What Will Hollywood Do With Ms. Nyong'o?

by Rochée Jeffrey

Like just about everyone else, I'm obsessed with award-winning actress, Lupita Nyong'o. Obsessed! From now on, I will only refer to her as Lupita (because superstars only need one name). If you're not familiar with Lupita, you should know that she has recently experienced a meteoric rise to success and fame as a result of her tour-de-force performance in "12 Years a Slave", one of the most critically-acclaimed films of 2013. She's also the subject of adoration because she's flawless in every sense of the word.

Lupita has a special place in my heart because I recently spent two weeks in her hometown of Kissimu, Kenya where I heard the locals speak with great pride of their hometown girl. Not only is Lupita the pride of Kenya, but she's also the pride of so many black people around the world. I have friends in Nigeria and Jamaica who have shared with me their adoration for all things Lupita.

For the past couple of weeks, I've attempted to wrap my head around all of the excitement surrounding Lupita and I have come to the conclusion that her prominence is revolutionary. Her existence calls into question every white beauty myth that has ever existed; she's unabashedly black. From her dark skin to her short, natural hair and full lips. In her, we see the beauty of our mothers, aunties, sisters, friends and ourselves. We see in her our ancestors, in all of their unadulterated glory.

Beyond her beauty and her remarkable fashion sense, it's obvious that Lupita is incredibly talented. She's not only talented, but she also appears to be intelligent, graceful, humble and charming. One would be lucky to have one of those attributes, she seems to have them all.

There's no question in my mind that Hollywood has stumbled upon a new superstar. My only question is: What will Hollywood do with Lupita?

This question is of utmost importance to me not just as a black woman and a Lupita stalker fan, but as someone who has a vested interested in the entertainment industry.

Last week I arrived in Los Angeles with a couple of suitcases, a few dollars and a dream of being a screenwriter. I uprooted my life on the East Coast because I want to make films and television shows that feature the talents of women like Lupita and myself. I landed in LA on the same day the Oscar nominations were announced, and I learned that Lupita was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for "12 Years a Slave".

I'm glad that the Academy recognized Ms. Nyongo's incredible performance. I'm also skeptical that Hollywood will allow her star to shine as brightly as it should, because as we are well aware, there is a dearth of roles for women of color in the film and television industry.

I've spent many years being frustrated with the entertainment industry's lack of diversity, and I have resigned myself to fact that Hollywood will not change unless WE change Hollywood by creating these roles for ourselves. Banging on the door of the industry and demanding that they tell our stories and feature our talents is simply an exercise in futility.

I've always been a vociferous critic of Tyler Perry's work, but the truth is that he has created a space for black women in Hollywood. He didn't sit around and complain, he went out and created the work, built the reputation and as a result, he's established a formidable platform. The director of "12 Years a Slave", Steve McQueen, also created a path for himself in the industry.

Instead of challenging Hollywood to embrace us, let's challenge ourselves to find new and innovative ways of breaking into the industry. Let's challenge ourselves to create our own industry. I truly believe that it can be done. Until then, I look forward to the day when Lupita Nyong'o is a worldwide superstar, and I will work diligently towards creating movies for her to star in.


Lupita Nygong'o Was Gorgeous and Perfect on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Congratulations, Lupita! A List of Every Black Woman Ever Nominated for an Oscar
8 Things You Should Know About Lupita Nyong'o

Rochee Jeffrey is a pop culture addict, new media consultant, and screenwriter/filmmaker. Feel free to follow her on twitter @ithas2besaid.

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