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Lupita Nyong'o - Biography

The 12 Years A Slave actress credits Ralph Fiennes for encouraging her acting career

Lupita Nyong'o in a white dress with drop earrings on the red carpet
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
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Lupita Nyong'o's early life

Lupita Nyong'o was born on March 1, 1893 in Mexico City to politician Peter Anyang' Nyong'o and has five siblings. While she spent much of her childhood in Kenya, Luptia's parents sent her back to Mexico aged 16 to study Spanish, which speaks fluently along with English, Swahili and Luo. 

Lupita Nyong'o's career

She then went to study film at Hampshire College in the US, with a view to working in production or directing. In 2004, Lupita was working as a runner on the Constant Gardner for Ralph Fiennes when he asked what she wanted to do. "I very shyly said I wanted to be an actor too, and he sighed deeply and said, 'Lupita, only act if you can’t breathe without it,'" she said.

The actress enrolled in a master's degree in acting at Yale Drama School, and shortly after graduating, she landed her breakthrough role in 12 Years a Slave for which she earnt BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. She has gone on to star in The Jungle Book and Black Panther and released a book titled Sulwe in 2019.

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