she is seen as waaay more than that, and when white people and others deal with her, her being black is obvious but also not the prominent thing about her. It's simply just something else about her – something that makes a total package. And because Lupita carries herself with this in her subconscious, others *see* it and respond. So it stops being about her race and more about her intelligence, fashion sense, education, talent, and you name it. It becomes about getting to know her as a person, not her as a black person. I guarantee you that while racism and other forms of discrimination exist everywhere in the world. They are not as magnified as they are here in the US. As a foreign black person living here, i KNOW that some people will be racist, but it doesn't have the same effect on me, precisely because of my history with other types of discrimination. So for me it's just another thing, another lazy excuse for someone to be hateful, and so my response is not as visceral and i can shrug it off easier. I'm not right, and i'm not wrong…it just is. It's all about our different experiences, and no one way is right(er) or wrong(er) than the other. It just is.

Hope57

If you take a good look at Lupita, her beauty is not a different kind than what Hollywood and many others have traditionally cherished: She has large, far-set eyes, a symmetrical, balanced face, small pert nose, lush lips, high cheekbones, and a thin toned body. The only things unusual about her beauty is her skin tone and her proudly wearing her hair short and natural. Otherwise, she is a "classic" beauty.

PMF

So happy to have found this blog! Great post again. Lupita has filled our hearts and minds contemplating all that is right and wrong surrounding her recent rise in recognition and reward. My heart's in my mouth as Angela Lansbury, who won an Oscar early in her career, said it frightened her to be so honored at that time. I wish Lupita as rich a career, but historically the roles have not been there for black actresses. The historic competition and animosity between American born black people in whites continues to be a factor in our lives. I hope no one failed to notice that our 1st black president is only 1/2 black and the other is Luo–Kenyan, like Lupita. BTW No representative or stable black presence in the US senate only a black present who emerged fully formed from the head of Zeus or Zgniew Brzezinski or George Tzoros. The answer would be of course real power for black filmmakers — good luck sidestepping the the Weinsteins etc. making and distributing anything other the usual product.

anon

"Perhaps part of that is down to the fact that she isn’t African-American, but Kenyan, a fact that only further exotifies her and distances her from the so-called baggage that comes with black American actors. Perhaps part of it also has to do with the role which introduced her to us – is Hollywood subconsciously in awe that she is not Patsey, or more specifically a Patsey of the 21st Century? "
Precisely she is NOT a decendent of slaves and therefore has no slave anstry whites will do ANYTTHING not to support aa's they will find the darkest african and put her on a pedsatal before the average aa woman. Dont get me wrong I love her but intresting she descends form the same country as obama -just putting that out there!

Chris

Regina King is just a hair lighter than Lupita, has a stellar acting resume (both film and telvision), her range as an actress is dynamic to say the least but Hollywood hasnt given her a moment's notice. We are obsessed with Lupita b/c well, she's drop dead gorgeous, model looks, smart, has a to die for body and killer style team, yes she went to Yale but if her first film were "Bridesmaids"? There wld be no talk of Oscar noms. The film, racism, slavery, obviously those things matter in this case. Is Lupita a star? Yes, but is she the first of her kind? No. Hollywood then, clearly, isnt just abt talent.

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No

Astute insight. Marc Lamont Hill was making similar observations on Huff Post Live; he said that he thought that whites were "fetishizing" (turning her into a "magical Negro") because of her poise and charm.

Well, he was roundly attacked by some black women for trying to denigrate a dark-skinned black woman who is making in Hollywood and that Hill represented blacks (especially black men) who don't appreciate dark-skinned black women, etc.

Onyx

Very good article. Since I'm old enough to recall actresses before Lupita came along, let me state that for me, Cicely Tyson was rocking the short afro and stylish dresses. Check out her picture on vintage black glamour on tumblir. It's post 29234627222 showing Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis in august of 1968 (sorry, but the actual link wouldn't take).

I recall history being made with Cicely on TV as a secretary in the TV show East Side/West Side. And while she didn't win an Oscar for her role in the movie Sounder, that film still holds up today. Yes, there have been actresses who resemble Lupita, (Brenda Sykes comes to mind) and unless you were back in the day, you may not know they were also revered, much like Lupita is today. However I will say that media coverage wasn't 24/7 back then regarding celebrities, so this time period is truly different.

When I see Lupita, I see yet another talented black woman among a long list of other talented thespians.

Lupita simply behaves like the adult she is

So much overanalyzing… Lupita carries herself like many non-American adult women in public life–she behaves like an adult, she's not silly, she doesn't speak like a tween, and she carries herself like a professional actor who takes the profession seriously. Regardless of race, many American audiences commonly see adult women act immaturely. Women in the rest of the world tend to act their age.

