How can you not love Lupita Nyong'o? NBC News declared of her "A Star is Born" after she won an Academy Award last night for her performance as Patsey in Twelve Years a Slave. She delivered a classy and poignant acceptance speech that was as memorable as her award-winning performance. .
Lupita was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents and she is the first Mexican-born woman as well as the sixth woman of color to win an Academy Award.
Her father was a visiting professor in Mexico City and Lupita moved back to Kenya as a little girl. When she was 16, she went back to Mexico to study Spanish for a year.
Lupita began acting in grade school and made her professional acting debut in Nairobi at the age of 14 as Juliet in a production of Romeo and Juliet. She came to the US to attend Hampshire College and then went on to work on production crews for a number of films including The Constant Gardener with Ralph Fiennes who she credits with encouraging her to pursue an acting career. She enrolled in Yale's famous drama school in 2009 and finished last year.
This was Lupita's first film role since graduating Yale. And it was a stunner. She was nominated 73 different awards for this acting role and won 45 of them.
It's the rare acceptance speech that draws the kind of emotional response that Lupita's words elicited, particularly since you get just a few seconds to express yourself. The Washington Post provided a transcript this morning:
Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesnít escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone elseís. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.
Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position, itís been the joy of my life. [Tears, applause.] Iím certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I.
Chiwetel, thank you for your fearlessness and how deeply you went into Solomon, telling Solomonís story. Michael Fassbender, thank you so much. You were my rock. Alfre and Sarah, it was a thrill to work with you. Joe Walker, the invisible performer in the editing room, thank you. Sean Bobbitt, Kalaadevi, Adruitha, Patty Norris, thank you, thank you, thank you ó I could not be here without your work.
I want to thank my family, for your training [laughs] and the Yale School of Drama as well, for your training. My friends the Wilsons, this oneís for you. My brother Junior sitting by my side, thank you so much, youíre my best friend and then my other best friend, my chosen family.
When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where youíre from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.
Lupita is already on screen in a new role in the just premiered Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. I'm looking forward to seeing this break-out actress moving on to leading actress roles.