Essence magazine’s 7th annual Women in Hollywood Luncheon honored Lupita Nyong’o with the Best Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in 12 Years A Slave.
Upon receiving her award from Alfre Woodard, the new actress gave a moving acceptance speech about beauty and her struggle as a child with self-hate, beginning with a letter from a fan thanking her for her presence in Hollywood as a dark-skinned woman:
“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.”
Nowadays, the rising Hollywood star is a symbol of dark beauty and making that, too, acceptable.
“I remember a time when I too felt un-beautiful,” she admitted to the room full of her peers (add photo gallery here). “I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin.”
She even revealed the prayers and deals she would make with God if he would do grant her the ability to wake up with lighter skin. However to her dismay, at the time, “God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.”
Read her full speech at ESSENCE, and flip through more pics of Lupita at the luncheon.