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Lupita Nyong’o bags major Hollywood prize

By GEORGE ORIDO | Oct 24th 2013 | 2 min read
By GEORGE ORIDO | October 24th 2013


On Tuesday night, Kenyan silver screen superstar Lupita Nyong’o put Kenya on the world map by receiveing a major Hollywood prize for her sterling role in the Steve McQueen-directed 12 Years a Slave.

The star bagged the New Hollywood Award during the 17th edition of Hollywood Film Awards  at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, California.

And soaked in tears of joy, Lupita, a Yale School of Drama graduate, thanked her family for their support in her acceptance speech. 

“I cannot express how grateful I am, Mum, for the encouragement and belief you have had in me,” she said amid sobs. Her mother, Dorothy Nyong’o, was among the guests in the auditorium.

British director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, which debuted in selected theatres in the US, UK and Canada at the weekend chronicles slavery in the US in the 17th century.

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is one in which Epps, the slave master in New York in 1841, asks Solomon (the main actor) to whip Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), but takes over midway because he doesn’t like Solomon’s effort.

Lupita’s role in the cortically acclaimed film was most unlikely.

“My manager Didi Rea received the script for another client of hers, Garrett Dillahunt, who plays Armsby in the movie. But she read the role of Patsey and thought I’d be good for it,” shares Lupita.


It was just at the time when Yale was allowing its finalist students to audition for professional gigs, and so 12 Years a Slave was actually the first audition that Lupita went on tape for in New York.

“It just so happened that the next week I was going to LA for a showcase, so then Francine Maisler, the casting director, invited me in to her office to audition. It was a one-hour, very grueling audition,” she recalls.

She was invited to two more auditiond and the rest is history.

In the film, Lupita got a rare opportunity to act alongside A-list actors such as Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sarah Paulson among others.

“On my first day of rehearsals Michael came and told me he was my peer… Today standing here I believe those words,” Lupita, who is the daughter of former Medical Services Minister Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, said amidst defeaning applause and a standing ovation.

Lupita has also been nominated for an Oscar.

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