Spotlight On: Lupita Nyong’o

Prior to the release of 12 Years a Slave, no one outside of Kenya knew who Lupita Nyongo was and what she was capable of.  Skip ahead six months after the premier at the Toronto Film Festival and the whole world has nothing but praise and the highest esteem for the young, talented actress. Not only has she gained fame and fortune but honour; she was recently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She is nominated alongside some of the biggest names in the business namely; Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, June Squibb and Sally Hawkins. Lupita Nyongo is in very good company.

Born in Mexico City while her father, Peter Anyang Nyongo -a prominent Kenyan politician- was a visiting professor, Lupita has always had an interest for entertainment. So much so that she pursued it to the college level in the United States of America before returning to Kenya in 2008 to star in the smash-hit Shuga. Still, she wanted to perfect her skill further an enrolled in the prestigious Yale School of Drama. It was soon after her graduation from Yale that she landed the breakout role of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave (see performance clip below).  

As much as the whole of Africa is proud of Lupita for doing us proud, let us critically examine the movie that she was a part of. 12 Years a Slave is quite obviously a movie about slavery. A subject that causes many African’s shame and embarrassment, as it should, no human being was made to serve another human being. Why is this subject constantly being revisited? There is not much that can come out of it, at the end of the day majority of the time we will all conclude that SLAVERY IS BAD. So why continually make movies about it? Africa has been liberated and even America has a black president, can’t we just move on? As much as I admire the work of Lupita Nyongo, if I was in her shoes I would not have taken the role. Africans need to be reminded of all the positive things happening on the continent, not the shame that will forever be written in stone in our history.

Despite my reservations about the movie Lupita delivers astoundingly, letting everyone know that she is a force to be reckoned with. Her performance has already garnered many awards including a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, as well as a host of others. Lupita we are all behind you, keep doing us proud! 

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