Since playing the poignant role of Patsy to critical acclaim in Steve McQueen’s film 12 years a Slave, Kenyan Actress Lupita Amondi Nyong’o has taken the world by a storm.
The decibel has been so loud that we easily forget that only eight years ago she was trolling movie sets as a production assistant. Few remembered that she was on the set of the successful Kenyan television drama Shuga in a career journey that has led to the winning of a Best Supporting Actress at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards for her role in 12 Years a Slave.
Whether for her brains, or her talents or even her caramel skin, we love Luipita because it’s easy to find something to love. The reason the Twitterati took up arms against Vanity Fair magazine when the editors lightened her skin on their cover was because we don’t like people repairing what is not damaged. Despite living in a city where many folks prefer the skin whiter, Lupita has largely remained original.
Like many actors, 30 year-old Miss Nyong’o sweated for her garlands. Upon graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies, she worked on the production crew of many films including Fernando Meirelles’s The Constant Gardener and Mira Nair’s The Namesake. This is what the concept of paying your dues actually mean. And it is not just limited to film making, lawyers do grunt-work for partners before they climb up the corporate ladders. It follows then that success often accompanies hard work. Of course there have been exceptions, but they are mostly that- exceptions. Therefore the desperation seen in many Nollywood starlets to hit fame quickly even at the cost of professionalism or moral integrity is actually a disservice to their careers.
It is interesting to note that Miss Nyong’o graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies but subsequently enrolled in an acting programme at Yale School of Drama and graduated with an MFA. At Yale, she was exposed to the fundamentals of stage productions and had roles in many plays including Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. All that learning crystalized in 12 Years a Slave, for her evocative performance in that one feature film earned her more nominations that many actors ever got in their lifetime.
Many of Nollywood’s starlets are in such a hurry to chase fame that they get thrown under the bus. In the past there were reported cases of sexual harassment by producers but recently it seemed that it is the producers that are being harassed by these desperate wannabe stars. The thing about talent is that it needs training for it to be refined, hence talent is not enough. While beauty can enhance your chances of getting noticed, it is a poor substitute for talent. Education and training are largely complementary to talent and desire, so however, good you think you are, always strive to be better. Do not settle for less.