Lupita Nyong’o praised by Kenyan president: ‘You are the pride of Africa!’


Do you know how popular Lupita Nyong’o is right now? SO POPULAR. She’s so popular, Mexico and Kenya are fighting over who gets to claim her as their own (Lupita says she’s both, by the way). Her alma mater, Yale School of Drama, will probably get in the mix too, as will Brooklyn, which is where she lives now. Everyone wants to be able to say, “Lupita is ours!” And she’s so popular, everyone is falling all over themselves to lavish her with love and praise. And she wears it all so lightly, it’s pretty amazing. Yesterday, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta made a statement about Lupita, tweeting to Lupita: “You are the pride of Africa!” He also promised to set up a Kenyan film school and “a network of creative academies in the country” to encourage more Kenyans to enter the film industry and to build Kenya’s homegrown film industry.

Wanjira Maathai, the daughter of the late Kenyan Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, spoke about Lupita too, saying: “We all had hoped of course that she would win. Everybody feels a sudden attachment to her, she’s a Kenyan woman. A lot of her work, a lot of her experience in film started in Kenya. She attributes to her success to a lot of other black actresses who made her believe she could be something and that she could make it in film. And I think it’s so important to have role models, so important to have people who you can say, ‘Ah, if she made it, maybe I can too.’”

It’s just that inspiration that led one little girl to write to Lupita to discuss skin color and skin-bleaching and not just being a successful black woman in Hollywood, but a successful dark-skinned black woman in Hollywood. As we discussed last week, when Lupita picked up an award at the Essence luncheon, she delivered a speech on skin color and inspirations. Now we have the video… and it is amazing. Enjoy:

And here’s Lupita on yesterday’s live Ellen show:



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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71 Responses to “Lupita Nyong’o praised by Kenyan president: ‘You are the pride of Africa!’”

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  1. paola says:

    I am as white as milk with green eyes and natural super blonde hair. Today i just wish i was black, with a gorgeous smile and big brown eyes, to feel as gorgeous as she is just for one single moment.
    Women like her are one of a kind. Humble and intelligent. I wish her the most prolific future especially in inspiring people.

  2. Hannah says:

    She is the first Kenyan to win an oscar. And the first African I believe. I think the whole continent of Africa is claiming her too :) She happened to be born in Mexico because that’s where her family was stationed at the time. But both her parents are Kenyan and that’s where she grew up. She is from a wealthy Kenyan family hence why she could even afford to go to to college somewhere like Yale. She is such a likeable person, really loved her on Ellen. She is a wonderful asset to Hollywood hope they give her lots of work.

  3. Kiki says:

    The majority of people in Mexico do not agree she is ours. It is the media who’s pushing this.

  4. idk says:

    Her story is pretty fascinating. This girl can speak four different languages and comes from a family full of successful people. I can see why Mexico wants to claim her as she was born there and returned there at age 16 to study Spanish. Her first degree in acting was from Hampshire College, not sure if she mentioned this in her acceptance speech…I know she mentioned Yale. Just all around, very impressive story. Also, I had no idea she was 31. I thought she was 22 as she just graduated from Yale. I heard her first film was back in 2008. People think she just came out of nowhere, but seems she’s been at if for a minute.

    • LAK says:

      To be fair on the language front, most Africans speak several languages because they speak their tribal languages and the national language and the colonial language if it’s different from the national language.

      If they are Muslim, i’d throw in Arabic too as they read the Koran in the original language.

      If parents are from different tribes, that doubles up the base languages they speak, and when you go to school, you pick up school friends’ tribal languages too.

      On that basis alone, i’d expect Lupita to speak her own tribal language(s), Swahili AND English, without having set foot in any other country.

      • idk says:

        @ LAK

        Thanks for educating me. That’s pretty amazing !

      • V4Real says:

        Yep LAK that is pretty amazing. I never looked at it that way. A former friend of mine father is Black Morrocan and her mother was French. She spoke Arabic, French as well as English. I just looked at her as a woman who was fluent in several languages, not counting on because of her background and where she was born and raised probably influneced that.

      • Yeller says:

        She did an interview with a Kenyan station at the height of her campaign (which was really cool). Her Swahili is good. Her Luo is abit accented but she said it was her first language.

        Whats kind of funny is that she was in a Kenyan racy mini-series about 3 years ago called Shuga where she has a semi nude shower scene. It was quite the scandal. I mean the Minister for Healths’ daughter in a shower, oh my! The same whiners now cant get enough of her. Oh and now its no big deal that she has a nude, if v brutal scene, in 12 years a slave. My take home lesson is to ignore the haters, they defect and become Stans the instant you make it.

      • ya says:

        hahaha @Yeller – I remember that scandal! Ya you can’t please everyone and there is definitely a fine line between haters and stans!

    • Kim1 says:

      TYAS is the first feature film she has acted in.She did a MTV produced tv show.She has worked behind the camera.TYAS is her feature film debut.

