Lupita Nyong'o: 'Stop Telling Black Women What They Need to Do'

Photo by Getty Images
"I think as women, as women of color, as Black women, too often we hear about what we ‘need to do,’” Nyong'o writes.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

In an essay written for Lenny Letter, Lupita N’yongo describes an encounter she had with a reporter while doing press for the Tony-nominated Broadway play Eclipsed. The reporter asked her, “Why would such a big star choose to do such a small play?”

Related: Eddie Murphy Welcomes Ninth Child

Small play? Perhaps this reporter should have referred to N’yongo’s handy and informational list. N’yongo believes the reporter, and audiences, may place more value in Hollywood roles.

Get Lupita's Sky-Scraping Met Gala Hair in 8 Steps

Related: ASOS and Topshop Take on the Fashion Tech World 

“I think as women, as women of color, as Black women, too often we hear about what we ‘need to do,’” N’yongo writes. “How we need to behave, what we need to wear, what's deemed as too much or not enough, the cultural politics of what society considers appropriate for us and for our lives. What I am learning is that the most important questions you can ask yourself are ‘What do I want?’ and ‘Who do I want to become?’”

Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks & More Earn 2016 Tony Nominations

Wyong’o continues: “The chance to appear in Eclipsed after winning an Oscar was an opportunity to share in the incredible (and too rare) freedom of playing a fully rendered African woman. The playwright, Danai Gurira, has conceived a drama where the only people onstage are women. This allows the audience to be fully immersed in their lives, although the presence of the men around them is deeply felt. So often women of color are relegated to playing simple tropes: the sidekick, the best friend, the noble savage, or the clown. We are confined to being a simple and symbolic peripheral character — one who doesn't have her own journey or emotional landscape.”

Get Lupita Nyong’o’s Look with 4 Hair Ties, Gel and Coconut Oil

“I look at this play and see nothing about it that is ‘small,’” pens N’yongo, affirming that she doesn’t need to justify her career choices to anyone.

WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.

Read More