The 2014 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honoree and Oscar winner covers the legendary Most Beautiful issue of PEOPLE.

Nyong’o, whose speech on beauty went viral a few months ago, says of the cover: “It was exciting and just a major, major compliment…I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen.”

VIDEO: Lupita Nyong’o’s Speech on Beauty at ESSENCE Event

The 31-year-old actress, whose powerful portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years A Slave had Hollywood buzzing, became the 2014 red carpet season’s “It” girl. And, although she was recently named the latest Lancome ambassador, Nyong’o prefers “when I have been called beautiful without one drop of makeup on.”

PHOTOS: Lupita Nyong’o’s Best Red Carpet Looks

PEOPLE’s annual Most Beautiful issue includes Most Beautiful Women: Then & Now, From Child Stars to Grown-Up Beauties and Most Beautiful at Every Age features.

Click here for more of PEOPLE’s Lupita Nyong’o article.