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‘I Knew as Soon as It Was Over’: Lupita Nyong’o Opens Up About Becoming Meme After Will Smith Oscars Slap and Walking Away from Role In ‘The Woman King’ 

Lupita Nyong’o is learning she can’t always control how people see her in Hollywood. 

Earlier this year, the Academy Award-winning actress received the meme treatment for her reaction to Will Smith after the Oscar winner walked onstage and slapped Chris Rock as he presented the Best Documentary category. Rock had just wrapped up a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. 

As the “King Richard” returned to his seat, a shocked Lupita, mouth open, appeared sitting behind him. In a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the actress said she “knew as soon as it was over” that she’d go viral. 

“Once the moment was over, I realized, ‘Oh my God, there’s no way all this transpired, and I’m not in the shot,’” the star said. “I knew as soon as it was over that I was going to be a meme.”  As for her further thoughts on the shocking March incident, Lupita shared, “I don’t want to add any more fuel to that thing, quite frankly.”

While she might not have been able to change the course of her image into a meme to express shock across text messages and social media responses, Nyong’o did disassociate herself from another significant event she didn’t see fit. 

The 39-year-old star is reprising her role as WarDog Nakia in the “Black Panther” sequel “Wakanda Forever,” recently opened up about why she turned down a role in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King,” starring Viola Davis, which has been a critical and box office success since its release in September. Nyong’o was set to star as a warrior of the Agojie tribe, whose legacy inspired the fictional Dora Milaje female army in “BP.”

However, shortly after her casting, Nyong’o made a short documentary about the Agoji, “Warrior Women With Lupita Nyong’o,” in which, as The Hollywood Reporter describes it, she “grapples uncomfortably with the tribe’s legacy of violence.” Soon after making that film Nyong’o exited the “Woman King” project. Without further explanation, the actress said, “It was very amicable, the departure from it, but I felt it wasn’t the role for me to play.”

Fans can catch the Oscar winner in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” theaters starting on Nov. 11. 

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