Date of Birth: March 1, 1983
Born in Mexico City, Mexico to parents Dorothy and politician Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, Lupita Nyong'o is the second of six children. Since it was tradition in Mexico to name a child after the events of the day, Lupita received a Mexican name. Her parents, although originally from Africa, were in Mexico as political refugees but before Lupita was even a year old, they moved back to Kenya when her father was hired as a professor at the University of Nairobi. At 16, Lupita was sent back to Mexico for a few months to learn Spanish.
Lupita attended university at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and graduated with a degree in film and theater. She began her film career behind the scenes of a major motion picture by chance. While home in Africa for the holidays from college, Nyong'o found out that the film The Constant Gardener (2005), starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, was shooting in her neighborhood and landed a job as a production assistant through a friend. In 2008 she made her screen debut in the short film East River.
In 2008, Lupita returned in Kenya to star in the MTV mini-series Shuga about HIV and youth in Nairobi. Lupita played the part of Ayira during the run of the show from 2009 to 2012. In 2009, Lupita wrote, directed and produced the documentary In My Genes, which was about the harsh treatment of Kenya’s albino population.
Soon after, Lupita travelled back to the United States and enrolled in Yale’s School of Drama. While attending college, she appeared in several stage productions, including The Winter’s Tale in the role of Perdita, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew as Katherine and the production Uncle Vanya.
Just as she was about to graduate in 2012, Lupita auditioned for Steve McQueen's film, 12 Years a Slave. Although she was just one of 1,000 actresses auditioning for the role of Patsey, she was chosen and made her motion picture debut. The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, received critical acclaim and won a Golden Globe for Best Drama. Lupita herself received an Academy Award for her outstanding performance as well as a Screen Actors Guild award for Female Actor in a Supporting Role.
In Lupita’s second major film, Non-Stop (2014), she played a supporting role alongside Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. She then starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), provided the voice of Raksha in The Jungle Book (2016), and starred alongside David Oyelowo in the Disney biopic Queen of Katwe (2016).
Lupita lives in Brooklyn, New York with her brother.