Lupita Nyong’o, Kenya-raised Hollywood newcomer fulfilled the rumours floating round the social media that she would win big this awards season in Tinsel Town when she bagged the coveted New Hollywood Award on Monday night at the 17th Annual Hollywood Film Awards Gala.
Ms Nyong’o was honoured for her exceptional performance in ’12 Years a Slave’ in which she co-starred with Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Eji…. and Alfie Woodard.
Receiving the award from veteran actress Angela Bassett, Lupita as she is known to her Kenyan public, was the only award recipient that night to tear up as she gave her acceptance speech. Other Hollywood stars to receive awards that night included Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Matthew McConaughey Sandra Bullock, Juliette Lewis and Chris Cooper.
Lupita is the first Kenyan to become an award winner at the Annual Hollywood Film Awards, but she is the second Kenyan to be a Hollywood film awardee in 2013. The first was the veteran actor and filmmaker Oliver Litondo for his role as Maruge in The First Grader.
The 17th Hollywood Film Awards, which was held at the Beverly Hilton, was the first in a slew of award nights leading up to the grand occasion when the much anticipated annual Academy Awards are handed out to this year’s crop of outstanding actors, actresses, musicians, technicians and brilliant films.
The buzz in Hollywood is that Lupito is likely to win more accolades during this awards season, including one possibly for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. She will be competing against the TV Talk Show Queen, billionaire Oprah Winfrey.
In her emotional acceptance speech, the daughter of Kisumu Senator Dr. Anyang’ Nyong’o thanked her mother Dorothy Nyong’o for her unconditional support. She also thanked her fellow cast members, many of whom are A-rated movie stars, and her best friend Ben. She especially praised her film director, Steve McQueen who had auditioned more than 1000 women for the part of Patsey but had not a moment’s hesitation picking Lupito once he saw her perform the role of the slave girl who had the guts to stand up to her villainous slave master played by Michael Fassbender.
“As you can tell I’m a bit overwhelmed by this [award] but I am also blessed,” she said tearfully. “Thank you Hollywood for championing this.”
Lupita made her Hollywood debut this year in McQueen’s highly acclaimed film ‘12 years a slave’. Rumoured to become this year’s big winner at the Academy Awards, the film is an autobiographic adaptation of the book by Solomon Northup, a free Black man lured into slavery with the false promise of a well-paying job in the US. He was then kidnapped and sold as a slave in Washington DC in 1841 during the height of Southern slavery. President Abraham Lincoln would deliver the Emancipation Proclamation, technically liberating African slaves for another 22 years.
The movie tells the chilling story of how Solomon, a Canada-born free man played by the Nigerian actor Eji…C, was tricked into the humiliating position of being sold on the auction block in the city that would eventually become the capital of the US. The film has stunned American audiences who watched the film premier last Friday night in a few select cities.
The moment of heightened emotion in the film is said to have centred round Ms Nyong’o whose impassioned performance has earned her respect and acclaim from some of Hollywood’s leading ladies and men.
12 Years a Slave will premier across the USA and in film capitals around the world on November first. That is when Lupita Nyong’o is likely to become a household name among film lovers everywhere.
Lupita was born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, educated in Kenya and the US where she attended the most renowned drama school in the country, at the Ivy League university Yale.

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