Lupita Nyong’o ‘wept with glee’ over role in Africa’s 1st animated kid superhero series

The actress, also serving as executive producer on the YouTube Originals series, plays the part of Mama Dunia.

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In an interview with People magazine, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o revealed she “wept with glee” over Super Sema, Africa’s first animated child superhero series.

A YouTube Originals show, Super Sema follows Sema, “an extraordinary young girl,” and her twin brother MB as they protect Dunia, their futuristic town, from Tobor, an evil villain. With an emphasis on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — the series helps show young people the worth of those specific studies and the subsequent value and strength that comes with overall knowledge.

Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o said she “wept with glee” over “Super Sema,” Africa’s first animated child superhero series, a show she executive-produces and in which she stars. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

Super Sema is executive-produced by Nyong’o, who, according to reports, stars as Mama Dunia, “the wise tree spirit of Sema’s deceased mother.” The excited actress opened up about the project, her role in it and what about it inspired her.

“This is exactly the kind of show I want to see out in the world, and it’s the kind of show I wish I had when I was a little girl,” the Black Panther star told the magazine. I wept with glee watching a dark-skinned African girl who’s determined, resourceful and has an innate sense of justice on my screen.”

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She called Super Sema “what dreams are made of, really,” maintaining she “was more than happy to support the project.”

Nyong’o also shed light on what children’s programming was available to her while growing up in Kenya, further cementing how powerful and boundary-breaking the animation is.

35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Montecito Award Honoring Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o speaks onstage receiving the Montecito Award during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre in January 2020. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)

“My absolute favorite show was Peanuts,” she said, “starring Charlie Brown. I watched that over and over. Linus was my favorite character, because he sucked his thumb and was so full of malaise, both of which I related to.”

“If science and technology were presented to me in a fun way, maybe I would have felt differently,” the star of Us continued. “I think the show will inspire kids to be curious about these subjects … and the show’s message, which is about applying your mind to solve the world’s problems, is powerful.” 

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As theGrio previously reported, Nyong’o has an incredible interest in children’s programming and entertainment, and she even wrote her own children’s book on colorism. Sulwe, published in 2019, became a New York Times bestseller and follows who Nyong’o described as “a dark skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty.”

Super Sema is up and available to watch on YouTube now, with the finale — featuring Nyong’o — set to drop next month. Check out the official trailer for the series below.

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