Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o is styled by Tracy Taylor in liquid, evening elegance in bold colors for ‘Drama Queen’. Paola Kudacki is in the studio for the March 8 issue of Porter Edit. Marjon Carlos conducts the interview
AOC won’t spend time on Lupita’s upcoming horror film ‘Us’, directed by Jordan Peele. The psychological thriller, also featuring Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker, opens in theaters on March 22. Nyong’o is never a dull, robotic interview and she shed great light on her taxing role and relationship with Jordan Peele in her recent Marie Claire US cover story.
Actor Lupita Nyong'o is a queen for many reasons, including her universal messaging of inclusion and protection in Hollywood -- even by Brad Pitt. Lupita opens her Porter Edit interview speaking to more protection and genuine support of Hollywood people like Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Gabrielle Union and Jared Leto, who remains on speed dial.
“Emma Thompson, she’s the realest woman. Observing her on the red carpet and how free and irreverent she was… [Thompson photobombed Nyong’o at the 2014 SAG Awards; the ensuing pictures went viral.] She was like, ‘Don’t sweat it. We get to wear pretty dresses and prance around this red carpet, so enjoy it.’ That made it less pressure. I’m like, ‘Okay, I need to channel my Emma Thompson. This is a big moment in my life, but also it’s just a moment.’”
Living in the NOW
“When I made Black Panther, that was the best thing in the world: going to set every day, making this movie that’s like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this.’ I wasn't thinking, ‘What’s opening night going to be like?’ I was there [in the moment]. It’s been such a rewarding experience because it’s not about the thing that we haven’t yet achieved; it’s about the thing we’re achieving right now. As human beings, we can’t necessarily just be in the present moment; we have to constantly negotiate between dwelling on the past and anticipating the future and the moment in-between. I think what makes my life enjoyable is that I understand and appreciate that now is all that matters.”
Lupita has a long history of commenting about the impact of a Eurocentric gaze.
Embrace Your Fabulous Hair
“I don’t feel defined by my hair, and I think that’s why I like to play with it. I remember when I was a teenager in Kenya, I had relaxed hair and I decided on a whim that I was going to cut it all off and grow my hair natural. I’d been going to the same hairstylist for years – he was a Kenyan, like me, and when I went natural, he didn’t know what to do with it. He was like, ‘They don’t teach us how to style natural hair in school.’ There’s been a whole revolution, led by African America for sure, where we are embracing our natural hair texture and returning to a past glory. You look at beautiful traditional hairdos from pre-colonial and colonial times and they have been erased from so much of our contemporary expression. I remember one of the first times I really saw African hairstyles preserved and celebrated as art was through the photographic lens of Leni Riefenstahl. I was 10 years old and had not truly seen images of natural pre-colonial hairstyles beyond our Kenyan borders. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with Riefenstahl’s work as a Nazi propagandist and that, in and of itself, is highly problematic, because this deeply colonialist, white supremacist gaze was introducing me to the people and hairstyles of the Nuba, Dinka and Shilluk of Sudan. Essentially, even when we as a colonized or oppressed people are engaging with images or notions of our ancestry, it is so often within a Eurocentric gaze. That idea has stayed with me. Now at least it seems like we are waking up to ourselves again, and are like, ‘Hey, hold on, wait a minute…’ Our hair is kind of fabulous and it’s like clay and we can do all sorts of things with it.”
Read more about Lupita’s grab her by the throat experience in her starring role in ‘Us"‘.