KAMMs

EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT article. Had this discussion on Twitter just the other day and so happy someone put it in to words to well.

Kudos & thank you. :O)

KAMMs

STAAAHHHHPPPP

Half the comments here play into the exact respectability politics the author is writing about, which has NOTHING to do with Lupita and everything to do with how people will only give her the respect she is due as long as she behaves a certain way. Lupita is not doing a pony show for you people; she is being herself, so y'all can stop acting like she's working so hard to impress anybody but Lupita. You are all the ones placing an unacceptable burden on her. Lupita gone do Lupita no matter what you all think.

That's why I love that she hung out with Rihanna at Paris Fashion Week. They are both amazing black women and do not deserve to be scrutinized by people, white or black, who only see their value in how "respectable" they are.

Nita

Jennifer Lawrence's reception is a double edged-sword. Yes, she gets applauded for sticking the finger, being crass, etc, but is that "society" recognizing her as an woman who doesn't conform to the standards of ladihood (a set of rules established basically that purposefully excluded black women during slavery), or is her reception the equivalent of adults going "Aww, how cute!" when I child misbehaves in an innocuous manner? Does the media and Hollywood love Lawrence because she's spunky without posing a serious threat to the status quo? She's white, industry-standard pretty, and a decent actress. She fits the Hollywood mold as the non-threatening ingenue. With that backdrop, white media's going to let some things slide because she's not really threatening to disrupt the system. And, honestly, I find Jennifer Lawrence's behavior to be indicative of her age, if not childish. Lupita is 8 years older, I would hope if she flips off someone in a room full of press, it would be for a better reason than just because. But considering the age gap, I find it incredibly odd that the two women are being compared based on their behavior. If Lawrence is still pulling the spunky clumsy act at 31, her reception would be as warm. Even now, the schtick is getting stale. And would she get as much hatred at Nicki Minaj? Of course not!
As for Lupita, I've been hearing that she's getting offered roles outside of the typical black actress genres (slave movies, black best friend, black rom-coms). I know there's buzz going around that she's in the talks to being a lead in the new Star Wars movies and novel based flick about a Nigerian-born student adjusting to going to college in the US. Regardless of respectability politics, which you rightly pointed out is out of her control, if these rumors come to fruition, she's going to be breaking the mold and allowing room for other non-white actresses to get a chance at diverse roles outside the norm. And I see her situation different than Jennifer Hudson and Mo'Nique because their careers went into radio silence almost the day after the Oscars, no casting rumors or anything.
And isn't it always the case that when one Black woman succeeds another is torn down? Nicki Minaj gets a lot of flack for her so-called vulgar image, but rarely anyone in main stream media recognizes her incredible business savvy and lyrical talent. Black women aren't allowed to showcase or talk about their sexuality or to swear and be outspoken. But it also seems like we're penalized if we are humble, soft spoken, or demure. If we're the former, we're "ghetto" and "loud" sluts. The latter and successful? Well that's because we're playing into respectability politics. It's a lose lose situation until the Black community learns to accept both and those in between and stops putting so much weight on the white reception. How that can be done when white males hold a majority of the power in the entertainment industry is the real challenge.

Tyson

Great article. Personally I didn't think Lupita's performance in 12 Years a Slave was brilliant or extraodinary. Patsey is a sympathetic character and I believe had Patsey been played by any actress, they would have received a nomination as well. Anyone in that role would have been noticed. I also don't understand everyone saying how gorgeous and flawless she is. I see women like her everyday and there are many women with her look and style who are so much more beautiful than she is. Hollywood mainly focuses on Lupita's over exaggerated and debatable looks and rarely focus on anything else about her. That alone should tell you something. They'll build her up and then tear her down.

T Nails

Get grip people. The reason why Lupita is the lady of the moment is because she's breath of fresh air. She did a good performance in 12 Years. But let's face it, strip a black woman naked and whip her raw, the Academy will be guilted into bestowing awards and ignore an arguably more skilled and substantial performance by Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine". The Academy and by extension white America still see black film roles of gravitas as victim roles. Rarely do they care much for black roles that do not involve white folks as either oppressor or savior. Uhuru why hath thou forsaken us?

Lupita's off stage performance is what's made her the sensation she is now. Chewitel Ejiefor did far more heavy lifting, yet had no PR campaign to speak of. Perhaps he didn't care as he's well established. Lupita, well spoken and highly educated, epitomizes style and class. In this world of crass, slutty obsessed, vain, trashy, self absorbed and dysfunctional celebrities, I think the public has been yearning for someone who seems to have it together both in beauty and brains. Her persona heritage has more in common with Audrey Hepburn than Lil Kim. The pedigree of a global star.

