Lupita Nyong’o, born on March 1, 1983, in Mexico City, is an Academy Award-winning actress best known for her appearances in critically acclaimed and commercially successful films such as 12 Years a Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Black Panther, and Us.
Born in Mexico City to Kenyan parents, Nyong’o and her family returned to Kenya while she was still an infant.
When she was 14-years-old, Nyong’o made her acting debut in a stage version of Romeo & Juliet in Nairobi as a member of the Phoenix Players. While acting with the Phoenix Players, Nyong’o also appeared in adaptations of The Razzle and There Goes The Bride.
After high school, Nyong’o attended Hampshire College in Massachusettes and later graduated with a degree in film and theatre studies.
Following her college graduation, Nyong’o began her career working on film crews for movies such as The Constant Gardener, The Namesake, and Where God Left His Shoes.
Nyong’o cites her time on the set of The Constant Gardener as a major moment in her life, as she was inspired by award-winning actor Ralph Fiennes to pursue an acting career.
“He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I very timidly admitted that I was interested in being an actor. He sighed and said, ‘If there’s something else that you want to do, do that. Only act if you feel you can’t live without it.’ It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was the thing I needed to hear,” Nyong’o told The Cut in a 2014 interview.
Nyong’o then went on to enroll in a master’s degree program in acting at the Yale School of Drama, landing her breakout role in 12 Years a Slave while still attending the university.
The rest, as they say, is history.
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