BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — There wasn’t a dry eye in the house Thursday when Lupita Nyong’o delivered an emotional speech while accepting her honor for best breakout performance at Essence magazine’s seventh annual Women in Hollywood luncheon.

The 12 Years a Slave star and Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress confessed that as a young girl, she had wished her dark-hued skin would become lighter.

“I got teased and taunted about my skin,” Nyong’o said, on stage in a ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter 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 the mirror because I wanted to see my face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before.”

Nyong’o said she tried to bargain with God by vowing to stop eating sugar cubes and to never lose her school sweater again, if she could only see a change in her skin tone. It wasn’t until she discovered Sudanese British supermodel Alek Wek that she began to believe in her own beauty.

“She was dark as night and was in all the magazines and on runways,” Nyong’o said. “My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me.”

Nyong’o said she would also like to inspire young women.

“I hope that my presence on your screen and my face in magazines may lead you, young girls, on a beautiful journey,” she said. “That you will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”

Essence also paid tribute to Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who was presented with the trailblazer award by Sidney Poitier and Oprah Winfrey.

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9 thoughts on “Oscar Nominee Lupita Nyong’o Says Complexion Was An Issue

  1. Debra on said:

    We have to teach our children (especially our boys) that sisters that look like this young woman is Beautiful. My daughter is not as dark as this young woman, and a boy in her class (6th grade) told her “she would be fine if she was light skin”. I was pissed. I told my daughter, he has no sense and its sad that his mother has/is not teaching him nothing – not self respect or respect.. He doesn’t like himself, so he don’t think much of other people!

  2. of course it would be an issue when the ‘European Standard of Beauty’ is highly regarded World Over.. especially in Africa. Europe. and absolutely here in the ‘West’. do you think that was a COINCIDENCE that Director/Actor Bill Duke made that documentary “Dark Girls”?!? obviously, there’s a serious dilemma World Over about discrimination in native Dark Countries.. Bill Duke just concentrated on this society in the ‘West’. Trust me, he could have went all over the World and would have had tons of evidence. Negroids need to wake up to what’s going on around them!!!

  3. I bet it was mostly blacks who trashed her. I will say it again, blacks can be there biggest bigots against other blacks; and when whites talk trash about blacks, we as blacks get upset when we do the same thing to ourselves. I am glad for her.

    • Jermaine on said:

      I can respect those feelings (Amber) Please understand though, The same DOG that bit them, bit You as well as me and everybody else that is Non white.That dog is a beast of a SYSTEM called ‘white-supremacy/racism’ and it affects ALL areas of people activity:
      Entertainment,Economics,Education,RELIGION,Politics,Labor,Law,Sex and War.
      The biggest stronghold that is yet to be broken is in Religion. The Fact is,(Amber), AFRICANS living in America are serving a god that was FORCED on them and Not the GOD that they served. When AFRICANS cast off their white god, they ARE free.When you Control a mans God, you control everything about that man and his children. We, as AFRICANS have been living an Imitation of Life for too long.

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