OSCAR WIN

Lupita Nyong'o opens up to Oprah about feeling unworthy

In Summary

•Lupita became the first African to win an Oscar when she received the award for Best Supporting Actress in 2014.

•She portrayed the role of a  slave named Patsey in Steve McQueen’s historical film 12 years a slave.

Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo sat down with Oprah for a primetime special titled OWN Spotlight: Oprah at Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo on October 24
Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo sat down with Oprah for a primetime special titled OWN Spotlight: Oprah at Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo on October 24
Image: COURTESY

“What happens when they say, ‘And the Oscar goes to … ’? And then you hear your name.”

Lupita Nyong’o confessed that it wasn’t until she saw the reaction of her brother that she understood it was her name that was called.

The Oscar award winner cleared her schedule on October 24 for an armchair chat with the queen.

Lupita became the first African to win an Oscar when she received the award for Best Supporting Actress in 2014.

She portrayed the role of a  slave named Patsey in Steve McQueen’s historical film 12 years a slave.

“I remember just feeling so grateful. I was very aware that the joy in my life had come from so much pain,” Lupita said.

She said that her character, Patsey, was a real woman. A young slave whose tragic story is depicted in visceral and brutal detail in McQueen’s film adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, Patsey’s legacy lives on through Nyongo’o.

“I definitely felt like I was a vessel to tell her story,” she told Oprah.

Lupita Nyong'o won an Oscar award in 2014
Lupita Nyong'o won an Oscar award in 2014
Image: COURTESY

The pair moved on to discuss entertainment industry colourism, working in today’s Hollywood, and future projects.

Growing up, she was a victim of colourism and wished to have a different skin tone.

"I grew up feeling uncomfortable with my skin colour because I felt like the world around me awarded lighter skin," she narrated.

Her younger sister, whose skin was lighter, was called "beautiful" and "pretty".

"Self-consciously that translates into: 'I'm not worthy'," she said.

​The actor said she was once told at an audition that she was too dark for television.

Not only is Nyong’o on the lips of every Academy Award pundit for her absorbing dual role, Adelaide Wilson/Red, in the Jordan Peele chiller Us.

The actress is also celebrating her newly published children’s picture book, Sulwe, an inner-beauty tale about a little girl who has the darkest skin in her family.

'Sulwe', meaning Star is about colourism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

In the debut picture book, the actress creates a heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

"Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected immediately, and it is a window for all the others to cherish peering into," she wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Oprah Winfrey and Cynthia Erivo.
Oprah Winfrey and Cynthia Erivo.
Image: COURTESY

In addition to chatting with Nyong’o, Oprah dished with another award-winning actress: Cynthia Erivo.

Just an Oscar shy of EGOT status, Erivo has a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy, all courtesy of her Broadway debut in 2015 as Celie in The Color Purple.

She discussed her upcoming role as Harriet Tubman in the aptly named filmed, Harriet, which costars fellow Grammy frequenter Janelle Monae.