What an amazing year 2014 has been for 12 Years a Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o! From starring alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brand Pitt to clinching an Oscar for her role in the Steve McQueen film to her Lancome and Miu Miu campaigns and being named The Most Beautiful Person by The People, it has no doubt been a stellar year for the Kenyan actress and now she tops it off with another covetable title and a magazine cover to go with: Lupita covers the December 2014 issue of Glamour as she is named Woman of the Year.
Inside the magazine, Lupita not only shares her childhood memories of growing up playing pranks on her siblings but she also talks about how it feels being one of the seven black women to have won an Academy Award, looking up to Oprah Winfrey as a role model growing up and being able to find beauty from within.
Here are snippets from Lupita’s interview:
On how life has changed
This is actually a conversation I look forward to having in 10 years, when all of this is behind me and I have some real perspective on what happened—because right now I’m still adjusting. I guess I feel catapulted into a different place; I have a little whiplash…. I did have a dream to be an actress, but I didn’t think about being famous. And I haven’t yet figured out how to be a celebrity; that’s something I’m learning, and I wish there were a course on how to handle it. I have to be aware that my kinesphere may be larger than I want it to be.
On winning an Academy Award
I don’t think I will ever be able to really articulate how bizarre it was to hear my name at the Academy Awards. I’d watched in my pajamas the year before! I felt numb—dazed and confused. I remember feeling light—weightless. More like limbo than cloud nine. At first I was like, This is my statue; nobody gets to touch it. And by midnight I was like, Please, someone, take this statue; it’s too heavy! So I gave it to my brother, and he went off with it.
On growing up and beauty
European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world—the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love. Africa is no exception. When I was in the second grade, one of my teachers said, “Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?” I was mortified. I remember seeing a commercial where a woman goes for an interview and doesn’t get the job. Then she puts a cream on her face to lighten her skin, and she gets the job! This is the message: that dark skin is unacceptable. I definitely wasn’t hearing this from my immediate family—my mother never said anything to that effect—but the voices from the television are usually much louder than the voices of your parents.
Check out more of Lupita’s interview with Glamour: