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

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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