In the past two weeks, Kenyan actress/producer, Lupita Nyong O’, has been in the news for all the right reasons. From her various nominations as best supporting actress for her performance in “12 Years a Slave”, to her Screen Actors Guild awards win, to articles in the New York Times, Vanity fair, features on CNN among others.
As CNN rightly puts it, she has become Hollywood’s new ‘it girl’. Everyone loves her. She has even had some of the best Red carpet moments this award season. She can do no wrong (at least for now).
Naturally, with all the accolades and praises she has been receiving, I expect to see her in major Hollywood releases soon, some in the lead role. Her acting is really good, so this should not be a problem. The real question however is, how many of these lead roles will she get?
Let’s face it, Hollywood is an image conscious industry and (avoiding the argument of whether Lupita is beautiful or not) Lupita might not exactly fit into the stereotype. Yes, she’s a brilliant actress, but success in Hollywood goes beyond just talent.
You probably remember Gabourey Sidibe from the 2009 movie ‘Precious’. After her performance in the movie (which was her debut), a lot of praises poured in. She won quite a number of Awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Many tagged her, next big thing (no pun intended) in Hollywood.
Four years on, and Hollywood has managed to relegate Gabourey to the sidelines. Only two of the movies she’s done since then (Tower Heist and Seven Psychopaths) are familiar- neither of which she was in the lead role.
Recently, she has been receiving criticisms about her weight from some of the same people that did not have a problem with it four years ago.
Now, the next question is, what do Lupita and Gabourey have in common? The answer; they don’t exactly fit the image Hollywood tries to project.
The average movie star (especially the female one) is slim and gorgeous. Both our ladies do not exactly fit the bill. Their talents may not be in question, but their looks definitely are.
With Lupita, I hope Hollywood has finally come to a place where it can genuinely overlook physical appearance for pure talent and it’s not just another season for letting the ‘outcasts’ in. I would definitely love to see more of Lupita Nyong’ O.
As regards the question of Lupita’s beauty, I say; beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.