Lupita Nyong'o has certainly had a standout year. The actress dazzled audiences as Patsey in the film 12 Years a Slave, which later earned her an Academy Award. She also landed a major beauty contract with Lancôme and nabbed roles in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII and The Jungle Book. She is also a fashion darling that we cannot get enough of and for all these reasons Glamour has made her the face of its annual Women of the Year issue. Inside, the 31-year-old Kenyan beauty talked about fame, her role models, and childhood.
"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," Nyong'o said about how her life has changed in the past year. "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. 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."
Nyong'o, who claims Oprah Winfrey molded her idea of "what it meant to be female and to really step into your own power,” admitted that she struggles with insecurities and the little voice in her head that tells her to hold back.
"Every time I overcome an obstacle, it feels like success," she said. "Sometimes the biggest ones are in our heads — the saboteurs that tell us we can't. I've always had that going on: 'I can't,' and then I do, so the voice says, 'Well, that was an exception!' It's a tug-of-war between two voices: the one who knows she can and the one who's scared she can't."
"I say, 'Sit down — I'll get to you in a second, but let me do this first,'” Nyong'o continued. “The more challenging life gets, the louder that voice becomes — but then I have to be friendly to it, be gentle with myself. The fearful voice is afraid of failure but also of success."
To read her entire cover story, click here.
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(Photo: Glamour Magazine, December 2014)