LUPITA OPENS UP ON HER CHILDHOOD AND HAIR JOURNEY AS SHE GRACES THE COVER OF ALLURE MAGAZINE
Black Panther actress, Lupita Nyong’o graces the cover of Allure March issue and she talked about her childhood, loving herself and career
Read excerpts from her interview below:
On how she feels about her hair
“Well, I didn’t love my hair when I was a child. It was lighter than my skin, which made me not love it so much. I was really kind of envious of girls with thicker, longer, more lush hair. In my tween years, I started begging my mother to have my hair relaxed. She wouldn’t allow it, though her hair was relaxed.
She felt that that was a decision I could come to when I was maybe 18. Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty. My dad intervened and spoke to my mom about my hair, and she finally agreed.
She took me to the salon in the middle of the school day, and I got my hair relaxed. I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable.
I had my hair relaxed for most of my teenage years, and that was a whole other world. The upkeep of relaxed hair is a commitment. It took styling it once a week and then having it retouched once a month. I remember doing crazy things, like sleeping with my head above the headboard so that my curls wouldn’t get messed up for the next day. I’d have these terrible neck aches because I was determined to keep my hair as pristine as possible. And it was super expensive.
When I was about 18 or 19, I didn’t have a job or anything, so it was really my parents paying for my hair. So I was once asking for some more money to get my hair done and my dad joked, “Why don’t you just cut it all off?” And a few months later, I thought to myself, Why don’t I? I went into the hair salon, and I said, “Let’s cut it off.” It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair? He shaved it right off. It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald.”
On her role in Black Panther
“Yes. When [director] Ryan [Coogler] approached me to be in it, he walked me through what he was thinking the story would be about. I remember him finishing his spiel and me being like, “And this is a Marvel movie?” And him being like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “And they said you could make this? Have they green-lighted this idea of yours?” And he was like, “Yeah, I can’t believe it.”
And I was like, “Whoa, that is next level.” On set, it was just such an inspirational experience because so much thought was put into this film, and every single aspect of it was rich and beautiful and just arresting, actually. To see this aspirational African world that actually becomes an example for the whole wide world was spellbinding. We were all very much aware that we were in something extremely special.”
On if fame has changed her at all?
“Well, I have to be just more cautious in public spaces. That’s a big change. What fame does is there is an illusion of familiarity that is cast into the world. So it’s about negotiating with that illusion because oftentimes you encounter people who have encountered you, but you haven’t encountered them. It’s a little weird to find your footing. I have to be aware of that possibility, not imprisoned by it. It’s like, how do I find freedom within that awareness?”
On how she identifies herself
“I find that people would ask, “What are you?” and that means what tribe are you, you know, what ethnic group. That’s the only time I hear the words “What are you” in a Kenyan context. But outside of Kenya, when people ask me where I’m from, I say, “I’m from Kenya.” That’s how I identify, unless ethnicity becomes more of a thing, and then I would say I’m Luo, which is my ethnic group.”
On what her perfect day looks like
“My perfect day is waking up before anyone else and having time by myself to write, read, and get a head start on the day. It’s walking along the beach, seeing the sunrise, and then having a lovely home-cooked breakfast. It’s being with my siblings — actually, my extended family — for a big, fat lunch. And then spending time with my friends, talking. Actually, painting nails.”
April 25, 2018
April 25, 2018