12 Things to Know About ’12 Years a Slave’ Breakout Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong'o on the red carpet. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
There is a lot of praise being directed at the Oscar frontrunner "12 Years a Slave," and deservedly so. Filmmaker Steve McQueen is getting recognition for his taut and uncompromising portrayal of slavery; Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a powerful but restrained lead performance; Michael Fassbender makes one wicked slave master.
And then there's the film's clear breakout star, Lupita Nyong'o. You'll hear her name a lot over the next few months as nominations and awards start being doled out.
McQueen plucked the 30-year-old Yale School of Drama grad to play Patsey, the field slave and suicidal object of the twisted affection, and repeated violence, of Edwin Epps (Fassbender).
Here are 12 nuggets to know about Lupita, which she revealed to Yahoo Movies:
1. She's Mexi-Kenyan. Nyong'o's parents are Kenyan but her mother gave birth in Mexico. "It's gotten me into a lot of trouble: Kenyans want to claim me and, now, Mexicans do, too," Nyong'o tells us. We're guessing she'll hold the distinction of being the "first Mexi-Kenyan to be nominated for an Academy Award."
2. Her Obama connection. Nyong'o hails from the Luo peoples in western Kenya. Who hails from the same ethnic group? Only the commander in chief of the United States, Barack Obama. (The president's father, Barack Obama Sr., was a prominent member of Kenya's Luo political movement.)
Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave
4. She's used to the spotlight. Her father, Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, is a political leader in his native Kenya, and Lupita grew up in the public eye. While the University of Chicago Ph.D is now a member of the Kenyan parliament, her father's past struggles for local democracy forced the family into political exile in Mexico and led to her father's occasional disappearances.