Yesterday, we promised to publish more photos of Lupita’s shoot for Harper’s Bazaar.
Here also are excerpts from her interview for the May edition:
Since her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o has been celebrated the world over. She talks to Sophie Elmhirst about the risks and rewards of her meteoric rise to fame.
Between photographs in a King’s Cross warehouse, Lupita Nyong’o dances. Nothing showy, just a shuffle of her hips or a head-nod to the beat of the music in the background. She’s surrounded by people – a circus of agents and stylists and Lancôme representatives (she’s the brand’s new ambassador) all there for her, but she doesn’t dance for them. It’s the kind of dancing you might do while you’re drying your hair, or on hold on the phone; moves only you can see. But seriously, this woman can dance. At one point, she body-pops like a pro, and makes herself laugh with a full-on strut. Mostly, though, she dances in a kind of dream, eyes half-closed, like it’s the most private thing in the world.
‘There was a time when I was afraid to dance,’ says Nyong’o. The shoot’s over, and we’re in an empty café on the top floor of the building. It’s dusk and you can see all of London, to the Shard and beyond, the lights coming on across the city. She has changed out of a full-throttle orange dress and into a black sweater and trousers, as though someone has turned down the volume. Her voice is low; the music’s off; the circus has packed up and moved on. ‘My older sister would dance with abandon,’ she continues. ‘She would do it to entertain. I was so mortified at the thought of wiggling my body in any direction. And I wrestled with myself, because I didn’t want to be so self-conscious. I wanted to be able to enjoy music and not care that I looked cute. I don’t know when something switched in my head, but I’m so glad it did, because I feel like dancing, and being able to enjoy one’s body for oneself is such a precious, precious thing. For yourself, you know?’ She pauses. ‘If this had happened to me at a time when I couldn’t dance – ha – my God, I think I would be way more of a wreck.’
‘This’ is the last two years, one of those trajectories that make you feel woozy with vertigo and that make no sense in any world beyond Hollywood. Nyong’o’s rise has been so fast and so extreme that she’s still trying to figure what on earth happened. In 2012, she was still an acting student at Yale School of Drama. The same year, an audition tape made its way to Steve McQueen, who was looking for an actress for the part of Patsey in his film 12 Years a Slave. Nyong’o got the call, got the part, got the Oscar (for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role). It was her first feature film, still the only film she has released. There had been a relentless pre-Oscars campaign in which she appeared in a procession of gowns that seemed to shout from the red carpet: ‘This woman is going to be huge.’ By the time she was standing outside the Dolby Theatre on Oscar night wearing powder-blue Prada, the world was on first-name terms with Lupita. ‘You know, I thought it would come to an end after the Oscars.’ She means the frenzy. ‘I thought the Oscars would come and go and then all of a sudden everything would be back to normal and I’d be back in my apartment.’
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