What Nollywood Starlets Can Learn From Lupita Nyong’o

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.

10 thoughts on “What Nollywood Starlets Can Learn From Lupita Nyong’o” by isaac anyaogu (@isaac82)

  1. Great article. I love Lupita. She’s a wonderful actress.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Myne.

  2. Great article but the truth is that black American actress don’t get more roles in American movies.I hope after the hype dies down, they give her roles in upcoming movies.

    1. “The truth is that black American actress don’t get more roles in American movies.” I may disagree with u on dat one, cos d last time I checked, only 20% of Americans r black…I think dis shud explain clearly.

      1. @transformer, less than 13% of Americans are black at the last census

    2. Valid points there, but she already got a part in an upcoming movie and also black entertainment in America is flourishing too. I think she will find a way.

  3. Bandana (@Bandana)

    This lady knows where she is heading and has strived hard to get there., raking up academic qualifications to garnish her talent.

    I have always believed that in the movie industry, talent is very subjective. The decision of what is right or wrong or fair rests with those taking the decisions.

    So you need an edge – added value and acquired skills from training and education to up your chances .

    That’s the message for those who wish to get there .

    1. Talent indeed is subjective, besides the exposure you can get from training itself can be worth it’s weight in gold. The script for 12 years a slave actually got to Lupita through someone in the same Yale program she was in.

  4. I love this article, especially the part about paying one’s dues. I think we need to learn that. It seems as though everyone wants instant gratification, and the consequence of that is poor quality, no substance or depth. It’s why some careers die before the individuals die.

    1. Spot on @Efadel, i wish more actors will pay attention to this.

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