Lupita Nyong’o on the Beauty of Night-Shaded Skin

Later this evening, like millions of other people, I will be watching the 86th Academy Awards. Now to be honest, I’m pretty hit and miss on the Oscars because I don’t watch them every year. But this year, I want to see who wins Best Supporting Actress  and I’m rooting for newcomer, Lupita Nyong’o.

Actress Lupita Nyong'o, nominated for an Oscar for her role in the movie, 12 Years A Slave.
Actress Lupita Nyong’o, nominated for an Oscar for her role in the movie, 12 Years A Slave.

Frankly, whether she wins the Oscar or not, this young woman has already won big – not only in the many theaters where people have watching her amazing performance in 12 Years A Slave, but also on the screen of life. At only 30 years old, Lupita Nyong’o has captivated the world with her talent, her beauty and, maybe most importantly –

Her humanity.

There’s something special about a person who is at the top of her game and yet, focused on the wisdom she can bring to the many young Black women for whom she will be a critically important role model.

Like my almost 10-year-old niece, Maddie.

See like Lupita, Maddie is beautiful, talented and dark-skinned. She will be 10 years old this week and sadly, has already experienced the sting of racism because of the color of her skin. Despite the fact that we, as her family, continue to reinforce how special she is, it’s hard to explain away the hurt when other little girls say things like –

We’re going to make a club and not let any brown girls in.

Recently I’ve been wondering who could be a good role model for Maddie on self-esteem, now that she’s getting close to those critical teenage years. And then Lupita Nyong’o appeared – not only as an incredible actress but as a young Black woman who had to learn to embrace being beautiful and brown.

Here’s Lupita’s touching and candid story of how she struggled to embrace the beauty of having night-shaded skin, as she calls it:

You can bet I’ll be sharing this video with Maddie. And sending many thanks to Lupita Nyong’o for taking time to explain, in language even a 10-year-old can understand, that whatever color you are is the best color to be.


You probably know by now that Lupita won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years A Slave. Congratulations!

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