Lupita Nyong'o, Glamour's Woman of the Year, Compares Oprah's Influence to the Bible

by Antoinette Bueno 8:31 AM PST, November 03, 2014
Photo: Glamour Magazine

Though it's been more than seven months since 12 Years a Slave star Lupita Nyong'o became a household name thanks to her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in March, it's safe to say her fame has not just been a flash in the pan.

The beautiful actress, 31, has managed to redefine narrow standards of success and beauty, stunning as a brand ambassador for Lancome and clinching the People's Most Beautiful Woman title in April. And now she's just been announced as Glamour magazine's 2014 Woman of the Year.

Photo: Glamour Magazine

According to Lupita, she's still adjusting to her new status on the A-list.

"I guess I feel catapulted into a different place; I have a little whiplash… I did have a dream to be an actress, but I didn't think about being famous," she tells Glamour. "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."

VIDEO: Why Lupita is 'People' Mag's 'Most Beautiful'

Though she did have one very important role model growing up -- Oprah Winfrey, 60.

"Oprah played a big role in my understanding of what it meant to be female and to really step into your own power," she says. "I wouldn’t even call her a role model; she was literally a reference point. You have the dictionary, you have the Bible, you have Oprah."

Lupita also touches on becoming a role model -- especially for other women of color -- in her typically eloquent way, recalling a particularly mortifying incident growing up in Kenya.

"European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world -- the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love," she explains. "When I was in the second grade, one of my teachers said, 'Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?' I was mortified. I remember seeing a commercial where a woman goes for an interview and doesn't get the job. Then she puts a cream on her face to lighten her skin, and she gets the job! This is the message: that dark skin is unacceptable."

But her supportive mother instilled the message in her that beauty is truly skin-deep.

"I come from a loving, supportive family, and my mother taught me that there are more valuable ways to achieve beauty than just through your external features," she says. "She was focused on compassion and respect, and those are the things that ended up translating to me as beauty. Beautiful people have many advantages, but so do friendly people. I think beauty is an expression of love."

But whatever her thoughts on her own beauty, Lupita has clearly taken the fashion world by storm since catapulting to fame during awards season.

Check out her epic fashion flashback in the video below!

VIDEO: Lupita Runs from Snake During 'Vogue' Shoot

Glamour's December issue hits newsstands nationwide on Nov. 11