Since making her debut in Hollywood, Lupita Nyong’o’s undeniable beauty has been displayed in feature films, plastered on magazine covers and slaying on red carpets. But even with all her accolades, Lupita Nyong’o can’t help but feel “invisible” about being a black actress in Hollywood.
The Oscar-winning actress says dark-skinned women are underrepresented in Western culture and admitted she can identify with very few on-screen characters.
If you turn on the television and you are not represented on that television, you become invisible to yourself.
“And there was very little of myself that I saw on TV, or in the movies that I was watching, or in magazines that were lying around the salons or around the house.
“And so these are subconscious things. Yes, Western beauty standards are things that affect the entire world.
“And then what happens? You’re a society that doesn’t value darker skin.”
Lupita – who is best known for her starring role in ’12 Years a Slave’ – also recalled the sense of loneliness she felt as a black woman living in Mexico, where she was born and lived during her later teenage years, having spent the bulk of her childhood in Kenya.
In a chat with Elle Magazine, she told the publication:
“People would stop and take pictures of us just because we were black. And it was a time during that tricky adolescent phase when you’re coming into yourself and you’re trying to pave your own way but you’re insecure about where you lie. It devastated me.”
And Lupita is not alone in her frustration. I myself am a brown girl and feel very underrated and underrepresented in television and in films with the exception of Brandy, Kelly Rowland, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Lupita Nyong’o and a few others. As a child I grew up loving and admiring Brandy for her role as Moesha because her character was smart, beautiful, articulate, stylish and most importantly for me – she was brown. She looked like me and I could relate to her. To this day, I still love Brandy. Lupita girl, you are not alone.
By Monique C. Tillman