This week’s post is dedicated to the incomparable Lupita Nyong’o, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for 2014. She has taken the world by storm with her style, beauty and class (we love how many hairstyles she can rock with short hair!). But besides her exterior, her win for the portrayal of the slave “Patsey” has meant so much for so many women around the world especially Africa. There have only been six black women to have won Oscars (one for best actress and five for Best Supporting Actress) and only two African women, Lupita being the second after Charlize Theron.
There has been a lot of talk about her “unconventional beauty”. Lupita is not what we are used to seeing on the silver screen or on music videos. She is dark sinned with short natural hair, the complete opposite to the Beyonce’s of the world that many have come to idolise. The internet has been abuzz with different opinions on her look and there appears to be three different views. On one end many praise her for breaking the mould of what a successful black female looks like while others, albeit few, are indifferent towards how she looks and are more concerned with her acting skills. The third opinion is that all the praise for her style, tone of skin and hair texture has actually become a fetish, with one blog calling it the “Fetishisation of Lupita Nyong’o”. The reality is that no matter how much we preach that what counts is on the inside, how a person looks plays a big role in how that person is perceived to the outside world, especially women in show business. But let’s take all of her in, then make a call.
She is gorgeous, that we’re sure most people can agree on. What her beauty means is that for the vast majority of young African women who do not have access to Brazilian weaves, who are dark skinned and who may or may not prefer the kink in their hair, they can look at Lupita and know that on a “superficial” level they are the same. And that means something.
She is talented, again those of you have watched 12 Years a Slave will agree. Yes she comes from a middle class background that afforded her opportunities far beyond the reach of most African women but let’s not take away from her raw talent. It is an incredible achievement to receive arguably the highest honour in acting no matter your background.
She is an African woman with a Spanish first name living in America. Wow! She was once a young East African girl living and growing in Kenya and dreaming the dream of many young African girls, success and fame. There she is on the world stage proving that Africans are talented, powerful and phenomenal. Although as a continent we have come a long way in terms of recognition we are still seen as inferior. So let’s celebrate our ambassadors who have shown the world that we too deserve accolades and let us become ambassadors ourselves because, as Lupita so eloquently put it in her acceptance speech, “your dreams are valid”.