Lupita Nyong’o on Oscars Controversy: ‘I’m More Interested in What Is Possible’

Lupita Nyong'o Oscars Diversity Controversy
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Lupita Nyong’o hopes to use the heat of her career to expand the kinds of stories Hollywood tells on the big screen, the actress told Variety in an interview that addressed the controversy surrounding the lack of diversity at this year’s Oscars.

Nyong’o, who previously expressed disappointment with the 2016 nominations in an Instagram post two weeks ago, seems uniquely qualified to speak out on the issues raised by the #OscarsSoWhite fallout. It was her Academy Award win for “12 Years a Slave” in 2014 that made her one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actresses, with an ongoing role in the new “Star Wars” films and projects cued up including Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe” and “Americanah,” which she’ll also produce.

Speaking days before rehearsals start for her Broadway debut in Danai Gurira’s “Eclipsed,” the actress expanded on her thoughts on Hollywood inclusion and the things she herself can do to move the needle.

“First of all, I feel extremely grateful to find myself in the position that I find myself, and I use the little weight that I have in order to do passion projects and in order to tell stories that otherwise would not be told,” she said. “I also recognize that in the position I’m in, I have the rare privilege of choice as an actress — choice, and the ability in the room to make decisions, which is something that I don’t take lightly. It’s something that I really value, and something that I recognize as exceptional. I’m more interested in what is possible than what is not happening. It’s also about recognizing the world as we see it today and what role I can play to change the world that is there tomorrow, in the kinds of stories that I’m involved in.”

She’s embracing her role in Hollywood’s current dialogue about diversity. “I’m happy that this conversation is happening, because inclusion only happens when we’re all aware that it needs to happen,” she said. “Otherwise things cannot change, if they’re not brought to the fore. This is a conversation that has been happening for a long time, and right now it has a fuel that I hope can only result in an expansion of the imagination when it comes to what stories are viable to be told.”

“Eclipsed,” in which Nyong’o reprises a performance for which she won raves Off Broadway, begins previews on Broadway Feb. 23 ahead of a March 6 opening.

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  1. Fred says:

    There is no controversy. The award goes to the BEST! Sorry, they don’t have a best black category.

  2. Nanny Mo says:

    It’s disgusting. I will never be able to watch her again without thinking that she’s a racist. “Oscar’s so White?” Isn’t that a racist statement? It’s all about race and only race, that is racism. I am very sad that race is all she sees. I won’t be able to see her the same way again. I’m done with racism, so I guess I’ done with people like her. Give her two! Give her ten, it will mean nothing.

    • Braandon says:

      Nanny Mo &Fred, racists always sound the way you do. Never taking responsibility for their part in the racism that exists in this country. It’s you and people like you who maintain racism. Shame.

    • dani says:

      oh shut the fuck up. white people do not experience racism, at all. especially in hollywood when all the roles are given to white actors, even when a lot of the roles they get are meant to be characters of color. people of color are usually never given the opportunity to succeed in this industry like white people are. there has been quite the amount of movies that starred people of color that have received critical acclaim, so where are their nominations? the SAG awards & golden globes were perfectly capable of recognizing them, so the oscars can easily do the same. and keep in mind that Halle Berry was the ONLY actress of color to win the oscar for best actress, which was 14 years ago. so no, its not a racist statement. get your head out of your ass.

  3. bsbarnes says:

    Lupita Nyong’O has set the bar high on this #OscarSoWhite controversy and Chris Rock would do well to keep the conversation elevated in this fashion, particularly on a night when creators who have spent their entire adult lives to achieve this honor are gathered in a live telecast. The chiller the better on Oscar Night, Chris Rock.

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