Lupita Nyong'o | Overexposed and Under-Represented? | Aesthetically Pleasing

Lupita Nyong'o | Overexposed and Under-Represented?

Lupita Nyong'o has been taking over this awards season. Whether she wins or not, she is on everyone's minds and mouths for slaying her professional peers with her immaculate red carpet style and even more tantalizing performance as Patsy in 12 Years A Slave.

She's everywhere right now- talk shows, magazines, blogs. And it's easy to see why. The Kenyan beauty transformed from a downtrodden slave to a runway goddess right before our eyes. She pretty much stole the flawless from right up under Beyonce.

But, all that said, I'm left here wondering, what's next for Lupita Nyong'o? Anyone who saw the movie knows she played the hell out of that role- her talent is not a question.  But is Hollywood ready for black actress of her caliber? It's hard to think of what I can see her in next simply because I can't see where she would fit in to such a biased entertainment arena.

The problem is that we see all these black actors and actresses appear when a "black" movie (one geared toward black audiences or one that tells of a historically black experience) is produced. A lot of these movies are of lesser quality- you know your "feel good movies" that will never make it to an award show like Best Man Holiday or anything that begins with "Tyler Perry Presents." And while the historic ones are usually the ones that are well made with widespread success- Lee Daniels' the Butler or The Help- they bring us all together under the Black banner once again.

In recent years, I feel like black actors and actresses only get all this praise and exposure when they are playing a role in a movie based on history or set in a racially charged time period- Viola Davis/Octavia Spencer in The Help, Michael B Jordan in Fruitvale Station. Yes, these movies have brought important discussions to the mainstream and helped get many black actors to awards recognition, but I don't think they're the key to success. I'll be more impressed when black and other minority actors are able to take on roles and movies that don't have anything to do with their race. It's like a black person cant be on the big screen unless they are protruding their blackness. I want to see minorities playing lead roles in these classic rom/coms our nation so loves, intense stories of drama, and save the day in action movies. We're putting ourselves in a box and our leading minority men and women have a lot more to offer the entertainment industry.

And when parts like the ones mentioned above come about, we always see the same top actors getting them- Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Halle Berry to name a few. All great actors who are well deserving and play fantastic roles, but there are plenty of talented-undiscovered or already known- who could be getting parts like this.

It's a tough situation to be in and a  hard feat to accomplish since behind the set blacks are lacking representation as well. We are in need of just as many people in casting, directing, and production to bring different faces to the sea of White that is the movie industry.

So where does this put Lupita? I think everyone is aware that she is a gem. But, I worry that all the hype surrounding her -that is mostly centered on her appearance- could die out for the simple fact that Hollywood just doesn't know where to put her and can't see beyond her appearance for future roles. Online sources say that Liam Neeson has taken her on board for an upcoming film- so I think shes on the right track. We need more actors and actresses of such a high caliber like her to infiltrate the industry; to help show that the black and minority experience is incredibly varied and does not revolve around cultural molds or stereotypes.

I want to be proved wrong, and I hope I'll be seeing Lupita's face on the big screen for years to come. And if her management team is even half as good as her style squad we need not worry.


What do you think about minorities in the entertainment industry? Where do you see Lupita Nyong'o going in her future career?

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- Anna Son


  1. I first of all want to applaud Lupita for how well she did her role in "12 Years a slave". I think she complimented Chiwetel Ejiofor really well. I agree with the point that you are trying to make regarding the underlying issue with her exposure and sudden popularity. I definitely agree that the more prominent roles for African American actors in movies are given to the same assemblage of actors named above. A notable radio personality made a good point on a video blog earlier this year where he pointed out that there are other black women of similar complexion who have accomplished more than Lupita in entertainment but haven't received nearly the type of praise she is getting. I think a name that was mentioned was Kelly Rowland who has acted in numerous films. In a way I do think it is a slap in the face to the antecedents of Lupita, and I'm sure there are many, but Iike you said there are many African American actors who deserve the opportunities to shine and be exposed to the world for their copious talents. It's atypical in the eyes of Hollywood for a young black supporting actor to have such a conspicuous presence in a major movie. That has to change.

    I for one am sick of the typical "Romantic Comedy" that has been at the epicenter of mainstream black movies. If we aren't wearing a dress flailing a gun at someone we are street thugs. Does anyone remember the abysmal release of the movie "Alex Cross" starring Tyler Perry? Obviously he was trying to broaden his horizons but there are many other black actors who could've nailed that role even with the bad script. Not taking anything from Tyler Perry but what if a younger, more appealing black actor did that role? Would the bad script be overlooked by a good actor with a fresh face like Lupita? We won't know if our African American actors are not given the chance.

    I know Lupita will have a great career but I too hope that African American actors can escape the circumscription that Hollywood as either intentionally or unintentionally set in the way.

    I'm definitely keeping an eye on this long-drawn-out dilemma. John Singleton - who has a reputation for bringing promising young black actors to Hollywood exposure - has finally been given clearance on a movie about Tupac Shakur, so I'm anticipating some new actors for that movie.