Tqwana Explains…The Importance of Lupita Nyong’o

I haven’t quite worked myself up to seeing 12 Years A Slave yet. IĀ  have read the book, which is both phenomenal and traumatizing and even uplifting. The movie’s gotten critical praise since it’s debut during the film festival circuit. Many consider it the front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar during next weekend’s ceremony.

But, the biggest story to emerge from 12 Years A Slave isn’t all the accolades it’s receiving. That honor belongs to her:

Lupita Nyong’o at the 2014 Golden Globes

I am LOVING the press that Ms. Lupita Nyong’o is getting. And it’s not just for her acting, which I hear is well deserved. Nyong’o plays Patsey, a young slave woman who unfortunately is a “favorite” of her sadistic master, played by Michael Fassbender. Yes, she’s winning award after award for her performance and is the odds-on favorite to walk away with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

More than that, this beautiful woman is slaying the red carpet. There hasn’t been a look of hers that I have not liked.

However, my point goes deeper than that. It’s not about her dresses, jewelry, or makeup.

Just look at her. Dark-skinned, short natural hair. Not a weave, wig, or relaxer in sight. And yet, you can’t find very many people that have anything negative to say about her look. She defies what Hollywood has been shoving down our throats as the epitome of black beauty, which leans toward the lighter skinned ladies with flowing locks. Lupita will not be passing any brown paper bag tests. I can’t even articulate how much I love that!

Lupita Nyong’o at the 2014 SAG Awards

That’s not to say I have anything against the Beyonces and Halle Berrys of the world. I love that “black” comes in so many shades and colors. But, Lupita represents a possible turning point, so that darker girls with broader noses and shorter hair might be viewed as just as beautiful as the Alicia Keyses and Kerry Washingtons of the world, and more studios will hopefully take a chance on putting them in big name films.

It truly amazes me how much positive press Lupita is getting! She’s on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue, looking regal and statuesque; Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, and so many others. She’s been seen sitting front row during New York Fashion Week with the Anna Wintour.

Hopefully, some little girl will see Lupita and think that she too can be an award-nominated actress (or whatever her dream) and will no longer think she’s ugly or worthless simply because she’s dark-skinned with kinky hair.

The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.
–Marcus Garvey

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