Lupita Nyong'o Goes Glam for Vogue, Hopes to 'Create Opportunities for People of Color'
By Desiree Murphy
Photo: Mario Testino/Vogue
Lupita Nyong'o's latest fashion shoot took place at the location she knows best -- her family's village in Kenya.
With her native East African land in the background, the Queen of Katwe star glows on the October issue of Vogue magazine while donning a gorgeous Chanel floral frock, Vernon François headwrap and Cathy Waterman earrings.
The breathtaking spread, which also features Nyong'o gracefully leaping through a field in a flowy Chloe dress and Christian Louboutin sandals, was shot by Mario Testino.
In her accompanying interview with the glossy, the 33-year-old actress shares an important piece of advice from her 12 Years a Slave director, Steve McQueen: "You have to go back to the beginning, to when you saw your first film or dressed up, and remind yourself what the purpose is, why you got into the profession, because you get seduced by the obvious."
For Nyong'o, that purpose is using her star power to reshape the way the world sees itself, and to "change the narrative."
"Being able to use my platform to expand and diversify the African voice, I feel very passionate about that," she explains. "It feels intentional, meaningful."
"The European sense of beauty affects us all," she continues. "I came home from college in the early 2000's and saw ads on TV with a girl who can't get a job. She uses this product. She gets her skin lighter. She gets the job. The lording of lighter skin is a common thing growing up in Nairobi. Being called 'black mamba.' The slow burn of recognizing something else is better than you."
Flash forward to present day, and Nyong'o is happy to see women of all different skin tones and sizes breaking down the barriers of what it means to be beautiful. She says she's especially inspired and thrilled to see Alek Wek, a "dark as night" model from South Sudan, light up the runway, with people celebrating and embracing her true beauty.
"Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves," she dishes. "That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing. There is no point in getting your picture taken if it doesn't move somebody. Right?"
"I want to create opportunities for other people of color because I'm fortunate enough to have a platform to do that. That is why Eclipsed and even Queen of Katwe are so important, to change the narrative, offer a new lens on African identity," she reveals, later adding that as an African actress, she's always "looking to develop great projects" and "searching for characters who are full of life, complicated and indelible in their pursuits and in their needs."
"I cannot run away from who I am and my complexion or the larger society and how they may view that," she continues. "I realize that with what I shared at the Essence awards."
At the Essence Black Women Luncheon in February 2014, Nyong'o admitted she wasn't always confident, mainly due to the color of her skin
"I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin," she said at the time. "And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned."
Following Vogue's announcement that Nyong'o was their new cover girl, the Oscar winner took to Instagram on Thursday to share her excitement, posting an emotional video of herself opening up a box with the magazine inside.