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Lupita Nyong'o
SXSW 2019 8 - Lupita Nyong'o (46611809024) (cropped).jpg
Nyong'o at South by Southwest in 2019
Lupita Amondi Nyong'o

1 March 1983 (1983-03-01) (age 38)
Mexico City, Mexico
Citizenship Kenyan, Mexican
Alma mater Hampshire College, Yale School of Drama (MFA), Whittier College
Occupation Actress, film director, music video director
Years active 2004–present
Parent(s) Peter Anyang' Nyong'o (father)
Dorothy Nyong'o (mother)
Relatives Isis Nyong'o (cousin) Tavia Nyong'o (cousin)

Lupita Nyong'o (born 1983) is a Kenyan-Mexican actress and filmmaker. The first American movie she acted in was 12 Years a Slave. Nyong’o won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her role in 12 Years a Slave. She was also in Black Panther (2018) and Us (2019).

Early life and career

Lupita Amondi Nyong'o was born on 1 March 1983 in Mexico City, to Kenyan parents, Dorothy Ogada Buyu and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a college professor. The family had left Kenya in 1980 for a period because of political repression and unrest; Peter's brother, Charles Nyong'o, disappeared after he was thrown off a ferry in 1980.

Nyong'o holds dual Kenyan and Mexican citizenship and identifies as "Kenyan-Mexican". She is of Luo descent on both sides of her family, and is the second of six children. It is a tradition of the Luo people to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents gave her a Spanish name, Lupita (a diminutive of Guadalupe). Her father is a former Minister for Medical Services in the Kenyan government. At the time of her birth, he was a visiting lecturer in political science at El Colegio de México in Mexico City.

The family returned to their native Kenya when Nyong'o was less than one year old, as her father was appointed as a professor at the University of Nairobi. She grew up primarily in Nairobi, and describes her upbringing as "middle class, suburban". When she was 16, her parents sent her to Mexico for seven months to learn Spanish. During those seven months, Nyong'o lived in Taxco, Guerrero, and took classes at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México's Learning Centre for Foreigners.

Nyong'o grew up in an artistic family, where get-togethers often included performances by the children, and trips to see plays. She attended Rusinga International School in Kenya and acted in school plays.

At age 14, Nyong'o made her professional acting debut as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in a production by the Nairobi-based repertory company Phoenix Players. While a member of the Phoenix Players, Nyong'o also performed in the plays On The Razzle and There Goes The Bride. Nyong'o credits the performances of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple with inspiring her to pursue a professional acting career.

Nyong'o later attended St. Mary's School in Nairobi, where she received an IB Diploma in 2001. She went to the United States for college, graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies.

In 2013, her father was elected to represent Kisumu County in the Kenyan Senate and by 2017, he became Governor. Nyong'o's mother is the managing director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and her own communications company.

In 2014, Nyong’o won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her role in 12 Years a Slave. She said her acting in 12 Years a Slave was inspired by Michael Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg. Nyong'o was nominated for the British Film Academy’s Rising Star Award and on the cover of Dazed & Confused and W magazine's February 2014 issues. She was named the most beautiful in the world by PEOPLE magazine in April 2014.

Nyong'o continued to act in major Hollywood movies including Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Black Panther, and Us. As well as acting, in 2019 and 2020 she wrote a children's book, Sulwe, which was released in English, Swahili, and Luo.

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