Nowadays it seems like there’s a new story about Lupita Nyong’o every day. She’s been popping up on magazine covers, in photo shoots, and in fashion ad campaigns ever since word started to spread about her amazing performance in “12 Years A Slave”–impressive praise considering it was her first role in a feature film. And from her sartorial success at every red carpet event, it’s clear that Lupita is fashion’s newest It-Girl , and a worthy one at that. The latest honor to come her way was landing the cover of New York Magazine‘s Spring Fashion issue and an accompanying profile and editorial within, which was photographed by Erik Madigan Heck whose bold use of color really makes Lupita stand out beautifully.
The profile is a welcome, but guarded, peek into the life and times of Lupita. We learn about her path to acting, the role Ralph Fiennes played in pushing her to attend acting school, and why she likes her privacy. Her intelligence and composure are evident in not just her strong presence, but also the way she talks. It’s not hard to see why “12 Years” director Steve McQueen was immediately struck by her. And he’s had nothing but warm things to say about Lupita since their film wrapped, telling New York Magazine, “You know, there’s been a lot said about dark-skinned black actresses and the limitations they have within film. Well, I just hope that directors and other creative people have the idea of putting her in great and interesting projects, because she’s extraordinary.”
See below for a preview of what Lupita reveals in her interview with New York Magazine. You can read the whole thing here or pick up an issue at your local news stand.
On her first role in her school’s production of “Oliver Twist”: “I was a passerby. I had five words: ‘Coming down the street, there.’ That was it. But I had a backstory for my character. I decided I was going to be a man, so I borrowed my brother’s suit, my dad’s briefcase. I don’t know why I decided to be a man—I think it was more interesting.”
On going to college in America: “I thrive on structure. I find my freedom in structure. It was very hard to adjust to an individualistic and very liberal system. I mean, my upbringing, I would iron my clothes every night. I would plan what I wore the night before, and then I would iron it. That’s just the way my mom raised us. Then I got to Hampshire, where clothing is sometimes optional and all this kind of thing. I was mortified.”
On meeting Ralph Fiennes on the set of “The Constant Gardener”: “He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I very timidly admitted that I was interested in being an actor. He sighed and said, ‘If there’s something else that you want to do, do that. Only act if you feel you can’t live without it.’ It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was the thing I needed to hear.”
Click through to see Lupita’s photo shoot from the Spring Fashion issue of New York Magazine.