Lupita Nyong’o: From Political Exile to Oscar to Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’

The actress — who has an Academy Award, beauty megadeals and two Disney franchises — opens up about her globe-trotting childhood, lingering insecurities and why she went public on Weinstein: “I couldn’t sleep. I needed to get it out.”


In August 2008, Lupita Nyong’o boarded a plane for her native Kenya. She was distraught. Five years after moving to America to become an undergraduate at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts — an experience she had endured rather than enjoyed — and weeks after leaving a nine-to-five office job that had left her feeling stifled and trapped, her dreams were crumbling. She was 25 years old and lost.

At home in Nairobi, where she’d lived since her family returned from political exile in the mid-’80s, she confided in her mother, her rock. Dorothy Nyong’o, then the head of her own PR company (and now the managing director of the Africa Cancer Foundation), suggested she read a book: Glen Allen McQuirk’s Map for Life, a self-help tome written by a family friend.

By the end of that year, with the help of the book and her own resolve, Nyong’o had found a new objective, as improbable as her half-Mexican, half-Kenyan name. She scribbled down words she had never dared utter out loud: “I want to be an actor.”

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