Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o has added one more creative string to her bow by writing a children’s book.
Her professional life began in Hollywood as a production assistant and made her debut as an actress in 2008 with the short film East River and starred in the Kenyan television series Shuga from 2009. After her finding her feet in the acting world Nyong’o attained a master’s degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama. She had her first feature film role in 12 Years a Slave, playing Patsey; her role in Steve McQueen’s historical drama won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The award was particularly significant as she became the first Kenyan and first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award.
Lupita Nyong’o grew up struggling with self-acceptance due to the attitudes of people around her, regarding her skin colour. Her darker complexion was often remarked upon by those around her, and at times she was compared to her lighter skinned sister. The journey to self-love was a difficult one, but eventually Lupita became the voice for young dark skinned people. Her Academy Award acceptance speech in 2014 saw her acknowledge her role as a sort of ambassador for self-love and strength of voice for those with a dark complexion.
Lupita is writing her debut children’s picture book “Sulwe”, which means ‘star’ in Luo (the author’s native language), for Simon & Schuster, and will be aimed at readers between the ages of 5 and 7. The story surrounds a 5-year-old girl growing up in Kenya who has the darkest skin colour in her family. She is uncomfortable with that fact and is determined to lighten her skin. The little girl embarks on an adventure in the night sky that eventually helps her see beauty differently, helped along with advice from Sulwe’s mother.
Speaking to The New York Times, Lupita said: “I felt really grateful that [the Academy Award speech] had this impact. And at that time it occurred to me that there was an audience that this was resonating with, but the age group that really needed to hear this wouldn’t necessarily hear the speech.”
On Instagram, the new author wrote, “This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin.”
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