Lupita Nyong’o learned a lot of valuable lessons as an acting student at the Yale School of Drama—Shakespeare, accents, Alexander techniques—but there was one important omission. “We’ve been told it’s going to be a long, lonely, hard and futile journey as an actor,” Nyong’o said. “You’re going to be the No. 3 policewoman for a long time before you get anywhere. They help prepare us mentally for failure, but they don’t prepare us for success.”
In Nyong’o’s case, when her first feature film won an Oscar, the success came quickly and the dramatic film role came straight out of Yale, in 1000of008 for many years as a slave . In Nyong’o’s video at the time, she seemed uncharacteristically calm as she was interviewed by the media and accepted her award. But that grace belies an inner turmoil that will have serious implications for her health. “I’ve been reducing my panic because the body doesn’t know the difference between extreme failure and extreme success,” Nyong’o said, now 10. “You’re in trouble anyway. I’m proud of how I weathered that particular storm, but it cost me. It cost me physically. I’m very skinny. My body Tormenting myself, I have fibroids.”
Nyong’o finally accepted She had surgery to remove the fibroids and she is healthy today. When she shared the story over lunch at a beachfront restaurant in Malibu in August, the Kenyan-Mexican actress emerged as a strikingly charming figure at the table of athleisure-clad Californians. She wore a yellow and brown floral jacquard jumpsuit with puff sleeves by Nigerian-American designer Autumn Adeigbo, and a Christian Dior snake ring that was about to swallow a monkey. “A sad and beautiful scene,” she said of the ring. “It doubles as a weapon.”
Brooklyn-based Nyong’o is considered a serious and determined actress, and she is no doubt so, but so is she, because few people know it , naughty and self-deprecating. Because the huge waves interfered with the recording of this interview, she picked up a digital tape recorder, tucked it into her tube top, and spoke with a red light flashing in the center of her chest. “Don’t worry,” she said, waving her hand. “Nobody’s looking at my cleavage.” The light side, and her status as a major foodie, is more evident on her Instagram and TikTok accounts, where she shares how she eats in Italy or tries cooking with ants ‘s video.
After the Oscars, Nyong’o got a lot of interesting work – a terrifying double lead role in Jordan Peele’s Us, motion capture Played the pirate queen Maz Kanata in the Star Wars movie and eclipsed the stage role as a rape victim during the Liberian Civil War in the Broadway play, which earned Nyong’o a Tony nomination. She also plays Nakia in Black Panther, a warrior activist and lover of King T’Challa of Wakanda. Once again, Nyong’o was part of the extraordinary and unprecedented success that brought in $1.3 billion at the global box office, became the first Marvel film to be nominated for Best Picture, and marked a defining moment in the global impact of black culture.
In the sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, coming out in November, Nyong’o reprises the role of Nakia, this time without the man who plays her king, Chadwick Boseman, who died in August 2014 Colon cancer. Boseman’s death shocked the world, including his closest collaborators. Nyong’o knew Boseman was ill, but not terminally ill, and she learned of his death in a text message from Viola Davis. “I couldn’t believe it,” Nyong’o said. “I’m paralyzed.” For her, Boseman was more than a colleague for many of the film’s cast and crew. He used to be a spiritual pillar. “He has an aura,” Nyong’o said. “He’s the leader and we’re all good.”
Nyong’o sees how Boseman takes on the responsibilities of starring in a big movie and how he keeps his boundaries . “Sometimes Chadwick says no to me, I’m not happy with him,” she said. “I tried my best to change his mind, and he would express love so calmly, ‘I know, but I don’t know’.” At one point, she wanted him to come to South Africa with her and Danai Gurira to promote Black Panther . “As an African-American who came to South Africa, I felt it was important for him to stay on the continent. I think it’s a strong symbol that he’s not going,” Nyong’o said. “Now I know he’s battling cancer and there may be medical reasons. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried glamour. I’ve debated him on the political front and he’s smiling and sighing and he’s like , ‘I know, Lupita. I can’t go.'” Instead, Boseman sent a message with her and Gurira. “He influenced the way I act in the world,” Nyong’o said. “But that’s the Chadwick thing. Chadwick isn’t trying to make everyone like him. He inspires you to be the best version of yourself. So how I’m going to lead a series is still a long way off – I Not that person. I’m not Chadwick at all. I never will.”
