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The Respectability Politics of Lupita Nyong'o

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by Zeba Blay
March 7, 2014 10:19 AM
102 Comments
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Lupita

Ahead of last weekend’s Academy Awards, The Hollywood Reporter published a feature on the anonymous comments of Oscar voters who explained with “brutal honesty” the reasons behind some of their picks. Instantly apparent was how many of the observations seemed arbitrary, or petty, or completely off-base. In the Best Supporting Actress category, one voter made the horrifying observation that Lupita Nyong’o had allegedly “brought sexuality” to her role as a victimized slave girl in 12 Year’s A Slave.

 

There was another who implied that all the “commotion” over her in recent months was simply because of the amount of “empathy and sympathy” that her character draws out from audiences, as if that effect on the viewer had nothing to do with her skill as an actress and everything to do with the fact that she was playing a slave. All unsurprising estimations from the 94% white, 76% male voting Academy.

Another voter’s remarks, though, especially stood out, pointing to a thread that has become a large component in Lupita’s meteoric (and ultimately well-deserved) rise from hardworking unknown to A-List it girl. The voter’s assessment was not just of her performance in the film, but her performance off screen. He (or she) commended the actress for “handling herself impeccably” during awards season, adding:

“She has acted like a movie star: she looks great, she is grateful, there’s no pictures of her drunk at some party. She’s played her part well.”

It may seem harmless on one level, but the comment is enormously telling. It highlights not only the politics that we are all vaguely aware of when it comes to who does and doesn’t get the Oscar, but the politics of respectability that have, for better or worse, colored so much of Lupita’s attention and success. Because what if Lupita hadn’t played her so-called part so well? What if she had been snapped drunk at a party? What if she wasn’t Ivy-League educated, poised, articulate, calculatedly and well-styled, full of such earnest awe and gratitude? And more importantly, what “part,” exactly, is she expected to play?

Consider last year’s it girl, Jennifer Lawrence. Much of Lawrence’s charm, what has seemingly endeared her to fans and voters alike, is the fact that she’s beautiful but brash, clumsy, outspoken, quick to drop an f-bomb or flip the bird, and unapologetic about her love of sports and junk food. If Lupita had exhibited those characteristics, if she were less poised and less stylishly presented, would she garner the same appreciation that she’s been getting? Would she still have won the Oscar? The ideal answer would be “Yes, of course.” But the thing about the ideal anything is that it doesn’t always reflect reality.

For better or worse, Lupita’s beauty and persona have become incredibly politicized. She’s ultimately a positive figure, standing as a reminder of the power of representation. During her childhood she was inspired to act by Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple, thirty years before that Whoopi was inspired to act by Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek. And today, as she revealed in her moving speech at Essence’s luncheon for black women in Hollywood, she’s received messages of gratitude from young, dark skinned girls who feel empowered to embrace their complexions the way Hollywood has embraced hers.

But there’s something to be said for the exotification of Lupita, and the heavy burden that all the attention she gets, so much of it hinging on her singular beauty (by Hollywood’s standards), has brought her. There have been other black actresses who look like her, but few have come so close to the potential of true leading lady, true A-List star. Perhaps part of that is down to the fact that she isn’t African-American, but Kenyan, a fact that only further exotifies her and distances her from the so-called baggage that comes with black American actors. Perhaps part of it also has to do with the role which introduced her to us - is Hollywood subconsciously in awe that she is not Patsey, or more specifically a Patsey of the 21st Century?

Lupita is the “right” kind of (dark) black woman for Hollywood. Her aesthetic, though different than anything we’ve ever seen before, is digestible because its wrapped up in a package that makes people like the Oscar voter feel comfortable, unthreatened. Which isn’t to take anything away from her - her impact is sorely needed, and important. Hollywood already has a problem with showcasing black actors and telling black stories. Perhaps she could change that. However the question is not only if its prepared to accommodate Lupita’s presence, but if it’s ready to open doors for other women who look like her. In other words, how much impact can Lupita even make?

As writer Janell Hobson recently pointed out in an essay titled ‘Black Female Too-Muchness,’ the problem is that Lupita has been propped up as a sort of exception to a rule, a standard to which all other black women, especially those who look like her, are held. Earlier this week, there was a controversial cartoon released depicting a little black girl with posters of Lupita plastered across her bedroom wall, while posters of Nicki Minaj are stuffed into her trash can. By denigrating Minaj and putting Lupita on a pedestal of exemplary black womanhood, the artist, and those who share the sentiments of the cartoon, do not only Minaj but Lupita a disservice.

