Saturday, March 1, 2014
Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong'o on how she 'prayed for lighter skin' as a child before Hollywood success brought new confidence
Motivated: Lupita Nyong'o gave an inspirational speech at the Black Women in Hollywood event on Thursday about how conventional standards of beauty once affected her self-esteem
The 30-year old started her speech by reading a letter written to her by a young girl who viewed her as a role model.
'Dear Lupita,’ it reads. ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.'
'My heart bled a little when I read those words,' the actress said.
White hot! The star sported a snow white top featuring a mash up of letters and a skirt that ended mid-calf, both of which contrasted strikingly against her dark skin tone
Lupita Nyong'o talks about getting ready for the Oscars
The Mexico City-born actress told the audience how when she was younger she had struggled with conventional beauty standards and how she got 'teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin'
'The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before.'
The Yale graduate said that her 'self-hate grew worse' when she became a teenager. She could not be appeased by her mother’s assurances that she was beautiful.
Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, she spoke about what deeply affected her outlook was finding a role model in popular culture who looked similar - and that was supermodel Alek Wek.
Personal taste: 'I like to wear things, I don't like things to wear me. I don't like fuss!' Lupita has said about her fashion sensibilities
'A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was,' Nyong’o said.
'Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful.'
'My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t.'
Inspiration: Nyong'o spoke about what changed her outlook was finding a role model in popular culture who looked similar and that was supermodel Alek Wek
'When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny,' she said.
'Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty.'
After the event, the actress shared an Instagram photo of herself with her mother at the Essence luncheon, along with the caption, “Mother-Daughter #Selfie. I am because she is.”
gram photo of herself with her mother with the caption, 'Mother-Daughter #Selfie. I am because she is'
12 Years A Slave: Lupita Nyong'o - Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar nominated for Best Actor - share a tender moment in the moving drama