With Boseman’s passing, the future of a team that meant so much to so many suddenly changed unclear. “Losing your core changes everything,” Nyong’o said. “When you say the world revolves around him, it revolves around him, and it does.” Black Panther Writer-director Ryan Coogler and his co-writer Joe Robert Cole For Black Panther A sequel centered on Boseman’s character and his evolution as a leader. “The script we wrote before Chadwick’s death was largely rooted in T’Challa’s views,” Coogler said. “It’s a grand movie and a character study that goes deep into his psyche and situation.” Marvel’s decision not to reprise the role of T’Challa with another actor, arguing that it was premature, The decision sparked a debate among some fans, who feared that losing T’Challa as a character in pop culture would hurt audiences, especially as black boys and men saw themselves in him. Nyong’o said she supports Marvel’s decision not to recast T’Challa. “It’s not the death of the Panther, it’s the point,” Nyong’o said. “It’s taking a break [T’Challa] and letting real life tell the story of the movie. I know there are all kinds of reasons people want him to recast, but I don’t have the patience. I don’t have the presence of the mind, or I don’t have the objectivity To counter this. I don’t. I’m very biased.”
instead of recast Chara, Coogler, and Cole rewrote the script to include the character’s death and reframe the story from the perspective of another character, a different Wakanda turned Black Panther. “Black Panther has been around in Wakanda for centuries, so the idea of someone else taking over the mantle doesn’t seem inorganic,” said Nate Moore, Marvel Studios VP of Production and Development and Black Producer Say Black Panther: Wakanda Forever . “But once that has to come to pass, it’s, ‘Okay, what makes the most sense for this story? Who in the world makes the most sense to accept this? All the characters in the movie have a lot to do with who should wear the mantle and why. There are different ideas.” Based on the LEGO set and the trailer of the female figure in Black Panther costume, fans have speculated that the role of Letitia Wright, T’Challa’s sister Shuri, will take over the role of Wakanda’s protector, just like what happens in the Marvel comics Like that. Nyong’o will always be in the sequel, and she could play that pivotal role too. Nyong’o paused when asked if she was really the new Black Panther. “If I told you, I might as well… swim into the ocean and never see again.”
Just a few months after Boseman’s death, Nyong’o was in Kenya, Coog Le contacted her via Zoom to convey his plans for the film, which at the time seemed almost impossible to consider, let alone produce. “Every time I think about the next Black Panther could be anything, my imagination fell flat,” Nyong’o said. “Even just talking about Black Panther in a still sad Chadwick, it’s really complicated emotionally.” Coogler described him and Cole to her How to rewrite their script with Wakanda’s mourning as a central point. “Ryan writes something so respectful of how each of us really feels, those of us who know Chadwick,” she said. “He created something that respected that and moved the story forward. By the end, I was crying.”
Wakanda Forever Part of the story is set underwater, as the film introduces the kingdom of Talokhan and the character of Namor, a sort of Marvel version of Aquaman, played by Tenok Huerta, who is in Narcotics: Plays Rafa Quintero in Mexico . While the film was in pre-production, Nyong’o (whose character is from a river tribe in Wakanda) began training underwater and regularly sent Coogler and Moore her training videos. “She’d be there holding her breath and carrying a huge weight across the water,” Moore said. “We didn’t ask her to do anything, by the way. We were like, ‘What is this lady doing? She’s desperate for convincing comfort in the water. She wants to be as expert as possible. It shows. She’s able to do things other actors can’t because she’s so focused on going above and beyond to make sure the character feels real.” Coogler said Nyong’o had “gut.” “With Lupita, what you see is what you get,” he said. “She’s smart, educated, and gifted. She’s confident and knows who she is. She’ll stop herself if she makes choices that aren’t true about herself.”
Courtesy of Annette Brown/Marvel Studios
When Wakanda Forever starts production in Atlanta in June 2019, CORONAVIRUS DISEASE- agreement meant the cast and crew weren’t together as casually as the first film, and news of the loss of Boseman hung over the set. “Art can be therapeutic, but the process of healing can be painful and sometimes tortuous,” Coogler said. “But it’s also calming and rewarding at times. That’s all those things. Sharing that with the equally grieving cast, who have given me so much grace — Lupita in particular.” Wright injured while filming stunt in Boston , resulting in production delays; filming delayed due to additional delays due to COVID long months. “At the end of the day, we just said it was Ryan’s fault because he called it Wakanda Forever, and it’s not going to end,” Nyong’o said. “It’s forever, forever, forever, forever.”
Nyong’o owes much of her career and sense of self-expression to Amondi Buyu, a cool aunt who was a Kenyan theatre actress. “I grew up in a very conservative environment, except for my parents, who were very open,” Nyong’o said she spent most of her childhood in Nairobi, Kenya. “My schooling was very conservative, but my aunt was wild. She had hairstyles that no one else had. She shaved her head. She gave me space to explore my femininity in my own way. At some point, I Shaved my head. She gave me the courage to be brave.” Nyong’o’s aunt would entertain the adults by entertaining the adults by entertaining the children with skits, and it was she who encouraged Nyong’o in her 008. Nyong’o didn’t get that role, but the following year she played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet . Today, Nyong’o plays a similar role for her sister’s 5-year-old daughter and many children in her extended family. “I’m the coolest aunt,” she said. “Aunt Cool doesn’t have to punish you,” Nyong’o said. “You can tell them things you never tell your parents and go to them in times of crisis.”
Nyong’o’s father is Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governor of Kisumu County, Kenya , her mother Dorothy is a public relations consultant for a Kenyan NGO. When Lupita was born, the family lived in Mexico City, where Peter was a visiting professor of political science, but they moved back to Kenya when she was a toddler. Peter was a Kenyan politician and public figure for most of Lupita’s childhood, which had a great influence on his daughter and would be very useful when she became famous. “When I was in school, people had opinions on the headlines about your dad in the news yesterday — they had firm opinions, and they were usually not very flattering. He shouldn’t have done that,” she said. “He was a public figure, so his The role goes beyond him. How people interact and interrogate him is beyond his control. Likewise, some things are beyond my control. My role is for public consumption. “
A major part of Nyong’o’s character is her beauty and the barriers she breaks as a dark-skinned black woman. By now, Nyong’o’s image has become so ingrained that it is Beyoncé Lyrics in the song Brown Skin Girl – “She needs an Oscar because her skin is dark/Lupita when the camera is close. ” but in 2014 , when she became the first black actress to win a Lancôme contract and was named most beautiful by People magazine, the experience of incarnating a black beauty was sometimes bewildering. It’s the subject of a larger conversation, a sociopolitical conversation,” Nyong’o said. “I appreciate this broader conversation, and I absolutely don’t want it to happen. But I want to be involved in doing my practice, not my theory. “When Nyong’o plays Maz Kanata, it’s a full CGI character 2018’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens , some fans thought the role was a waste of such a beautiful actress. But Nyong’o said, the performance ” Disconnect me from my body in the way I need it at the time. I need to take a break from my body, from what people are saying about my body. “
The actress is in as Patsy of has been a slave for many years , The role earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight/Everett collect
Part of the way she asserts some power in conversation over what her appearance represents is by writing a children’s book in , Sulwe, about a girl with a “midnight complexion” more than anyone in her family. The book became New York Times bestseller and winner of the NAACP Image Award. Nyong’o said: “As a black man, the politics of being black can easily overshadow art,” said Nyong’o. This is a fight for the right to artistic expression. “But at the same time, respect the need for wider dialogue, the need for political campaigns.” I think as the daughter of a politician, I understand that. I was never alone. I’ve always had to cross that line of being the daughter of a public figure. “
Nyong’ o Wrote a children’s book at , Sulwe, About the girl with the “midnight complexion”. The book became The New York Times Bestseller and won an NAACP Image Award. Raymond Hall/ GC Images/Getty Images
Nyong’o attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, as an undergraduate, studying film and African studies. She said she Lost and afraid to admit that I wanted to be an actor. “As a Kenyan from Nairobi, I come from such a far place,” she said. “I was completely out of the realm of possibility when I grew up. I’ve gotten to a point where I just know it’s uncomfortable. But when she got to Yale, “I decided to bet myself,” Nyong’o said. Even though the drama school classes highlighted the difficulties she would face as an actress, she started trying different things. “A very good guy at the time Friends encouraged me to accept success just as they prepared us to accept failure,” Nyong’o said. “Meditate on saying yes and accepting what might happen. “
” Once she had the script, I knew she was perfect for the challenge,” Jordan Peele said of Nyong’o in Us. (Starring in Shot by Christian Cody; Issey Miyake top and skirt, Atsuko Kudo hat, Schiaparelli earrings, Prada shoes
After the Oscars, she broke expectations again, thanks in part to some advice she got from Emma Thompson. “I was told a lot, not only by my team, but also by me The other actors you’ll meet, ‘You have to strike now,'” Nyong’o said of the pressure to capitalize on her sudden success. Talking about acting promotions for months Years a slave , Nyong’o she’s not even sure she remembers how to do it. Filmed in London Star Wars , she called Thompson, she met him at the awards show. “She invited me over, I went to dinner with her, and she totally opened up about it all.” Mystery,” Nyong’o said. “She did save my life. I won this huge award and my impostor syndrome is at an all-time high. I’m intimidated by the new platform this seems to have. I mean, I did a movie. I don’t even know what a ‘martini’ is for crying out loud. Many in Nyong’o’s circle were urging her to do more film work and discouraging her from doing drama. Thompson disagreed. “She told me she quit acting at some point for more than eight years, and every Everyone told her that she could never go back to show business, and she did,” Nyong’o said. “She encouraged me to do what I thought was best for my instrument. Because of that conversation, Nyong’o had a role in the Broadway play Eclipsed . “The first time I had my teeth cut was in the theater, and I wanted to use that as a Foundation, because I knew how to do it, and it really, really helped me,” she said. “It helped me get back into acting because I was so disappointed in it. The awards circle is too far from work. Being a celebrity is totally different from being an actor. I needed to go back to what brought me here in the first place, and the theater did it for me. ”
“I won this huge award and my impostor syndrome didn’t have it at all – time tops,” Nyong’o said on her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and said Year Slave. Jason Merritt/Getty Images
As a second-generation public figure, Nyong’o has learned to keep his personal life private , often takes her family to red carpet events as her date. Almost every time she’s pictured with an attractive single, fans speculate that she’s dating them, including Jared Leto , Michael B. Jordan and Janelle Monae. Leto sparked rumors when he accepted the award, he thanked “my future ex-wife Lupita”. “Why should I keep it a secret? Because I want some things to be just mine, I want my work to be louder than my love, and that’s it,” Nyong’o said. “Honestly, I hate the idea of having to put up with my ex publicly. I don’t need their faces.