All I hope now is Lupita extends her talents beyond the victimography that seems to define "Academy worthy" black female performances and gives us truly triumphal performances that say more about the human spirit than her dark hue. In short, someone please cast her in something where she plays someone who takes control of her destiny.

What can I say, I'm tired of the black punching bag films where the morality of whites is determined over the bodies of blacks. If Hollywood or Lupita should ever revisit the slave genre, let it be Harriet Tubman or Nat Turner.

Burp

I agree with the article. I know what it is like to be exotified by non blacks. I hear all the time from folks "your not really african american your guyanese/jamaican" as if my cultural experience separates me from the race which I belong to. What does that mean? That in america my experience of being a afro-carribean black will be separate from black americans. I don't think Lupita's experience will be any different from the most successful black women of america. She is still black at the end of the day and thats how "America" will view her at the end of the day. That fact that she is of Kenyan decent and of darker skin may add even more fodder to the basket of cultural stereotypes.

I would say that it is time hollywood would recognize us for roles outside of the stereotypical roles which blacks often play

Burp

very good article once again….thanks

LL2

Don't articles like this which analyze and dissect her contribute to the problem? At the end of the day, Lupita is a human being living her life just like all of us. Let her be. We all have expectations to live up to that may or may not be fair. That's life. I wish her all the best and I'm going to take ownership of my role in the problem by refusing to click on any more articles that analyze Lupita as if she is a research topic and not a human being.

Troy

Journalists more so than authors often toe the line of common decency often causing reviewers and commenters to cross said toe'd line in order to respond. Many comments ignore Zeba Blay is Ghanian born. She also advocated no women be denigrated to which many commenters spouted their support of denigration of people they disagree with. The politics of white males with a visible track record of closeted thinking being analyzed in reference to Lupita made some commenters think that the author was finding reason to cast doubt on her success. How dare the author use a quote of a transgender it proves that she has anti-Christian, anti-conservative and pro-liberal bias that she is trying to make Lupita victim of. I love this site many well define stereotypes and tropes that are thought to only exist in non-black people are revealed to be very vibrant and alive in the non-monolithic black race. The vitriol between the diversity of sensibilities in the black community is more vast and more sexually based than any fiction literature mega-verse similar to Octavia Spencer, Orwell, or George R. R. Martin. Art should imitate this life where people disagree with people they agree with because they cannot read their facial expression through their words.

guest

@SAADIYAH

Sorry, but if you remove Halle Berry's sex scene from Monster's Ball she doesn't even get nominated. That's a fact. It was, by far, the most graphic interracial sex scene ever filmed for a mainstream Hollywood film.

Donella

Lupita is Mexi-Kenyan.

Though both her parents are Kenyan and raised her in Kenya, she was BORN in Mexico and still holds Mexican citizenship and spent time there as an adult. Lupita identifies as both Mexican and Kenyan and therefore, so should you.

Lupita also deserved the Oscar that she won based on the hard work she put in training for the role, the endurance she showed on set, and good sport she was in promoting the film.

I don't support your effort to throw shade over her sunshine.

Your issues with Lupita are a personal reflection of you.

Not her.

Just Passing By

I think Blay makes some interesting points. Some on point, others not so much.

" There have been other black actresses who look like her, but few have come so close to the potential of true leading lady, true A-List star."

Part of what makes any Actor — male or female — and A-list star is being involved in a project, like "12 YAS" that people are genuinely interested in, and discussing ad nauseam. And not many actors of any race get the opportunity to play roles that keep audiences talking, thinking, contemplating, or even digging further into a subject matter months AFTER they've seen said film, or play. Having the opportunity to play Patsey is, partially, what places Lupita, immediately, on the A-list. … I mean, arguably, the last actor to capture the imagination of audiences with such a portrayal is Daniel Day Lewis for last year's "Lincoln."

I agree with Random Commentary that when you start to think about some of the other black NAME actresses that we're familiar with in the states, it's difficult to imagine any of them in the role for a number of reasons. The main one being her aesthetic. Lupita DOES look like most enslaved women of the time period. As does Adepero Oduye. We cannot deny McQueen's casting was on point, and that Lupita did an amazing job capturing the spirit of Patsey.

As far as respectability politics are concerned, Blay appears to be projecting her own issues with decorum and how Lupita carries herself onto Lupita. What's wrong with being respectable, and articulate, and well-spoken and humble, and having grace and poise? I would certainly much rather see the media fawn and clamor and talk about, and given ink to Lupita than Minaj, who, as the elders used to say, is "not keeping in line with being a credit to her race." Minaj is a walking minstrel show, shilling for dough.

