At last night’s Oscars, Hollywood’s breakout star Lupita Nyong’o capped off her winning awards season with a Best Supporting Actress statuette for her performance in 12 Years a Slave. But while Lupita may carry herself with the most grace of any celebrity on the red carpet, she hasn’t always been as admirably secure.
At Saturday’s Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, the 31-year-old actress shared a story in which she described how she often desired for her skin to be lighter—until one supermodel, Alek Wek, helped her gain acceptance.
"A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was," said Lupita. "Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me. When I saw Alek, I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty."
Truth be told, Lupita’s stunning skin tone is one of our favorite qualities about her, physically speaking. Just think: if it wasn’t for her beautiful color, would she have been able to so dramatically pull off every shade of the rainbow this past awards season? Definitely not.