Lupita Nyong’o is killing it in Hollywood, and has been ever since she slammed into the scene with her role in 12 Years a Slave in 2013. After that, she’s become more and more famous for her incredible acting abilities, absolutely killer bod, and flawless beauty and grace. Who isn’t out there trying to track down her fitness and skin care regimen?

But there’s so much more to Nyong’o than just her gorgeous looks. The actress, also known for her work in the Star Wars franchise and the Academy Award-nominated Black Panther, is a world traveler who is fluent in four languages, according to The New York Times. Additionally, she’s active in industries other than entertainment, as well as extremely well-educated.

So what is there to know about Nyong’o, who’s successfully stolen the heart of just about everyone in Hollywood? What is it that makes her tick? And what can we expect of the actress in the future, given all that she’s accomplished? Read on to get the scoop on all things Lupita.

Born in Mexico, raised in Kenya

Truly an international woman of mystery, Nyong’o wasn’t born in the United States. Rather, she was born in Mexico City, according to The New York Times, during the time of her family’s brief self-imposed exile from their native Kenya. Turns out Nyong’o’s father is the governor of Kisumu County, and was a critic of former President Daniel arap Moi — hence the exile. Additionally, her mother is the managing trustee of the Africa Cancer Foundation, founded by her spouse, and a public relations consultant. So she clearly comes from a family of movers and shakers!

Growing up with her five siblings in Kenya, Nyong’o was encouraged to follow her passions and pursue her dreams, thanks to her open-minded parents. “It makes a huge difference to have a father who champions you,” she shared in an interview with Marie Claire. “My dad was a feminist before it was cool for men to be feminists — his father too in many ways.” Because of that, Nyong’o was free to pursue a career in whichever field she liked, and that turned out to be acting. The rest is history!

A top-notch education

Coming from such an important family, it’s not surprising in the least that Nyong’o received a top-notch education. After attending several international schools in Nairobi, she moved to Mexico when she was 16 to perfect her Spanish. She stayed there with an older sister for seven months before taking the next steps in her trajectory.

Insofar as her undergraduate work, Nyong’o decided to attend Hampshire College, a liberal arts school in Massachusetts that helped her find her path — even though the environment was quite different from what she was accustomed to. There, “there are no exams, no grades. It was a culture shock,” she recalled in an interview with The Guardian. Fortunately, that freedom was good for Nyong’o, as it gave her the space to explore what she wanted. “I did appreciate it, because I was very indecisive about what I wanted to do,” she continued. “I knew that if I was in a more structured environment, I would end up not taking the risks I was raised to take.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in film and theater, Nyong’o went to graduate school at Yale for acting. Talk about smarts!

Her girlmance with Danai is legit

If you know anything about Nyong’o, you’d know that she’ll give you some serious squad ambitions. One stop by her Instagram page and you’ll see her getting chummy with everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Gwyneth Paltrow to Melissa McCarthy, to name just a few. Jealous yet?

Arguably the most enviable girlmance that Nyong’o has is with The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira, who she has known for — get this — over a decade! The two met in 2007 at the Obie Awards, where Gurira had won an award for her play, The Continuum. After that, they were on each other’s radar, until a unique opportunity arose: Gurira cast her as an understudy in her play, Eclipsed. “I was in that rehearsal room and everything, and I made a promise to myself that one day I would get to play that character,” Nyong’o explained in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “And then it was my Broadway debut!”

Nyong’o received rave reviews for her performance. Thus began a friendship that still endures today, both personally and professionally.

An Oscar-worthy performance

Before Nyong’o was even finished with graduate school, she was offered a role in a major Hollywood film: 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen — talk about hitting the ground running! In the movie, Nyong’o played the role of Patsey, an enslaved woman who is horribly abused by her owner (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Sarah Paulson). So it’s not surprising, then, that the cast had to blow off steam to separate themselves from the violence in the script. “We spent a long time hugging,” Nyong’o explained in an interview with The Guardian. “And we did a lot of dancing. We partied hard. It was really great.”

Additionally, Nyong’o and Fassbender had great chemistry together, which helped them get through the tough scenes. “When we were in it, we were in it, and between takes would leave each other alone,” she continued. “It was like going into a boxing ring. We come, knock each other down, regroup, and at the end we hold hands.” Sounds intense!

Nyong’o performance garnered her an Academy Award for best supporting actress, one of the few black women ever to receive the honor.

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