Lupita Nyong’o Inspires Dark Girls with Black Women in Hollywood Acceptance Speech

“I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, black beauty, dark beauty.” – Lupita N’yong’o

ESSENCE_Black_Women_in_Hollywood_LuncheonThe amazingly talented starlet, Lupita N’yong’o, does it again. Not only inspiring through her talent, poise and beauty, she now inspires through the revelation of her painful journey as a Dark Girl in her own words. We are so proud to hear her beautiful testimony of triumph.

Here is an excerpt from her speech, as recorded by Essence:

[…] I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

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 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. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.

And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no [consolation], she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then … Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, 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. But around me the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.

[…] And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.

There is no shame in Black beauty.

Read more at Essence.


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12 Responses to Lupita Nyong’o Inspires Dark Girls with Black Women in Hollywood Acceptance Speech

  1. La'Trisha Cooley says:

    I loved this story, growing up as a young girl who was ashamed of my dark skin I know this pain all to well. God Bless Lupita and Alek for helping pave the way for Dark girls as a movement.

  2. Cameron C. Browne says:

    Thank you for this awesome,TIMELY,NECESSARY post.
    I say this as a ‘BLACK” man.

    • Enjoyed her speech but it is so sad to hear about women of color feeling so unbeautiful. I grew up in the south doing the sixties where blacks discriminated against the darker skin blacks but I than God for my mother who always preached that the color of your skin had nothing to do with your beauty. My family had thin facial features, thin lips-narrow keen noses and dark smooth skin and we embraced it and never regretted being a dark woman of color, but what I do hate is for someone to come up to me and say “You are a beautiful black woman” as though my being black and beautiful is something unique or not supposed to be.

    • quintasha waters says:

      Awesome brother. Thank you!

  3. VIVIAN D. DOTSON says:

    I have a daughter that is dark and beautiful, and she was taunted and teased in school because of her dark skin. It has left a very sore spot deep in her mind. I do my best as a mother to help her feel positive about being dark and beautiful and hope that one day she will believe it as well. Your article is inspiring and I hope that all dark and beautiful women will read it. Be blessed and thank you.

  4. Phumzile Rose says:

    Well said<3<3 so inspired

  5. White people don’t think Black people are ugly either in form or color.They simply say THEY are beautiful, we look and see a different colored skin and hair, a lot less curl in it and ASSUME that because we look far different that we are the opposite, that we are ugly. Not just both but ALL skin colors and type of hair can be and are…beautiful at the same time. Prefer yourself. I remember when neither White’s or Mexican, or Asian woman had any behind at all. Now they all have them. And we know how popular sun tans are. A whole industry has sprung up around getting one. I was told by Cosmetology teachers that the purpose of hair is to “protect and adorn the head”. A bush does that better than flat straw. If you don’t believe me ask people who have walked under coconut trees and been hit by one. And the anti-aging properties of natural melamine is obvious. Scientist aren’t chasing down how to put it in a pill or bottle for nothing. You have got it all girl! Just think about it. Butt, lips, flexible hair, beautiful rich color, everything but the belief! Believe… cause it’s true!

  6. Donna White says:

    I think that was beautifully said. Although, using Oprah for a positive note is beyond me, but that is a personal issue. It is sad that we have to be reassured that being black skinned is not being unattractive. That is a stigma from way back and we “blacks” have to stop saying “beautiful for a dark skinned person”. A dark skinned person should not automatically thought of as ugly because the darkness of their skin. That is ridiculous! Although beauty should shine from within, if you have to see beauty on top, if the person is beautiful, just say she/he is beautiful. Stop saying, “For a dark skinned person, she is cute!” That is ignorant and comes from the dark ages. “We” are not aliens because we are darker. And all white or light skinned people are not, by far, all beautiful. Get it together and open your eyes! Right on Lupita and keep rocking it. You are beautiful, inside and out!

  7. Pingback: Cheers! Academy Award Nominee Lupita Nyong’o Toasts Dark Girls with Black Women in Hollywood Acceptance Speech | This Is Moscato Life

  8. Hillary says:

    This is truly an inspiring story and one which I could relate to both directly and indirectly. As a black woman living in a predominantly white country I often saw how afflicted people of darker shades suffered. It inspired me to write a song titled “Who I Am” aka “Back to Blackness” celebrating all the great things that make us black – our hair, our skin, our fashion. I released it last month in honor of Black History month. My dream is that this song will be the anthem for all my black people out there and even minorities. Feel free to listen and share as much as you wish. It can be heard on my website There is also a free download for the first 1000 downloads so do add it to your music collection as well.

    FANGA! (The Power within)

  9. LaNiecia says:

    As the 12-14 year old girls sat and played the dozens in my office, to avoid the cold at lunch, my heart sank. They teased each other about their short
    nappy hair and dark skin. I quickly told them the beauty in black nappy hair and dark skin and showed them Lupita’s knock out online pictures. I pointed out her natural afro, and how everyone is boasting over her beauty. As they started to sink into deep reflection, a dark skin 13 year old boy stepped in the door. I quickly showed him Lupita’s pictures and asked, “Isn’t she gorgeous?” He shook his head, ” No! I don’t like dark skin girls!” A few of the girls jumped to chastise him. With my heart in the pit of my stomach, I reminded him that he and his mother have dark skin. He shook his head in denial then pointed to one of the only light skin girl. He stated, “She is the right color.” At that moment, I realized the brainwashing and self-hatred is now homegrown and passed on. This is only one image story of the many I hear. I will use this article for my self-love workshop.

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