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Lupita Nyong'o Discovered Her Beauty at 16

Lupita Nyong'o People Magazine Most Beautiful Issue
Photo Credit: Instagram

It's no surprise that Kenyan stunner Lupita Nyong'o was chosen to grace the cover of PEOPLE Magazine's Most Beautiful Issue, one of the most anticipated lists of the year. For a new actress, her accomplishments are rapidly building –– from Yale School graduate to Oscar winner and now newly crowned Lancôme beauty ambassador.

However, the real beauty is in the journey the 12 Years A Slave star endured and she talks openly about coming into her own. "I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful," she shared at ESSENCE's Black Women in Hollywood.Now, Nyong'o shares with PEOPLE the first time, at 16 years old, when she realized she was: "I knew I was beautiful when I was sixteen and a friend of mine walked up to me with a friend of hers, who was a photographer and he was marveled by me," said the actress in a sneak peek Instagram video posted from the PEOPLE set. 

The actress also gave us a look behind the scenes of the epic cover shoot via her Instagram account:

"With the amazingly talented photographer behind my @Peoplemag pics @AlexiLubomirskiphoto"

PHOTO GALLERIES: Look Book: Lupita Nyong'o