On Sunday, Lupita Nyong’o made history by becoming the 7th Black woman to win an Academy Award when she took home the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in 12 Years a Slave.
The Kenya native gracefully took the stage offering the usual thanks and also giving gratitude for those who sacrificed so she could achieve her dreams.
“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey,” she said of the enslaved woman who she portrayed in the film based on the true story of Solomon Northup.
Lupita joins an exclusive group of Black female Oscar winners, including Mo’Nique, Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson and Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to receive an Academy Award 75 years ago.
While Hollywood is showering Lupita with accolades, the Oscar winner recently told guests at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood event that appreciating her beauty was a challenge.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin and my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, is that I would wake up light-skinned,” admitted Lupita who said mother and model Alek Wek helped her see herself in a different light.
“[Alek] was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t,” said Lupita who wants to inspire other darker skinned little girls to believe in themselves.
“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid,” she said during the Oscars.
Watch Lupita’s acceptance speech below.
NEXT: Lupita talks about learning to love herself. Watch>>