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Since scoring gold at this year’s Academy Awards, Lupita Nyong’o has created what you could call “the Lupita Effect.” From becoming one of Hollywood’s best dressed (thanks in part to power stylist Micaela Erlanger) to her Oscars lip balm selling out, the 12 Years a Slave actress has been a major influence in Tinseltown and beyond.
Nyong’o, who covers Glamour‘s December issue, told the glossy that she’s humbled by her experience, thus far. “I’ve heard people talk about images in popular culture changing, and that makes me feel great, because it means that the little girl I was, once upon a time, has an image to instill in her that she is beautiful, that she is worthy — that she can,” she shared with Glamour. “Until I saw people who looked like me, doing the things I wanted to, I wasn’t so sure it was a possibility. Seeing Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah in The Color Purple, it dawned on me: ‘Oh — I could be an actress!’ We plant the seed of possibility.”
And the opportunities have indeed landed her a Lancome campaign, a Vogue cover and a role on the upcoming Star Wars film. While Nyong’o was also named People magazine‘s “Most Beautiful,” she didn’t necessarily always feel her beauty was up to par with society’s so-called standards. “European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world — the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love. Africa is no exception. When I was in the second grade, one of my teachers said, ‘Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?’ I was mortified,” explained the 31-year-old star.
Thankfully, her mother reminded her of what being beautiful meant growing up. “She was focused on compassion and respect, and those are the things that ended up translating to me as beauty,” said Nyong’o. Spoken like a true beauty, indeed.
Read more on Nyong’o’s interview at Glamour.com or grab a copy of Glamour’s December issue when it hits newsstands on Nov. 11.
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