Lupita Nyong’o has been named “Woman Of The Year” by Glamour and she’s gracing the magazine’s December cover to celebrate the honor.
The actress has been chafing the way Hollywood works ever since her award-winning performance in 12 Years a Slave captivated the world and now she’s sharing her feelings on her rise to success.
“I don't think I will ever be able to really articulate how bizarre it was to hear my name at the Academy Awards. I’d watched in my pajamas the year before! I felt numb—dazed and confused. I remember feeling light - weightless. More like limbo than cloud nine. At first I was like, This is my statue; nobody gets to touch it. And by midnight I was like, Please, someone, take this statue; it’s too heavy! So I gave it to my brother, and he went off with it,” she said.
“There was so much going on! It was overwhelming. That’s the thing: You win an Oscar, and immediately people ask how you feel. So you don’t have time to actually feel anything because you have to generate a response. And then some of the feelings you have are so intimate and visceral, words don’t really do them justice.”
It seems the superstar is still waiting for the reality of her accomplishments to sink in.
“This is actually a conversation I look forward to having in 10 years, when all of this is behind me and I have some real perspective on what happened—because right now I’m still adjusting. I guess I feel catapulted into a different place; I have a little whiplash,” she said.
“I did have a dream to be an actress, but I didn’t think about being famous. And I haven’t yet figured out how to be a celebrity; that’s something I’m learning, and I wish there were a course on how to handle it. I have to be aware that my kinesphere may be larger than I want it to be.
I’ve had somebody say, ‘I want you at my wedding, but I don’t want you to pull focus, so wear jeans!’ Losing my anonymity is something that’s proving to be very challenging. It’s good for your soul to walk around unnoticed; there’s so much you can’t do when everybody knows who you are. And I so miss those little things.”
She also weighed in on her growing sense of responsibility brought on by fame.
“With success comes more responsibility, a larger size of existence, which is uncomfortable…I feel a responsibility to myself and my parents and the people whose love has gotten me this far—people who were in my life before fame. That’s where I get my sense of self,” she said.
“It’s deadly for anyone to take on that role of a deity; it’s not sustainable. I’ve got tons of flaws. Call my mother—she’ll tell you! She keeps it real. Sometimes you don’t want to hear the truth; she’ll tell it to you out of love.”
On “the Lupita Effect”
She’s also aware of the role she has played in changing Hollywood’s representation of beauty.
“I've heard people talk about images in popular culture changing, and that makes me feel great, because it means that the little girl I was, once upon a time, has an image to instill in her that she is beautiful, that she is worthy—that she can,” she said.
“Until I saw people who looked like me, doing the things I wanted to, I wasn't so sure it was a possibility. Seeing Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah in The Color Purple, it dawned on me: ‘Oh—I could be an actress!’ We plant the seed of possibility.”
Check out more from Lupita in the video below: