30 Apr 2018

Lupita Nyong’o believes Hollywood has a ‘gaping hole of representation’

The day-long event convened panels of Hollywood actors and prominent #MeToo activists, such as Amber Tamblyn, Mira Sorvino and Cynthia Erivo, who joined Nyong’o and talked about gender inequality and the importance of diversity.

The Oscar-winning actress took part in a panel called Reclaiming the Narrative and spoke of the industry’s ‘gaping hole of representation’.

Growing up in Kenya, she said that she hadn’t seen any darker-skinned actors on television, and the lack of representation had a detrimental effect on her self-worth.

According to Moneyish she said: ‘I switched on my television when I was younger living in Kenya, [and] there was never anybody that looked like me on there, so seldom. Even when they were black, they were never [that] dark.

‘At the time, I didn’t recognise the deficit because I was able to relate to the Step By Step kids; I had siblings that fought. I was able to relate to the people that I saw, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I started to realise what was missing on that screen.’

She added: ‘Not seeing myself was causing a self-conscious self-hate that I only grew aware of when I was a teenager and started to recognise my insecurities.’

This isn’t the first time Nyong’o has spoken candidly about her experiences with colourism – prejudice or discrimination against those of a darker skin.

During an acceptance speech for Essence Magazine’s Best Breakthrough Performance Award, she dredged up memories of being ‘teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin’.

The Academy Award-winning actress is making her mark on Hollywood and continues to take on a variety of roles, including the new Star Wars sequels and a television adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.

Nyong’o is determined to destroy Hollywood’s beauty standards, and earlier this year, revealed that she penned a children’s book about a ‘dark-skinned girl called Sulwe who goes on a starry-eyed adventure, and awakens with a re-imaged sense of beauty’.

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