Actress Lupita Nyong’O has given a new (and stunning) face to black Hollywood. Her lovely mocha skin and natural hair are images that aren’t seen as often as many would like on the big screen. In many ways, the 31-year-old actress has aided in showing young brown girls that their “black is beautiful.”
The “Twelve Years A Slave” actress recently won an Academy Award. She also recently gave a moving and inspirational speech at the Essence magazine Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. She had a very important message for young black girls.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up light- skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God. I told Him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if He gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word, and never lose my school sweater again if He just made me a little lighter.
She went on to talk about her idea of beauty and how her mother helped her change it:
It [beauty] was something I just had to be. And what my mother meant when she said, ‘you can’t eat beauty’ is that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What actually sustains us—what is fundamentally beautiful—is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsy in so much trouble with her master but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit, even after the beauty of her body has faded away. And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. That there is no shade in that beauty.
Do you think that Lupita has changed the definition of “beauty” of black Hollywood and for young girls?
Check out Lupita’s speech, HERE.