Ultimately, the politics of how Lupita Nyong’o has been received are largely out of her control, as were those final votes that allowed her to walk onto that stage last Sunday and into Academy Award history. Yes, Lupita is amazing, talented, and beautiful, but as her star continues to ascend there’s a sense that the near saint-like status that we’ve all been complicit in could be damaging somehow. The activist Janet Mock’s words in her memoir Redefining Realness may speak rather aptly to Lupita’s condition now, the condition of being the exception to Hollywood’s rule. “Being exceptional isn’t revolutionary,” Mock writes. “It’s lonely.”


Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York. She runs a personal movie blog, Film Memory, and co-hosts the podcast Two Brown Girls. Follow her on Twitter @zblay.

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102 Comments

  • WALA | April 29, 2014 7:58 PMReply

    and just to add, let's STOP treating Lupita as a victim. I'm astonished at how there's always a flurry of writing analyzing every single reference of someone who happens to be black - and what that means. Lupita is not a victim. Being celebrated as she is being, is something we shouldn't be spending so much time criticizing. Let's just be happy for her, can we?

  • Osiris Munir | May 2, 2014 5:11 PM

    Thank You..

  • wala | April 29, 2014 7:50 PMReply

    i think it's precisely because Lupita doesn't carry herself as a black person first, that people tune in to her as a person and embrace her. And i don't mean to knock African Americans and the experience of being black in America, so please bear with me as i elaborate. Being Kenyan myself, i can tell you that i have had conversations and friendships with white people that i'm convinced they would not have with an African American. Why? Because my perspective is very different. When a white person is not nice to me, racism is the furthest thing on my mind. Why? Because my personal experience is that people can decide not to like me because they are having a bad day/ because of my gender/ social economic status/ religion/ education...and you name it. THAT has been my personal experience - that people will hate. They will find SOMETHING. So if one day they pick my skin color as a reason, i'm able to shrug it off easier as a Kenyan living in America, than an African American would. An African American's experience with discrimination, unlike mine, has racism as a very prominent and overwhelming component. Lupita, like myself, did not grow up thinking about being the only black person in the room. That is simply not a part of our consciousness, and i guarantee you that other people pick up on whatever cues we send out that communicate that state of being.

    I think for me, it's interesting yet frustrating when i see articles such as these that view Lupita's experience from the viewpoint of the African American experience. I want to shout out loud "she doesn't fit that perspective". Like Iman, Alek, and Liya, and others, Lupita is black, but it's very clear that she is seen as waaay more than that, and when white people and others deal with her, her being black is obvious but also not the prominent thing about her. It's simply just something else about her - something that makes a total package. And because Lupita carries herself with this in her subconscious, others *see* it and respond. So it stops being about her race and more about her intelligence, fashion sense, education, talent, and you name it. It becomes about getting to know her as a person, not her as a black person. I guarantee you that while racism and other forms of discrimination exist everywhere in the world. They are not as magnified as they are here in the US. As a foreign black person living here, i KNOW that some people will be racist, but it doesn't have the same effect on me, precisely because of my history with other types of discrimination. So for me it's just another thing, another lazy excuse for someone to be hateful, and so my response is not as visceral and i can shrug it off easier. I'm not right, and i'm not wrong...it just is. It's all about our different experiences, and no one way is right(er) or wrong(er) than the other. It just is.

  • Oddmanout7 | April 30, 2014 11:19 AM

    WALA I just love how you feel you can speak for Lupita what her experience is - you two must be BFF! I appreciate you giving your perspective but I would not be so bold as to presuppose that I know what another person feels or thinks simply because we both come from the same country.

  • Hope57 | April 18, 2014 10:56 AMReply

    If you take a good look at Lupita, her beauty is not a different kind than what Hollywood and many others have traditionally cherished: She has large, far-set eyes, a symmetrical, balanced face, small pert nose, lush lips, high cheekbones, and a thin toned body. The only things unusual about her beauty is her skin tone and her proudly wearing her hair short and natural. Otherwise, she is a "classic" beauty.

  • PMF | April 7, 2014 3:35 PMReply

    So happy to have found this blog! Great post again. Lupita has filled our hearts and minds contemplating all that is right and wrong surrounding her recent rise in recognition and reward. My heart's in my mouth as Angela Lansbury, who won an Oscar early in her career, said it frightened her to be so honored at that time. I wish Lupita as rich a career, but historically the roles have not been there for black actresses. The historic competition and animosity between American born black people in whites continues to be a factor in our lives. I hope no one failed to notice that our 1st black president is only 1/2 black and the other is Luo--Kenyan, like Lupita. BTW No representative or stable black presence in the US senate only a black present who emerged fully formed from the head of Zeus or Zgniew Brzezinski or George Tzoros. The answer would be of course real power for black filmmakers -- good luck sidestepping the the Weinsteins etc. making and distributing anything other the usual product.