And finally, I don't believe J Law is getting a pass, as the author implies. Perhaps, its simply the proliferation of a 24/7 media and social media cycle that makes it seems this way. …

I would posit that Whoopi Goldberg was — and remains — the black equivalent of Oscar nominee/winner to Jennifer Lawrence, to a small degree, in terms of how she carries herself.

Whoopi is someone who has never played by the rules, and chooses to be herself, no matter what anyone thinks. To some she is a poor dresser, tacky (Read: Black Face at the Friar's club with Ted Danson) and a rather tasteless rube, in terms of how she carries and conducts herself in public — outside of the realm of comedy. She's certainly never been known as a fashionista, much less a role model, but some people do find her charming. …And she won an Oscar. … And continues to be herself — regardless of what others say.

Random Commentary

Has anybody truthfully looked at the larger picture? Lupita Nyong’o was right-casted for her role in 12 YAS. The same situation with Gabourey Sidibe in Precious. If any other mainstream dark complexion A-list actress played that same role in 12 YAS, the first thing coming out of everyone's mouth would be, "Why a black woman gotta be raped and whipped by a white man in order to win a oscar." (ala Halle Berry's sex scene with Billy Bob Thornton.) The only reason Halle won was because of her sex scene, not because that was her greatest performance. The same situation with Lupita. A virtually anonymous black woman having the atrocities of slavery performed against her. More women looked like Lupita during the actual period of slavery than Kelsey Scott, Storm Reid, Vivian Fleming-Alvarez, or Alfre Woodard. Because the horrors of slavery are known and Lupita realistically looked closer to the truth, black's and white's accepted what they saw on the screen in agreement. She rightfully won an oscar for her performance and more than likely will be type-casted hence foward.

Realdiamond

From my viewpoint, this article is not diminishing her performance at all. It is about how the Oscars voters base their vote on things other than the actual acting in the movie. Respectability politics is a game played by PR firms and others for and against artists, and it is just one of the games Hollywood plays. Yes, Lupita is not the first woman of color with style and grace who could have won an Oscar, so why haven't the others one is the question.

These"games people play" may also be the reason other great white actors have not won for their great performances.

boomslang

I wasn't *hate reading* this post , however the tired argument about caucasians loving Africans instead of the homegrown Africans *cough* Americans , truly does my head in .
Maybe we should spin this up a little. Care to explain why there has never been a leading african lady in any of the successful african american movies ? Because I don't remember seeing one offered a part .

I'm sorry to inform you that 3/4 of the people commenting on this article have a reactionary reverse racism , and they are holding Lupita hostage.

Oh and about Nickie Minaj , yes she belongs in the trash can . She is a bleached up jive talking puppet .

And nobody has ever seen a black girl with Lupita's features ? WTH! ? she is from Mars ? or are you looking at Lupita with a confederate camera lense .

a

I think the problem many people have is the uncomfortable feeling that if Lupita was born and raised in Harlem with black american parents, we would not be givng her a second thought. Her undeniable beauty would not be discussed. She would be invisible.

Theo

why are certain people (african americans in particular) trying so hard to tear this girl down and diminish her? they have been brainwashed to a point that when someone as naturally beautiful as lupita comes along they can't accept. you should be proud of her and celebrate her, and try your best to ensure that she has as big a career as some one like jennifer lawrence, instead you try and find negative things to say about her.

Jona

Wow, yet another fellow black American playing the Yankee card. Why can't you just accept that successful black women exist in other countries, and that black women can behave respectably because they ARE respectable (and they are not trying hard)? I mean which is it? We are upset when black women stereotypes are displayed in the media, now we are supposed to be upset when we see a black woman in the media who goes against every stereotype? What will satisfy the majority of us? Why are we looking for things to complain about just for blog hits?
Celebrate Lupita. She should be a role model for every young black girl to look up to, American or not. Along with Ursula Burns, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Nancy Wilson, Phylicia Rashad. Stop caring about what white people think and celebrate the classy, educated, respectable black woman (regardless of her nationality). Celebrate respectability because there is NOTHING wrong with BEING RESPECTABLE FOR YOURSELF!!!

Rocket

Congrats to Lupita. I hope she can actually parlay her win into a very rewarding career.

With that said, my fatigue with the her coverage is starting to kick in. I know we aren't supposed to say that but I will. We get it. She's regal, respectable, and not like the rest of those others. The message has been sent.

Solid E

Congratulations to Miss Lupita. The door to fame and fortune is wide open for her. I just hope the quality of screenwriting in Hollywood can match her talents.

