The ‘Lupita Effect’ and How Nyong’o Hasn’t ‘Figured Out How to be a Celebrity’

Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s accelerated ascent to fame took her by surprise as quickly as it did her fans.

Nyong’o has been extremely popular since her much-heralded performance in “12 Years a Slave.” She was selected to be on the cover of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year December issue. She was also chosen as the “Most Beautiful” by People magazine. Her presence has had such an impact on the fashion and film industry that the phrase “The Lupita Effect” has caught on.

Nyong’o told Glamour:

I’ve heard people talk about images in popular culture changing, and that makes me feel great, because it means that the little girl I was, once upon a time, has an image to instill in her that she is beautiful, that she is worthy — that she can. Until I saw people who looked like me, doing the things I wanted to, I wasn’t so sure it was a possibility. Seeing Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah in “The Color Purple,” it dawned on me: ‘Oh — I could be an actress!’ We plant the seed of possibility.

CNN was so impressed with Nyong’o’s new found fame that they created a special segment for an episode of “Inside Africa” on how she influenced creative arts in Kenya, where she was raised.

While at the Oscar’s, not only did she win an award, but was also apart of that super selfie that Ellen DeGeneres had taken with Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, and other A-list stars. In addition to that, she placed a kiss on DeGeneres’ hat and as if on cue, the hashtag #LupitasLipBalm started trending on Twitter. Clarins, the company that made the lip balm Nyong’o was wearing that night, released a statement afterwards noting that the product nearly “sold out across the country overnight.”

She went on to tell Glamour that her new fame hasn’t been the smoothest transition. Nyong’o said:

This is actually a conversation I look forward to having in 10 years, when all of this is behind me and I have some real perspective on what happened — because right now I’m still adjusting. I guess I feel catapulted into a different place; I have a little whiplash … I did have a dream to be an actress, but I didn’t think about being famous. And I haven’t yet figured out how to be a celebrity; that’s something I’m learning, and I wish there were a course on how to handle it. I have to be aware that my kinesphere may be larger than I want it to be.

Nyong’o is an amazing example of breaking down the stereotypes of what beauty and success look like. Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, Nyong’o brings a much needed element of diversity to the limiting idea and expectations of what beauty is.


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