Lupita Nyong’o Continues To Break Barriers

For months, rumors had been spreading about the Hollywood actress, Lupita Nyong’o’s appearance on the October 2015 Vogue cover. If you are wondering why this is important, Nyong’o will be the 2nd black woman on a consecutive cover following Beyonce’s celebrated September 2015 issue. What an accomplishment for a Kenyan best supporting actress, who won the award for her breakout role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Her rising power has made her popular in Kenya, Africa and around the world.

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The daughter of a college professor turned politician, the Mexican born actress has managed to excel from her breakout performance transcending the way Hollywood views beauty and black actresses. In addition to acting, Nyong’o is also becoming a fast growing fashion icon, and is the darling of many fashions houses such as Calvin Klein and Dior.

Seeing her beautiful smile and poise as she stood solo on the red carpet is what attracted me to Nyong’o. I immediately became intrigued and wanted to find out more about her personal story and how she made it to Hollywood.

Nyong’o, born in Mexico City to parents who were political refugees, learned early on to deal with her father’s notoriety.  “I grew up in the limelight and being the child of someone famous, so my relationship with fame is not bedazzled.” said Nyong’o in an interview with People magazine. Growing up in Kenya, she knew very early on that she wanted to be an actress. Inspired by watching The Color Purple,  becoming an actress became the object of her desire.  Living in Nairobi, Kenya acting as a profession was not viewed as a real career path. “Growing up no one around me acted for a living. We only had one TV station.” said Nyong’o.

Following her desire to act, she enrolled into the prestigious Yale School of Drama. Shortly before graduation, she received the role of “Patsy” which became the role that led to her Oscar win, and made her the 1st African to win an Oscar. If you are wondering why this is a big deal, just ask J.J. Abrams, director of the Star Wars movie The Force Awakens When I saw Nyong’o’s performance in 12 Years a Slave it blew my mind and I knew I had to work with her”, he told People magazine.

Donyale Luna, Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, and now Lupita Nyong’o have all graced the cover of one of the world’s most read fashion magazines and this is an important trend to note. In 2014, 14% of major fashion magazine covers featured women of color. In September 2015, many magazines featured a variety of black women for their feature covers such as Serena Williams, Beyonce, Ciara, Misty Copeland, and Kerry Washington. The September issue is widely known as the industry’s most significant month. Nyong’o  following Beyonce’s Vogue cover is a reminder that black women are being recognized slowly but surely as a true symbol of beauty. Thankfully, Nyong’o  has also graced the covers of other magazines such as W, Glamour, DuJour, New York, Lucky, Dazed, and was chosen as People’s cover annual “50 Beautiful” 2014 issue.  The celebration of her 2nd Vogue’s magazine cover is a big achievement for mainstream America. It gives us the opportunity to celebrate all cultures and respective backgrounds. We now have reason to celebrate a gorgeous African woman who has made history and continues to carve out her own path in Hollywood for years to come.

Image: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott/Vogue

Shavonda Miles is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA, who enjoys partnering with media outlets to provide quality content. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.