QBN

I have no problem denigrating Nicki Minaj while praising Lupita. There is nothing praise worthy about Nicki Minaj. Stop projecting your issues onto Lupita.. she's probably just being an extension of her real personality, yet this is not "powerful" or "revolutionary" enough for you. Is it too much to just be happy for the sista without making up "issues" to worry about?

new black

It's more than possible that she'll make it. Can we celebrate her and not wait for her demise? My God. White girls DO NOT have to deal with their community waiting to tear them apart. If you're worried for Lupita, pray for her! We give too much power to society and history and the past, even as we analyze its parts.

Bread-Free

Could we not encourage the mainstreaming of trans persons? Janet Mock with Laverne Cox are not black women. They're mutilated men in drag with a large dosage of female hormone and a lot of unjustified self-righteous delusion. Please for the sake of actual biological and God appointed black women let's not pretend they're because they're black.

Before you come at me some kind of way. I am a black gay man. And the mainstreaming of trans persons is cause for concern for everyone. This isn't some for the sake of the children diatribe — all that biological black women have endured to birth us and nurture us I refuse to embrace this new normal. And I won't be left behind because the trans argument if fully embraced will bring down the rest of civilization because other groups will outrageous and unreal claims will pop out the woodwork to justify their new found loophole through trans acceptance.

mantan

this just proves that anyone can write an article about anything, even if there's nothing there or new to write about….

Nikki

Reading some of these comments, you'd think that the article was about Jennifer Lawrence vs. Lupita or it's about attacking Lupita. Maybe I misinterpreted it :-/

Anyway, NO ONE is perfect and EVERYONE has their detracters. I do have to say before we say Lupita has a high pedestal to uphold, she has to get there first. Yes she's won an Oscar, but so far she has no films lined up. Nothing! I mean she has to have a career first. I'm just waiting to see what her next role is.

jess

I thought a little about this issue earlier this week when I found out that she's 31. She presents herself as being so overly humble and girlish–I didn't think she was older than mid-20s–that I wonder if this persona developed as a coping mechanism for a foreigner in America trying to carve out a path past the doorkeepers of Hollywood and the Ivy League, or if this is her everyday M.O. I've seen it with educated expatriates of African and Caribbean descent in the corporate world, and it is a smart (though limiting and ascetic) strategy for moving forward in your career in the short term…but does it add up to any REAL power in the end?

Writer

Why are you comparing a woman like Lupita who is

Valerie

This article is EVERYTHING! Of course its endearing for Jennifer Lawrence to act like act so unlady like but no actress of color will ever be able to attain A-list status, and behave the way Lawrence is acting. Oh the double standards! Every black actress that has won an oscar has faded into obscurity. With only minor achievements in the hear after. I don't understand why people praise her for "keeping it real" isn't Lupita doing the same thing?! How is sticking up the middle finger and displaying crass, behavior, keeping it real? I'm sure Lawrence is a nice girl, and she's given a few great performances, but how does she get a pass?

Oh I know, because she's WHITE.

Patch Neck Red

Never mind the fact that she is talented in her craft or she has trained at one of the best conservatory in the world. However you choose to focus on behavior and skin tone. If anything we have learned from a movie like 12 years a slave is true healing has yet to begun. We still have a jealousy, envy, bitterness , and self hate in our community. We should quit trying to find flaws and lift each other up. Why would you even put the thought of being drunk to justify your hate. When Shadow and Act content first came out it was about the Diaspora but lately I find it more about gossip. Keep the dialogue at a high level don't succumb to what's easy keep challenging us to do better. IJS

I'm Just Saying...

First, Nicki Minaj needs to and should be denigrated for her act, music and overall overly sexualized behavior. There is nothing of merit or positivity to be upheld in her actions. Who wishes for their daughter's to grow up to be the next Nicki Minaj? To make it seem as if there was a real choice amongst the two show's your reach in trying to make a very thin argument.
People like Jennifer Lawrence not because she's some crass actress, causing mayhem in Hollywood, but because she still genuinely modest and thankful for her success and can make fun of the whole stupor around her meteoric rise.
You put a lot a words together to say nothing in general.
Are you alluding that people expect Blacks to behavior perfectly in order to be recognized?

Bravo!!

Your African American studies 101 class has finally paid off!

LOL!
This isn't exclusive to Lupita but in effect for Minorities on a whole.
You can't be just like them and expect the same treatment. Hasn't that been well document now for over what, a hundred or so years??
Don't be lazy. I understand you have deadlines, quotas and articles to maintain. Please just don't create an issue that's not really there.
Give Lipita her props for being the person she is.
A great example of Black womanhood.
Anything else is just shade

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