I think we understand that actress Lupita Nyong’o is the exception, not the rule when it comes to gainfully employed actresses in Hollywood. It’s not every day that a woman with her deep complexion and often natural, Black hair is projected onto Hollywood’s biggest screens. And while some might look at her success and view it as a sign that we can end our fight for representation of all types of women, Lupita assured Oprah that that is not the case.
Oprah: Do you think there’s still colorism in Hollywood?
Lupita: Ha! Yes. There’s definitely still a misunderstanding of dark skin. Scoffs. I recently had a makeup artist say to me, ‘Your skin can take anything it’s so tough.’ I have very sensitive skin. It’s just misunderstood. And that then plays itself in so many different ways.
Oprah: This mistaking melanin for steel.
Lupita: And it is not, actually.
Oprah: It is not.
Lupita: The more dark skinned women who are present and working, the better. And I think it’s about there being a change in the demographic behind the camera as well. And that’s how things will truly change.
You can watch this clip of the conversation in the video below.
Long before Lupita ever made it to Hollywood, when she was still in Kenya, she knew about colorism. In promotion of her new children’s book Sulwe, Nyong’o has been sharing the story of people complimenting her lighter skinned sister’s beauty over her own. It was her childhood experiences that inspired her protagonist’s story. Sulwe is also the darkest person in her family and in her school. It’s a position she does not enjoy and goes to great lengths to try and change. But eventually she goes on a magical journey that helps her to embrace her uniqueness.
During the conversation, Oprah also speaks with actress Cynthia Erivo about her meteoric rise to stardom, her role in the upcoming film Harriet and the backlash she received when accepting the role.
OWN Spotlight: Oprah At Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo” airs Saturday, October 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on OWN. The interviews will also be broadcast in podcast form on “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations,” Lupita’s available on Monday, October 28 and Cynthia’s available on Wednesday, October 30.