Lupita Nyong'o attended Essence magazine's Black Women in Hollywood luncheon on Thursday, where she was given the award for best breakthrough performance for her role in "12 Years a Slave." There wasn't a dry eye in the house during the actress's moving acceptance speech, in which she confessed that as a little girl, she wished she had a lighter complexion.
She said, "I got teased and taunted about my skin. And my one prayer to God ... was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before."
But Lupita began to accept her darker skin after she saw supermodel Alek Wek. She explained in her speech, "When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far-away gatekeepers of beauty."
Now the 30-year-old hopes that she can inspire young women everywhere. "I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey," she said. "That you will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside."
Check out the video to see Lupita's speech, and be sure to tune in to "The Insider" on TV tonight for the latest in entertainment news.
- Arts & Entertainment