    • Trillion says:

      I had no idea of her age. She looks so much younger than 31! I am LIVING for her musical laughter. She is one in a million and an amazing role model for human beings, especially young women. Brava Lupita!

  5. Liberty says:

    She is spectacular, inspiring. Her speeches (the Essence speech and the Oscars speech) were so thoughtful and graceful. Every so often, life hands the world a treasure.

  6. lower-case deb says:

    i wonder if now they’re going to show the documentary film she directed a while back, the one about albinism in Africa, “My Genes”?

    will be interesting to see!

    we need more women directors, Lupita!
    (is hoping her get a director oscar to go with her actor oscar, hubris?)

  7. jess says:

    I really dont get why people are so obsessed with this girl. She is overexposed and has already peaked just after one movie. It will be interesting to see where she will be a year from now.

    • Dani2 says:

      “Overexposed” to you maybe. And that word needs to catch a break on this site, gets thrown around way too much.

    • idk says:

      People were acting the same exact way about Jennifer Lawrence last year, and she’s still around and doing great. I think people are tired of the “same old same old” and Jennifer and Lupita brought some fresh air into the mix. Talent, beauty, brains. They are different than the rest or “typical Hollywood”. This is ofcourse, MY opinion and you have the right to yours.

    • vic says:

      Because she is a breath of fresh air in a jaded and often harsh industry. She is kind and speaks of her heritage in a way we can all appreciate. And her statement about realizing she was experiencing joy from portraying someone’s pain was amazing.

    • Hypocrisy says:

      In a country obsessed with Kim Kardashian…and this going on for years, i wouldn’t mind being obsessesd with Lupita.

      She is the anti Kardashian by execellence, : humble, eloquent, gracious and i could go on and on.

      I think this type of rare gem is refreshing to people of America obsessesd with plastic surgeries, dumb actresses and reality TV bimbos who are neither articulate neither own the only language they speak (english) like this foreigner lady does…

  8. littlestar says:

    I just looked at her IMDB profile and she has no upcoming films (besides Non-Stop which I believe is coming out in theaters shortly). I am actually a little surprised by that. With how popular she is right now, I figured she’d definitely have some upcoming projects.

  9. Megan says:

    It is hard to imagine she could ever not look in the mirror and realize how truly gorgeous she is. But I loved her speech and what she said about inner beauty it was lovely. She was hilarious on Ellen too.

    I honestly can’t wait to see what she does next, because not only is she beyond talented, she is gorgeous and has fantastic comedic timing. I think her future is limitless.

  10. starrywonder says:

    LOL everyone is trying to claim that girl. Get it girl!

  11. WendyNerd says:

    SHE IS A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD, DAHLING. Well, she kind of is. She’s lived pretty much everywhere.

    I’m a Ashkenazi-white-Native-American girl, and I feel proud of her. I think everyone should just feel proud of her regardless of nationality, race, or whatever. I just feel proud of her and see her as positive role model for all girls and all boys and pretty much everyone. I know the fact that she’s dark-skinned has significance since there is definitely a stigma about being dark, but still (BTW, seriously, what is up with that? I only found out about this my senior year of High School because all of my friends who were black were mixed or light-skinned so I had no clue until I met my current BFF, who is dark skinned. And then I realized that pretty much all the black celeb women I knew of— Halle Berry, Beyonce, Zoe Saldana, were mixed or light. That shit totally blew my mind. Can someone explain it to me? Because my BFF is kind of vague about it and I don’t want to interrogate her further about a topic she’s obviously not comfortable discussing. If someone is comfortable explaining it, I’d be grateful.). But I look up to Lupita for being ultra-educated, multi-lingual, super-talented, and classy as all Hell. I do appreciate the significance she has for dar-skinned girls, but for me that’s incidental for obvious reasons. Still, it’s awesome she gives people with dark skin confidence. No one should feel that way. I remember reading Malala Yousafzai’s book and being so disappointed when she talked about using skin-lightening creams. It’s just insane to me. Women of color are trying to lighten their skin while white women are giving themselves skin cancer in the tanning booths trying to get browner.

    What shocked me is that she’s in her thirties! I thought she was, like, twenty-five at most. She looks so, so young, doesn’t she? Not that thirty-one is old, just that she’s got this ultra-girlish face. Like, she looks my age, and I’m not yet twenty-three.

    I am excited to hear that a new film school will be opened and that there will be a boost to the African film industry, because I’ve been waiting desperately for a Nzinga of Matamba biopic for like, years. Ever since I read about her in sixth grade. So, basically, half of my life. I WANT TO SEE AN ANGOLAN PRINCESS SIT ON HER SERVANT’S BACK AND YELL AT A PORTUGUESE ASSHOLE UNTIL HE AGREES TO STOP ENSLAVING HER PEOPLE. THAT’S AN EVENT THAT WAS MADE TO BE PUT ON FILM. WHY HAS THIS NOT HAPPENED YET? OH, RIGHT, BECAUSE ONLY NOW HAVE WE ALLOWED A NATIVE AFRICAN TO WIN A MAJOR AWARD BECAUSE HOLLYWOOD IS STUPID. SO GET ON THIS, AFRICAN FILM INDUSTRY.