  • anon | April 1, 2014 12:01 PMReply

    "Perhaps part of that is down to the fact that she isn’t African-American, but Kenyan, a fact that only further exotifies her and distances her from the so-called baggage that comes with black American actors. Perhaps part of it also has to do with the role which introduced her to us - is Hollywood subconsciously in awe that she is not Patsey, or more specifically a Patsey of the 21st Century? "
    Precisely she is NOT a decendent of slaves and therefore has no slave anstry whites will do ANYTTHING not to support aa's they will find the darkest african and put her on a pedsatal before the average aa woman. Dont get me wrong I love her but intresting she descends form the same country as obama -just putting that out there!

  • Chris | March 30, 2014 8:12 PMReply

    Regina King is just a hair lighter than Lupita, has a stellar acting resume (both film and telvision), her range as an actress is dynamic to say the least but Hollywood hasnt given her a moment's notice. We are obsessed with Lupita b/c well, she's drop dead gorgeous, model looks, smart, has a to die for body and killer style team, yes she went to Yale but if her first film were "Bridesmaids"? There wld be no talk of Oscar noms. The film, racism, slavery, obviously those things matter in this case. Is Lupita a star? Yes, but is she the first of her kind? No. Hollywood then, clearly, isnt just abt talent.

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  • No | March 27, 2014 6:26 PMReply

    Astute insight. Marc Lamont Hill was making similar observations on Huff Post Live; he said that he thought that whites were "fetishizing" (turning her into a "magical Negro") because of her poise and charm.

    Well, he was roundly attacked by some black women for trying to denigrate a dark-skinned black woman who is making in Hollywood and that Hill represented blacks (especially black men) who don't appreciate dark-skinned black women, etc.

  • Onyx | March 26, 2014 4:41 PMReply

    Very good article. Since I'm old enough to recall actresses before Lupita came along, let me state that for me, Cicely Tyson was rocking the short afro and stylish dresses. Check out her picture on vintage black glamour on tumblir. It's post 29234627222 showing Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis in august of 1968 (sorry, but the actual link wouldn't take).

    I recall history being made with Cicely on TV as a secretary in the TV show East Side/West Side. And while she didn't win an Oscar for her role in the movie Sounder, that film still holds up today. Yes, there have been actresses who resemble Lupita, (Brenda Sykes comes to mind) and unless you were back in the day, you may not know they were also revered, much like Lupita is today. However I will say that media coverage wasn't 24/7 back then regarding celebrities, so this time period is truly different.

    When I see Lupita, I see yet another talented black woman among a long list of other talented thespians.

  • OMFG | March 30, 2014 5:55 PM

    exactly. i am uncomfortable with the attention she gets in part because it comes across like she is the first and only black woman who is accomplished and has worn her hair like her.

    alfre woodard, lupita's co-star used to rock a twa back in the 80s/90s.

    and didn't viola davis rock a twa a couple of years ago too?

    and there are several blacks in hollywood who are graduates of ivy leagues colleges.

    when i look at some message boards and comments on youtube, there are people who actually act like lupita, because she's kenyan, is showing black american women how to do something - how to be intelligent, classy, well-dressed, accomplished, etc.

    i'm like gtfo. lupita is able to have this zeitgeist moment BECAUSE of the black american women who kicked the door in for her and others. she is not the first, maybe for africans, but for black americans she is not. even she acknowledged in her oscar speech that she is there because of the struggle/story of this black woman who was a slave. oh, the irony of all of this.

  • Lupita simply behaves like the adult she is | March 22, 2014 12:37 AMReply

    So much overanalyzing... Lupita carries herself like many non-American adult women in public life--she behaves like an adult, she's not silly, she doesn't speak like a tween, and she carries herself like a professional actor who takes the profession seriously. Regardless of race, many American audiences commonly see adult women act immaturely. Women in the rest of the world tend to act their age.

  • cyn J | April 18, 2014 9:08 AM

    Plain and simple...let her embrace her moment...you couldn't have said it any better !

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 5:11 AMReply

    EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT article. Had this discussion on Twitter just the other day and so happy someone put it in to words to well.

