Lupita Nyong’o, daughter of Kenya’s former Minister for Medical Services, Hon. Anyang Nyong’o. Just take a close look again and you’ll see some resemblance (minus Nyongo’s rick ross look a like beard :D). With regard to her acting profession, I’ve got reason to be proud of this young woman and what she has done with her life so far. I’ll just list a few and I hope we will be on the same page.
So Lupita apparently was born in Mexico, raised in Kenya and got educated in the united States. Lupita’s Dad Anyang Nyong’o must be an adventurous man, having traveled the world himself in search for golden opportunities. Its no surprise the same pattern reflects in his daughter’s genes. Prof. Nyong’o completed his undergraduate studies at Uganda’s Makerere Univeristy attaining a 1st class honors degree in Political Science…then later proceeded for his graduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Chicago, USA where he attained his Masters Degree and PhD in Political Science by 1977. And with such an academic record, its no surprise that Prof. Nyong’o took teaching positions at the University of Nairobi where he was a Professor of Political Science. He was also a visiting professor in universities in Mexico and Addis Ababa where he served until 1987, before taking up the position of Head of Programs at the American Academy of Sciences. (Those accomplishments make me feel like an academic midget right now!) Anyway, it must have been in his teaching tour in Mexico that Prof. Nyong’o was hit hard with the idea of having a baby! And you know what…when paternal instincts kick…they kick hard!! It doesn’t matter where you are! And so with that, Lupita was brought into existence!
There’s little I could find on Lupita’s history about her being raised in Kenya. But I can testify that there’s no place better to being raised. With the diverse cultures, great hospitable people, beautiful weather all year round…the list of why I’m proud to be Kenyan goes from here to timbuktu!(It really does :D) So back to Lupita’s story. Even though most about her personal life is kept well hidden, I was happy with the much I could dig out, especially with regard to her acting career. So, lupita is apparently an alumnus of Yale School of Drama. This is one of the places she honed her stage acting skills. Some of her credits include: The Winter’s Tale, The Really Big Fat Show, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Uncle Vanya, The Taming of the Shrew, the friendship of her thighs, and elijah.
(On the far right: Lupita in a scene of the play a Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare at the Yale repertory theatre, directed by Liz Diamond)
As a theatre enthusiast myself, I only marvel at such theatrical milage ! I couldn’t help notice the passion and the seriousness this young woman has for the arts. Apart from these, other stage credits include Romeo and Juliet (ThePhoenix Players), The Princess and the Golden Yam (Bantabaa Theatre), and Ruby Red (The Co-op at Dixon Place). Perhaps its her TV credits as the lead role in MTV’s award-winning, hard-hitting drama series, Shuga, for which we are most familiar with Lupita. And I must say she did a lot of justice to her role, as many of us can testify! When Shuga part 2 came knocking, not only did she take lead role a second time, she also served as supporting director. (She’s a go getter this one!) And talk of directing, in 2006, Lupita wrote, produced and directed her own documentary, a feature about the treatment of Kenya’s albino population titled In My Genes. She did the documentary as her final thesis project at Hampshire college, where she graduated in 2007. The documentary highlights the life of Agnes’ past, a woman with albinism who overcomes the torment of being born albino in a family, community and society that discriminates against the condition. It was officially launched in Nairobi on May 2009 and went ahead to be screened in three major film festivals in three continents including the New York African Film Festival and the Dockanema Documentary Film Festival in Mozambique. Lupita has also worked on the production teams of critically acclaimed films including The Constant Gardener (2005) directed by Fernando Mereilles and The Namesake (2006) directed by Mira Nair.
(Lupita with some guests during the official launch of In My Genes the documentary)
The list of what Lupita has done over the years as a filmmaker and actress is long..we can barely cover enough ground with one blog post. But what has caused a stir in the recent past is the fact that Lupita has already made her debut in hollywood when she was cast in the film, 12 Years a Slave, which is set to premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The movie, which features hollywood greats like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, is based on a true story of a free black man kidnapped from New York and sold into brutal slavery in mid-1850s Louisiana, and the inspiring story of his desperate struggle to return home to his family. Lupita plays Patsey in the film and I can’t wait to check it out once its released! With a production budget of $20 million, filming began in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 27, 2012. It lasted for seven weeks, concluding on August 13, 2012. What a journey!
(Lupita of the film I2 years a slave alongside Sarah Paulson)
So, they say the fastest way to get to a man is through his stomach. This stereotype doesn’t apply to me. What easily grips my soul is when I see a passion in people who are relentlessly following after their own hopes and dreams. And Lupita’s life is a classic example of what life can truly turn out to be when we decide to go after own hearts desire with spirited zeal. I really don’t think Lupita’s way to hollywood came by chance, rather, her history of what she’s been doing over the years speaks clearly for itself. The challenge I’ve had even as I was compiling this article was: It doesn’t matter where you were born, what language you speak, what’s happened in the past, whether rich or poor..etc. What really matters is this: What will you do when the opportunity to be all you were created to be presents itself to you? Will you be ready? And I really don’t believe life gives you rare, golden opportunities which are hard to find. Rather, LIFE IS ONE BIG GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY ALL BY ITSELF! We should just quit complaining about what we don’t have…and be GRATEFUL for what God has given us and use that as a stepping stone to get closer to what we aspire to be. It definitely does take hard work, a sea of sweat and not forgetting God’s grace to elevate us to our life’s purpose. And while you are in the hang of doing that, remember not to lose the passion…just as Lupita has so well exhibited. God’s word says in Colossians 3:23 that “Whatever you do…DO IT HEARTILY as unto the lord…” All the best as you chase your hope and dreams.
The world is better off with one passionate person, than 40 interested individuals”
(So the Trailer of 12 Years a slave was released just a few weeks ago, and it was a joy getting to see Lupita in there doing her thing. Check it out here:)