Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o is now a songwriter and singer!
The Us star, 36, co-wrote and performs the new song, “Sulwe’s Song,” to accompany her new children’s picture book, Sulwe, which has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for four weeks since its release on Oct. 15.
“I wrote my children’s book Sulwe based on my experience with colorism from a very young age,” Nyong’o tells PEOPLE. “My goal was to plant a seed of self-worth in children just as they are starting to get a sense of the larger world, and internalizing how other people see them.”
Sulwe, which means “star” in Luo, Nyong’o’s native language, tells the story of a 5-year-old girl growing up in Kenya who is uncomfortable because she has the darkest skin color in her family. Through an adventure in the sky (and with help from her mom), she begins to see herself as beautiful.
Nyong’o felt it was important to address the issue in a way that young mind’s could easily understand.
“Although colorism is a heavy topic, it was important to me that Sulwe’s story have warmth, whimsy and exist in a land of dreams,” she says.
And while the actress, who will next reprise her role as humanoid pirate Maz Kanata in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, has no plans to stop acting, she appreciated the opportunity to “flex a new creative muscle” with her book, which features illustrations by Vashti Harrison, also seen in the lyric video.
“It also inspired me to try my hand at something else: songwriting and singing,” Nyong’o says.
The Black Panther star co-wrote “Sulwe’s Song” with K’naan and Steve McEwen as a companion to the book, she adds “for both children and adults to carry Sulwe’s message with them in song after reading the story.”