    • Lea says:

      Loved your comment!
      Well the fact that most of black celebrities are light skinned or mixed is due to the fact that their beauty is more conform to the European standard of beauty,which makes them more ‘marketable’ following racist Hollywood mentality.They think they’ll appease more the white male audience;it really is a stigma for Black actresses/entertainers.

      • assia says:

        ” their beauty is more conform to the European standard of beauty,which makes them more ‘marketable’ following racist Hollywood mentality” – I’m white girl and I do prefer European looking guys over African or Asian. Does that makes me racist? Idon’t think so. And I’m pretty sure other races find they’re own people more attractive. If that wasn’t the case most we would have light skinned blondes in movies from Bollywood or any other country.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Oh WendyNerd, we should meet for coffee. Or tea. Or Shabbos dinner (and the rest of Shabbos too). The answers you see are long (at least from me — couldn’t be succinct if my life depended on it).

    • LAK says:

      Wendynerd: i’ll tell you what i’ve been hearing for decades now…..An African film doesn’t sell.

      We could argue several reasons why, but it’s the same argument used to limit black faces in fashion.

      With African stories, I am magnanimous enough to say that it isn’t racism per se that has created this narrative. It’s the pure and simple fact that no one really knows Africa except us Africans.

      We are still the dark continent as far as the rest of the world is concerned except for the catastrophic events that have happened to us in recent times. So a script that focuses on aparteid and starving, strifing Africans will sell,BUT! Only if you bus in a known american face to front it. So despite the many African actors available, we still need Denzel Washington (CRY FREEDOM), Danny Glover and Idris Alba( various MANDELA biopics), Forest Whitaker (THE KING OF SCOTLAND), Jennifer Hudson and Terence Howard (WINNIE), Leo di Caprio (BLOOD DIAMOND), Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Wiesz (THE CONSTANT GARDNER) and many others to tell our own stories. And if you notice, they are all of a theme!!!

      Personally, i’d love a biopic of Shaka Zulu followed by a comedy and a romcom. We’ve already tried a sci-fi (DISTRICT 9) and didn’t we do well?

      • TaurusMiss says:

        @LAK i was just thinking a Shaka Zulu film would absolutely kick ass! There’s a phenomenal movie waiting to happen!

      • lower-case deb says:

        personally, i’d love to see more African films, and an expansion on biopics or historical (although that’s okay too!)
        Africa has a wealth of folktales, stories, legends, also amazing landscapes and people.

        i remember my first “Spiderman” is not Peter Parker but Anansi, the Spiderman demigod who went against the Sky God. Imagine how great and epic superhero flick that story would be.

        much like now that Bollywood, J-Horror (a la Ringu, the Grudge) and K-dramas (a la The Lake House) being “embraced” in Hollywood, i hope to see, soon, African movies to enter the fray too.

      • WendyNerd says:

        That’s not always true. Sometimes they have talking lions instead.

  12. laura says:

    She is gorgeous and smart. And I love the fact that she is “starting her career” in Hollywood at 31 years old. Years ago it would have been a challenge to be new and start at this age and be African/American in LA but things are changing and am so happy for that. Thank you dear Lupita:)

  13. Maria says:

    It’s so amazing that she’s embraced by so many people! Her grace,class ad beauty really have charmed everybody.

  14. phlyfiremama says:

    Something tells me she won’t have TOO much trouble finding film work in the future. (OK, sarcasm font OFF!) She has utterly charmed her way into my heart, not just from observing her around this awards season but in observing how OTHER people interact with and seem to love/admire/respect her. She seems to bring out the best in most people (at least those that have any “best” in them). I look forward to what he future has to offer from her~if this interview on ellen was any indication, it looks like it will be an entertaining time!!

  15. Michelle says:

    I’m one of the dark-skinned women who is really super f*cking happy that she “represents” me. I was so happy that she talked about what growing up with dark skin feels like, because it seems like an experience no-one cares about, and now people are talking about it. I, too, have accepted who I am, but it took a lot of effort.

    But let’s be honest, she’s perfect regardless of her skin. I cannot stop loving her to death. And I love the fact that everyone is fangirling as obsessively as me :)

  16. ya says:

    There have been quite a few great Kenyan films being made lately – Nairobi Halflife is only one example. I don’t know if it received any distribution outside of Kenya, but if people can find it, it’s worth seeing.

    Actually Nairobi has a great cultural/arts scene. Much of the arts in Kenya is funded through foreign donors, and Uhuru Kenyatta last year put in a motion to limit the amount of foreign donor funding a Kenyan NGO can receive – sadly, this could seriously impact the arts in Kenya.