Lupita Nyong’o is beautiful.
Not just stunning but drop-dead gorgeous.
Her grace and good looks are matched by her impeccable style. Not only is she the voguish style star on the red carpet, designers are clamoring to dress her.
“Her fashion choices are consistently brilliant: directional, gorgeous, and always surprising yet entirely appropriate,” said Sally Singer, creative director of digital at Vogue.
“I love that she’s become this fashion plate,” said Kelley L. Carter, an Emmy-award winning entertainment journalist. “Everyone’s dying to see what she wears to the Oscars. Everyone is dying to see what she wore on Tuesday.”
As a matter of fact if you measure Nyong’o’s presence in the digital space, Hollywood’s newest “it girl” has, within the space of a few months, become an international style icon.
“Lupita is just fantastically impressive—so beautiful, clever, and talented,” adds Singer. “She’s a Yale graduate and her first major film is by Steve McQueen. What a pedigree.”
Aside from Nyong’o’s exceptional talent, everyone knows the 30-year-old, Mexican-born, Kenyan actress is also creating a stir because she embodies a different interpretation of beauty in the fiercely competitive film and entertainment industry.
“I am very inspired to see mainstream acceptance and reactions to Lupita’s beauty,” said Carter. “I hope her presence widens the spectrum for what we see as beautiful.”
What makes the Oscar-nominated ingénue so utterly irresistible is there are few black women in Hollywood that look like her. And with so much focus on colorism in the black community and the idea that light skin is “better” than dark, Nyong’o’s gorgeous dark skin tone on the Hollywood scene is a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Nyong’o, the breakthrough star of 12 Years a Slave, epitomizes a successful, self-assured woman with a healthy esteem, who is at ease with her skin. This is juxtaposed with the whole skin color narrative or films such as Bill Duke’s controversial documentary, Dark Girls, which puts the spotlight on the challenges faced by dark-hued women.
Indeed, the recent stir over Nyong’o’s photo shoot in the February issue of Vanity Fair (which left some wondering if the magazine had lightened her skin) seems to point to a desire for a broader interpretation of black beauty that encompasses the complete range.
“From the time I saw Lupita I though she was gorgeous,” said Carter. “I grew up as a time when dark-skinned women weren’t seen as beautiful. A lot changed when Naomi Campbell came on the scene. Though Campbell is stunning, there is no denying Lupita comes from the Motherland.”
“We will probably see her gracing a lot of magazine covers,” said Carter. “I won’t be surprised if Vogue is negotiating a cover. I hope Lupita, and the women who look like Lupita, will see this as a shift in how dark-skinned women are viewed. It’s another advancement and redefining what a beautiful woman is.”
Still, there is concern that’s Nyong’o’s overnight celebrity is a short-lived fad.
Dr. Yaba Blay, the co-director of Africana Studies at Drexel University and one of today’s leading voices on colorism and global skin color politics, said she is “uncomfortable this is a once in awhile occurrence.”
“I am waiting to see if this will transcend in more women who look like Lupita, or look like me, in the mainstream media,” said Blay. “People are taking their cue from mainstream media but there are Lupitas everywhere.”
“My concern is that she may be looked at as exotic,” said Carter. “I hope this isn’t a seasonal fad. I hope we’re seeing the dawning of change.”
Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti