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Get Familiar With Lupita Nyong'o's Work Before Seeing Her In '12 Years A Slave;' Watch 'Shuga'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
June 15, 2012 10:04 AM
12 Comments
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'Shuga' - Kenya
'Shuga' - Kenya

The announcement that she'd been cast in quite a meaty role in Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave naturally led some to wonder about her past work, given that, as I noted in that post, looking over her IMDB page, the Kenyan actress has primarily crew credits on a few projects, but little in the acting department. Although on her Twitter page, she lists herself as an actor first, a graduate of Yale School of Drama.

Well, something tells me that Lupita Nyong'o's life is about to change, as more folks become familiar with her name and face.

But let me not get ahead of myself...

What I learned in my digging into her background is that we actually profiled a project she acted in, first in 2010 and then again in early 2011, when it resurfaced. Her name wasn't in any of those posts, but her face most certainly was, which helped shake up my memory, when I Googled her name and saw a poster for the MTV Ignite Staying Alive project titled Shuga (photo above of Lupita with co-stars).

The first Shuga series (comprised of 3 twenty-four minute episodes) was filmed in Kenya in August/September 2009, starring a young cast of upcoming Kenyan actors and actresses, telling bitter-sweet tales of love, loss, sex and relationships, set in the clubs, bars, campuses and other hangouts of contemporary Nairobi - the intent being to give a raw view on the lives of sexually active young Kenyans, and highlight the risks associated with unprotected sex and the careless lifestyles of today's Kenyan youth, told through interconnected storylines.

Comparisons to Stateside MTV series were made, giving it labels like "Real World: Kenya" (it's set in Nairobi, Kenya - locally shot and produced), although it's not a reality TV series. It's all scripted drama, and, as you will see in the episodes below, was very much made for the young MTV crowd (not that that's a bad thing).

Lupita stars, playing Ayira in the first series of Shuga, and she then moved on to co-direct the follow-up, Shuga: Love, Sex, Money.

Watch all 3 episodes below for a glimpse at the abilities of the young lady who'll be gracing our movie theater screens next year, playing Patsey in 12 Years A Slave - a role that I've already said is quite significant, and while all the parts in the film can be described as demanding, I'd say that hers (aside from the star of the film) is probably the most challenging. She has at least 2 weighty scenes in the film, provided the final movie we see stays true to the book, as well as the draft of the script Vanessa wrote about here on S&A.

Watch below.

Episode 1:

Shuga Episode 1 from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

Episode 2:

Shuga Episode 2 from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

Episode 3: 

Shuga Episode 3 from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

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12 Comments

  • moulin | March 3, 2014 3:29 PMReply

    and she won the oscar!! Tambay, u called it.

  • Enomis | October 22, 2012 12:55 PMReply

    Thank you so much for posting this. I found myself weeping after episode 3. I was so touch by all of these peoples lives. Lupita is very charismatic and full of life.
    Thanks!

  • Luce | June 16, 2012 8:33 PMReply

    It's really good. It reminds me a little bit of Aya de Yopougon, the french comic. And as others has said, Lupita is gorgeous.

  • AccidentalVisitor | June 15, 2012 10:48 PMReply

    This may be the wrong spot to place this but considering this is the most recent post regarding (to an extent) "Twelve Years" I felt it was okay to go ahead and do it anyway. Paul Giamatti was quoted with some very interesting things to say about his upcoming work in the film. Here is most of the article: Paul Giamatti has revealed that Twelve Years A Slave will be "grim". The Rock Of Ages star is the latest addition to Steve McQueen's historical drama, alongside Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Shooting will start down in New Orleans this summer. "It'll be interesting. It's a very grim film, a very big contrast to Rock Of Ages," said the actor. Chiwetel stars as writer Solomon Northup, a married man from New York who was tricked and sold into slavery for 12 years in Steve's big-screen adaptation of Northup's 1853 autobiography. Paul has been cast as Freeman, the man who takes possession of the slaves when they first arrive in New Orleans. "I play this real guy called Theophilus Freeman, who was the biggest slave trader in America at the time. His name was Freeman - how ironic!" Paul added. "He did all kinds of things: he trained them to be able to play music and dance so I have a lot of horrifying scenes. It's pretty grotesque. Unfortunately, none of the white people come off very well - it's pretty grim." (link : http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5iXjuyXikAGSzsUjAXgiqjvfZVDSA?docId=N0266361339601989178A)

  • Melissa | June 15, 2012 4:39 PMReply

    Love this series and love her!!!

    Big ups to Nairos, Kenya.

  • Tepnlex | June 15, 2012 3:51 PMReply

    Yes indeed.

  • Lydia | June 15, 2012 3:03 PMReply

    Not only is she gorgeous, she's got screen presence and charisma for days. No wonder she was cast as Patsy. She's got IT quality. She'll make the extreme and obsessive behavior Patsy inspires totally believable.

  • Lavetta Cannon | June 15, 2012 1:29 PMReply

    Nice to see beautiful dark-skinned women in films for a change!!! You go girl:-)

  • Lvflg | June 18, 2012 5:58 PM

    amen to that. you'd think dark skinned women didn't exist...at least not in cinema. kudos Shuga!

  • WOW | June 15, 2012 2:27 PM

    DUMBAZZ WINSTON, Rihanna is a POC. Slaves were a commodity to be used, abused and breed. Through the years of slavery there were many rapist white men, and thus many "Rihannas". Look in the freakin' mirror and read a history book.

  • Winston | June 15, 2012 1:57 PM

    It's a film about slavery; don't you know that's when they go looking to cast us? Who did you think they were going to cast as a slave-- Rihanna?

  • Vanessa | June 15, 2012 10:11 AMReply

    She's gorgeous.

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