She also knows when she’s going to be part of a media moment, whether she wants to or not. At this year’s Oscars, when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock , Nyong’o sat behind Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, reacting, like many in the audience watching at home, with nervous laughter, then confusion and openness— Mouth shocked. In the days following the telecast, images of her emotional journey were everywhere on social media. One user tweeted: “LUPITA is all of us. “After the moment was over, I realized, ‘Oh my God, this can’t happen, I’m not on camera,'” Nyong’o said with a laugh. “I knew as soon as it was over that I was going to be a meme.” About what it was like to be there that night, she’d let the memes do the talking for her. “I don’t want to add oil to it, frankly,” she said. “
For Nyong’o, growing up as an actress for the past decade means learning how and when to push yourself and when to back down.” I can’t do it halfway,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. Because I know how much it will cost me to get in, it means I’ll probably have less work to do because of that. I work on purpose, so I’m constantly asking myself what I’m mentally prepared to do. What is the mental cost and what is the emotional and physical cost. Then, I’ll make a plan for that.
Jordan Peele’s horror movie Us in which she plays Jekyll and Hyde – both Mother, Adelaide, is her murderous double again, red – is the new subject area. “She was already a movie star by the time we made Us , judging from her existing work, I was impressed with her ability to make an emotional connection with the audience, often just using her face,” Peel said. “So I knew she was capable of Adelaide. character, but I’d love to see how she’ll deal with the cold, isolated side, the red character. What happens when this face that elicits so much empathy is used to scare people? “Nyong’o worked with a vocal coach to create Red’s deep, scary voice in a way that wouldn’t hurt her vocal cords, and she was featured in the first Black Panther on the film after performing an intense scene without first warming up her voice. She dives into the script, digging into its meaning. “Once she had the script, I knew she was perfect for the challenge, “She has the ability not only to create two completely different characters, but the ability and depth to understand how they are connected and how they are the same character at the same time.” Although she was not nominated, many critics considered it a layered performance worthy of an Oscar.
Jordan Peele picks Nyong’o as mother in his horror thriller We . Claudette Te Barius/Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection
Nyong’o in The Woman King Played as one of the Agoji warriors, the new film tells a story that inspired Black Panther’s fictional Dora Milaje, including their kingdom’s involvement in the slave trade. Shortly after The Queen , Nyong’o made a short film about Agoji, Warrior Women With Lupita Nyong’o, in which she restlessly grapples with the tribe’s legacy of violence. After making the documentary, Nyong’o is no longer associated with The Woman King, but she refuses to elaborate on her exit The specifics of the project. “It was very nice to leave it,” Nyong’o said of her relationship with that film. “But I don’t feel like that’s the role I’m going to play. “
Most of Nyong’o’s work has appeared in big studio films such as Star Wars and Black Leopard.In2014, she did a little Australian horror comedy Little Monster , she was in Which plays a cheerful zombie-fighting kindergarten teacher. “I’m very eager for small projects,” Nyong’o said. “It’s harder for them to get off the ground and harder to stay on track. Bigger movies are pushing them to the side. The pandemic and the financial pressures on the industry have made it harder to make those movies.”
She paused when asked about whether Marvel movies are eating up the movie industry debate. “It becomes a philosophical question about what art is and what is its purpose,” she said. “I believe art plays a role in moving people who experience it, and many people are moved by Marvel. Are you less moved by this than I am by Picasso?
“I think, To prosper culturally, to prosper in art as a people, is to have choices,” she added. She recalls moving from Kenya to the U.S. and going to the grocery store for the first time. “In Kenya, sugar is sugar. , it’s brown or white,” she said. “You come to America and the entire section of the supermarket is dedicated to sugar. So many different sugars. When you have a choice, that’s a sign of prosperity. So I personally love a good Marvel movie, but that doesn’t take me away from really wanting this little character-oriented movie. I believe in fighting to keep these things because the one thing we always want, the ultimate privilege, is choice. “
This story first appeared in October. 19 The Hollywood Reporter Magazine’s Question.4052143Click here to subscribe.