11 things you might not have known about Lupita Nyong'o

Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesLupita Nyong’o is the star of the new film ‘Us.’
  • Lupita Nyong’o has been in many movies over the past few years and, most recently, she starred in the thriller “Us.”
  • She won an Oscar for her first big-screen role in 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.”
  • In 2009, she directed and produced her own documentary.

Ever since Lupita Nyong’o won an Oscar for her role in 2013’s “12 Years a Slave,” she’s been one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood. Over the past few years, Nyong’o has scored major endorsement deals and leading roles in both big-budget blockbusters and indie films alike.

Here are some things you probably didn’t know about the “Us” star.

She was born in Mexico but grew up in Kenya

“I was born in Mexico because my father was teaching at a school in Mexico City. I was born during the third year he was there,” she told CNN en Español in 2014.

At a 2013 press conference for “12 Years a Slave,” she explained that she lived in Mexico for less than a year so she cites Kenya, where her parents are from, as the place where she grew up.

But, the “Black Panther” actress has also said she has a special place in her heart for Mexico and that she identifies as a “Mexi-Kenyan.”

Nyong’o said that when she was a teenager she spent some time learning Spanish in Mexico

At the same press conference, she said that when she was 16 years old her parents sent her back to Mexico so she could learn Spanish. Nyong’o said after spending some time in Mexico, she came to the US to attend college.

She won an Oscar for her first big-screen role

12 years a slaveFox Searchlight Pictures’12 Years a Slave’ was released in 2013.

Nyong’o gained international acclaim when she took home an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in “12 Years a Slave” in 2014. This was her first big movie role – prior to this she’d only acted in short films and a TV series, as per her IMDb page.

She can speak a few different languages

“I think I speak enough Spanish to watch – or do – a movie and hold a conversation,” she told the Daily Beast in 2014. “I also speak Swahili and Luo, which is my mother tongue.”

She got her first movie role while studying to get her master’s degree

Lupita nyongoMichael Buckner/Getty ImagesShe studied film and theatre in college.

In 2017, she told Grazia Daily that she studied film and theatre at Hampshire College in Massachusetts before enrolling to get her master’s degree at the Yale School of Drama.

Nyong’o had not yet finished her master’s degree when she was offered the role of Patsey in “12 Years a Slave.”

She worked as a production assistant when she was in college

In a 2019 interview with “Today,” the actress said she worked as a production assistant on the set of 2005’s “The Constant Gardner” while she was in college. She said her job included getting coffee and looking after the lead actors.

Nyong’o made her directorial debut in 2009

In 2009, the “Non-Stop” star wrote, produced, edited, and directed her own documentary called “In My Genes.” The documentary is described as looking at what it’s “like to be ‘white’ in a ‘black’ society.”

In 2009, she starred in an MTV show that tackled topics like dating, sex, and love in Africa

Shuga MTVMTV‘Shuga’ aired in 2009.

Her first big acting break was when she starred in the MTV series “Shuga.” She plays Ayira, a woman navigating relationships, dating, and sex in Africa.

The show is known for portraying the sexual relationships of young people in Kenya while showing some of the realities of HIV. “Shuga” was part of an initiative from MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, a charity that gives grants to help prevent HIV and produces content that is meant to help stop the spread of HIV.

She’s had a number of major endorsement deals over the past few years

In 2014, Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme, a prestigious beauty and skin-care brand.

She has also worked with Tiffany & Co. in 2016 and Calvin Klein in 2018.

Nyong’o penned a forthcoming children’s book about learning to love her ‘midnight skin’

In 2019, the actress told Marie Claire that she wrote a children’s book,“Sulwe,” about a girl who learns to love her “midnight skin.” The book is expected to be released later this year.

“In no way do I imagine that a child will read this and never have a problem with the world discriminating against their skin or themselves discriminating against the skin,” she told the publication. “But at least you have a foundation. You have something that reminds you that you are enough. For me, I have my parents who do that.”


Read More:
20 celebrities you didn’t know wrote children’s books

If she wasn’t an actress, she said she’d be working in massage therapy

Though she’s been acting since she was a child, she told Vogue in 2015 that she’d be a massage therapist if she wasn’t an actress.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.