Oscar winner and all-around Hollywood sweetheart Lupita Nyong’o is People magazine’s Most Beautiful Woman. The magazine revealed its choice in its annual issue on April 23, where Nyong’o was gorgeously gracing on the cover in natural makeup, a glimpse of a pink dress and a stunning jewel-toned necklace.
The Academy Award winner shared her news of the honor and expressed her happiness on her Twitter account. The Mexican-born Kenyan beauty joins a cast of Hollywood stars who have headed the list, including Julia Roberts, Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise and Beyoncé.
She may have won an Oscar for her role as the slave Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and recently landed a contract with Lancôme Paris, but the 31-year-old actress “never dreamed” she’d be its “Most Beautiful,” adding, “It was exciting and just a major, major compliment,” she said. “I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen.”
The People magazine award has only been given to women of color three times since it was launched in 1990: Halle Berry in 2003, Jennifer Lopez in 2011 and Beyoncé in 2012. Previous winners include Gwyneth Paltrow, Leonardo DiCaprio and Michelle Pfeiffer. This year, Jennifer Lawrence, Mindy Kaling, Pink and Kerry Washington also appeared in the list, which is published in full on 25 April.
“I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman’s freedom to be herself,” the 31-year-old actress said.
Speaking to the magazine about her incredible accolade, the actress explained when she grew up she thought the definition of beauty was “light skin and flowing, straight hair”.
“When I have been called beautiful with not one drop of makeup on,” said Nyong’o, adding, “and also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress.”
She also says that her mother, Dorothy, “always said I was beautiful” and that she “finally believed her at some point.”
“I would never look in the mirror, never, ever,” she said. “One day my mother actually dragged me and made me look at myself and said, ‘Look, you are ashy! You need some lotion!’”
Turns out the Yale graduate did have some beauty issues. “I had very patchy, rashy skin, mainly on my face,” the actress shared with the magazine. “My mother found some remedy in Madagascar, like herbs in a vial. Oh, it smelled terrible – but it worked.”
In February, Nyong’o gave a speech at Essence magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood event, saying: “I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned.”
The actress won Oscar this year for Best Female Supporting Actress for her role in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave”. During her acceptance speech she moved the crowed and inspired thousands of young women who aspire to go where she has gone in her career
“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me, and every little child that no matter where you are from — your dreams are valid.”