“Her Talent Was Deservedly Recognized With Her Oscar Award.”: Alek Wek On Lupita Nyong’o’s Success

March 4, 2014  |  


From Essence 

Three days before she won the Academy Award for her stunning performance in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o left the audience at ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon teary-eyed and speechless as she shared her journey to self-acceptance as a dark-skinned woman. “When I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence,” Nyong’o recalled. “My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no consolation: She’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then Alek Wek came on the international scene.”

In her speech, Nyong’o reminisced about the importance of seeing the rise of supermodel Wek, a woman with skin hued like hers. “When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny,” Nyong’o said.

ESSENCE reached Wek to ask how it felt to be part of Nyong’o’s own success story. Here, exclusively, is Alek Wek’s reaction in her own words:

I was amazed and very humbled by Lupita’s words, and I am so proud and happy that her talent was deservedly recognised with her Oscar award.

When I was growing up, my mother taught me and my sisters to celebrate each other — there was no room in our household for negativity. She taught us to embrace each other and this was empowering for us. She also taught us the value of celebrating our differences.

Read more of Alek Wek’s exclusive interview at Essence.com 

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