Lupita Nyongo, the Academy Award winning actress best known for playing Patsy in 12 years a slave, was recently given the honor of gracing the cover of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World issue.
It was exciting and just a major, major compliment,” the 31-year-old says of gracing this year’s cover. And especially, “I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen.”
Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, Lupita grew up in a time when the media celebrated the idea of “Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair,” she says. “Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.” Her mother, Dorothy, who is the managing director and head of PR for the Africa Cancer Foundation, “always said I was beautiful,” Nyong’o adds. “And I finally believed her at some point.”
As a teen, Lupita dyed her hair every color – except blonde – and even went as far as shaving her head bald. “It was very strange and very cold!” she says, laughing. “It was scary but I like to dare myself.”
Now she says the best compliments are “when I have been called beautiful with not one drop of makeup on,” she adds. “And also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress. Happiness is the most important thing.”