Speaking at a Black Women in Hollywood luncheon last week, the 12 Years A Slave actress spoke candidly about her struggle to feel beautiful and comfortable in her own skin.There wasn't anyone in the public realm she could look up to. “I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful" Nyong’o explained. "I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin.”
But, that all changed with the arrival of supermodel Alek Wek. “A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was,” Nyong'o said. “Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful.”
Cut to 2014, and it seems that this Hollywood super star and newly minted fashion icon has the world at her feet. But, without a little inspiration from a certain Ms. Wek, the story might have a very different ending. Nyong’o’s speech highlights the need for role models of every nationality, race, gender, and sexuality. How many other young women like Lupita Nyong’o are waiting for the exact same inspiration and validation to make their own dreams come true?
Click through to watch the entire speech in full. (Time)