Patsey stole the show in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, and now the woman behind the character, Lupita Nyong’o, is stealing our hearts as the latest cover star of DuJour magazine.
The Kenyan beauty — who was born in Mexico but raised in Nairobi and the U.S. — opened up to the publication about landing her first major role and adjusting to a new life of fame. Even after starring alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in one of the biggest Oscar contenders of the year, the 30-year-old actress said she still doesn’t mind giving fans a hug.
“When I learned Steve McQueen was directing and Brad Pitt was producing, I thought, ‘Well, this is huge,’” the Yale School of Drama grad said. “I had no expectation of getting the role at all; it was just too out there for me to think I had a chance. So I approached the audition like a rehearsal. It was my chance to have that role for 10 minutes, and I owned it. Then I got the part and the panic began.”
Lupita went on the say she’s not letting the Oscar buzz get to her head.
“I’m definitely forced to think about it, but there’s nothing to do with the thought because it’s totally out of my hands,” she explained. “I’m really fulfilled right now by the traction this film is getting. It was made to be seen, and that’s what’s happening—America is engaging with it and being moved and changed by it. It’s really rewarding to be a part of that. That’s more important to me than any award.”
“I would love to have a career that’s governed by the material; I always want to be part of stories that I feel are worthwhile,” she added about her future projects. “And they don’t all have to be as heavy as 12 Years a Slave. I do my best work when I feel conviction to say something through the character I play. Always I want to have integrity and not compromise that.”
And as far as fans, Lupita said “lots of people come up and touch my back and want to give me a hug.”
“At this point, it’s not too crazy,” she said. “I let them hug me.”
Click through the slides to see Lupita’s stunning cover shoot photos.