Throwback Thursday: Lupita Nyong’o Was Awesome Before Everyone Knew It

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Odds are the incredibly talented and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o only recently made it to your radar. She may be the Hollywood It Girl right now, but we’ve got proof that she’s been doing amazing things since way back!

Lupita was born in Mexico but grew up in Kenya. Her dad was working as a professor at the University of Nairobi, the country’s largest college.

When she was a little girl she saw the movie “The Color Purple,” which is about the lives of African-American women. It made a strong impression on her. “It was first time I’d seen someone like me on screen,” she said. “Whoopi Goldberg [an actress in “The Color Purple”] had my kind of hair and was dark like me. I thought, maybe I could do this for a living.”

An Alternative Look At The 86th Annual Academy Awards

Photo: Lupita At The Academy Awards (Getty)
Those around her didn’t consider acting to be a real career, and she went to the United States to study filmmaking instead. She made her own documentary (as writer, director and producer) called “In My Genes” about the kind of prejudice albino people face in Kenya. Skin color was something Lupita seemed to think about a lot, and she has revealed that she used to believe her skin color kept her from being beautiful. As if!

+ Watch the trailer for “In My Genes.”

Lupita also has a history with MTV, as she starred in MTV Kenya’s “Shuga,” a series about young Kenyans exploring adulthood. The series was in partnership with MTV’s Staying Alive campaign, which is committed the HIV prevention and education.

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Photo: Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Shuga’ (MTV Staying Alive)

When Lupita was about to graduate from Yale University’s drama school, she was offered a role in “12 Years a Slave.” She threw herself into research and learned details on the horrors of slavery. This increased her knowledge and passion for the project, and she gave it her all. And now the actress, documentarian and self-acceptance speaker is an Academy Award-winner and a household name.

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