    Kudos & thank you. :O)

    KAMMs

  • STAAAHHHHPPPP | March 20, 2014 8:51 PMReply

    Half the comments here play into the exact respectability politics the author is writing about, which has NOTHING to do with Lupita and everything to do with how people will only give her the respect she is due as long as she behaves a certain way. Lupita is not doing a pony show for you people; she is being herself, so y'all can stop acting like she's working so hard to impress anybody but Lupita. You are all the ones placing an unacceptable burden on her. Lupita gone do Lupita no matter what you all think.

    That's why I love that she hung out with Rihanna at Paris Fashion Week. They are both amazing black women and do not deserve to be scrutinized by people, white or black, who only see their value in how "respectable" they are.

  • Amanda | April 19, 2014 10:06 PM

    Thank you - so tired of these insecure nonsensical comments. She is simply a Black woman who carries herself with class. everyone who has a problem with Lupita needs to get some and get over it.

  • LL2 | March 20, 2014 9:56 PM

    Thank You! Lupita is being herself and living her life. People need to stop projecting their racial issues onto her.

  • Nita | March 20, 2014 7:47 PMReply

    Jennifer Lawrence's reception is a double edged-sword. Yes, she gets applauded for sticking the finger, being crass, etc, but is that "society" recognizing her as an woman who doesn't conform to the standards of ladihood (a set of rules established basically that purposefully excluded black women during slavery), or is her reception the equivalent of adults going "Aww, how cute!" when I child misbehaves in an innocuous manner? Does the media and Hollywood love Lawrence because she's spunky without posing a serious threat to the status quo? She's white, industry-standard pretty, and a decent actress. She fits the Hollywood mold as the non-threatening ingenue. With that backdrop, white media's going to let some things slide because she's not really threatening to disrupt the system. And, honestly, I find Jennifer Lawrence's behavior to be indicative of her age, if not childish. Lupita is 8 years older, I would hope if she flips off someone in a room full of press, it would be for a better reason than just because. But considering the age gap, I find it incredibly odd that the two women are being compared based on their behavior. If Lawrence is still pulling the spunky clumsy act at 31, her reception would be as warm. Even now, the schtick is getting stale. And would she get as much hatred at Nicki Minaj? Of course not!
    As for Lupita, I've been hearing that she's getting offered roles outside of the typical black actress genres (slave movies, black best friend, black rom-coms). I know there's buzz going around that she's in the talks to being a lead in the new Star Wars movies and novel based flick about a Nigerian-born student adjusting to going to college in the US. Regardless of respectability politics, which you rightly pointed out is out of her control, if these rumors come to fruition, she's going to be breaking the mold and allowing room for other non-white actresses to get a chance at diverse roles outside the norm. And I see her situation different than Jennifer Hudson and Mo'Nique because their careers went into radio silence almost the day after the Oscars, no casting rumors or anything.
    And isn't it always the case that when one Black woman succeeds another is torn down? Nicki Minaj gets a lot of flack for her so-called vulgar image, but rarely anyone in main stream media recognizes her incredible business savvy and lyrical talent. Black women aren't allowed to showcase or talk about their sexuality or to swear and be outspoken. But it also seems like we're penalized if we are humble, soft spoken, or demure. If we're the former, we're "ghetto" and "loud" sluts. The latter and successful? Well that's because we're playing into respectability politics. It's a lose lose situation until the Black community learns to accept both and those in between and stops putting so much weight on the white reception. How that can be done when white males hold a majority of the power in the entertainment industry is the real challenge.

  • PMF | April 7, 2014 3:46 PM

    I think it's important to point out that for every Jennifer there are a Kesha or Miley. The Lupita and Nikki comparison is can be seen in that light. We may feel the sting of racial discrimination less by doing so. No one's mentioned that the nominated men were also mostly African.

  • LL2 | March 20, 2014 9:35 PM

    I agree it does seem like a lose-lose situation regardless of what path a black woman takes to success in this society. However, I think the major issue is an internal one. Yes, Lupita and other black woman have to deal with not having the same opportunities as their white counterparts but that is not why people are writing articles like this about Lupita. They seem to be projecting their own personal experiences with race onto Lupita. Maybe the person writing this article has not had the experience of having a relationship with a white person in which they were treated with respect and genuinely felt they could trust the white person therefore, they are suspicious of how Lupita has been embraced by the white mainstream and don't trust it cause they can't relate to it. However, Lupita might very well feel differently. She went to Yale where holding on to a general suspicion of white people and their motives towards her would be detrimental to her social life and make her experience there very miserable. And looking at two of her closest friends both white males, one of which she thanked in her Oscar speech and called a member of her chosen family, I think she's able to not allow racial issues impact how she relates to individual white people. People can sense if you are uncomfortable around them and your discomfort will in turn also make them uncomfortable around you. In the end, I think Lupita's ability to easily relate to people regardless of race, enabled her to be embraced by the Hollywood and eventually the media. When she was at the Golden Globes and other similar events, she went around to a lot of her fellow actors introducing herself to them and taking pictures. She was comfortable in her own skin and as a result people felt comfortable being around her. It's as simple as that.

