The film on everybody’s lips this year has undoubtedly been 12 Years a Slave.  The film kicked off the awards season nicely this week, by picking up a Golden Globe for Best Picture, and there is much Oscar buzz for the film’s director Steve McQueen and star Chiwetal Ejifor. But what of the films female lead, newcomer Lupita Nyong’o?

Arguably, her appearance has been even more impactful than that of her male co-stars,  as we almost never see a Black woman of her complexion up on the screen. With her flawless skin, and short cropped natural hair, she is an inspiration for Black women worldwide.

Born in Mexico of Kenyan parentage, Nyong’o may be a new face to most of us, but like most ‘overnight successes’ she was paying her dues for a while before her big break came. After starring in MTV mini-series Shuga, she went to study at the Yale School of drama where she starred in numerous plays before auditioning for the role of Patsy in 12 Years a Slave.

In an at times emotional interview with cable Tv channel Arise she tells the story of her first break in movies, talking her way onto the set of The Constant Gardener, and how she developed her character on 12 Years .  You can watch both parts here