  • Nita | March 20, 2014 7:49 PM

    *would not. Sorry for the errors.

  • Tyson | March 13, 2014 8:30 PMReply

    Great article. Personally I didn't think Lupita's performance in 12 Years a Slave was brilliant or extraodinary. Patsey is a sympathetic character and I believe had Patsey been played by any actress, they would have received a nomination as well. Anyone in that role would have been noticed. I also don't understand everyone saying how gorgeous and flawless she is. I see women like her everyday and there are many women with her look and style who are so much more beautiful than she is. Hollywood mainly focuses on Lupita's over exaggerated and debatable looks and rarely focus on anything else about her. That alone should tell you something. They'll build her up and then tear her down.

  • judith | March 28, 2014 2:51 AM

    @ Tyson, that's all you came to add to this conversation?

  • Lisa | March 20, 2014 9:54 PM

    So because you see women "more beautiful" than Lupita that negates her beauty completely? The fact that none of these other women that you talk of are Hollywood fixtures (and that, being the point of celebrating her beauty) means nothing to you? Is it instead possible that you simply don't find her beautiful because you don't find her "type" beautiful (which extends to other women you say you know. ) In other words, the closer they get to a dark skinned woman, short, natural haired woman, the less "beautiful" they become?

  • LL2 | March 16, 2014 11:08 PM

    Lupita is a grown woman, she can take care of herself in Hollywood. Since you don't see anything special about her, why don't you save your focus for someone you actually care about?

  • T Nails | March 12, 2014 12:34 AMReply

    Get grip people. The reason why Lupita is the lady of the moment is because she's breath of fresh air. She did a good performance in 12 Years. But let's face it, strip a black woman naked and whip her raw, the Academy will be guilted into bestowing awards and ignore an arguably more skilled and substantial performance by Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine". The Academy and by extension white America still see black film roles of gravitas as victim roles. Rarely do they care much for black roles that do not involve white folks as either oppressor or savior. Uhuru why hath thou forsaken us?

    Lupita's off stage performance is what's made her the sensation she is now. Chewitel Ejiefor did far more heavy lifting, yet had no PR campaign to speak of. Perhaps he didn't care as he's well established. Lupita, well spoken and highly educated, epitomizes style and class. In this world of crass, slutty obsessed, vain, trashy, self absorbed and dysfunctional celebrities, I think the public has been yearning for someone who seems to have it together both in beauty and brains. Her persona heritage has more in common with Audrey Hepburn than Lil Kim. The pedigree of a global star.

    All I hope now is Lupita extends her talents beyond the victimography that seems to define "Academy worthy" black female performances and gives us truly triumphal performances that say more about the human spirit than her dark hue. In short, someone please cast her in something where she plays someone who takes control of her destiny.

    What can I say, I'm tired of the black punching bag films where the morality of whites is determined over the bodies of blacks. If Hollywood or Lupita should ever revisit the slave genre, let it be Harriet Tubman or Nat Turner.

  • T Nails | April 30, 2014 9:06 PM

    Lisa, you are right. Her performance was exceptional (though not the best IMO). The main issue I have is why do "important" black roles in America so often fit the victim / white savior paradigm from Amistad, Blood Diamonds, Precious (light skin saviors) to TYS, to Danaeris in Game of Thrones? Enough already. I'm hoping Lupita can break from that mold. And it's through victimography that America feels we must bestow awards. It's the way Americans mix up victims for heroes whenever's there's a catastrophe. I frankly found TYS boring. Passive characters do not stand the test of time.

  • Lisa | March 20, 2014 10:03 PM

    To be honest, the only thing I liked about the movie was Lupita. I think Black people don't see her role as that special because we can all identify with the feelings. We say "all she did is cry and scream and react" but the truth is because we didn't see acting is the reason her performance was as deserving of an Oscar. When acting looks easy is when it's being done exceptionally well.

  • Burp | March 11, 2014 1:42 PMReply

    I agree with the article. I know what it is like to be exotified by non blacks. I hear all the time from folks "your not really african american your guyanese/jamaican" as if my cultural experience separates me from the race which I belong to. What does that mean? That in america my experience of being a afro-carribean black will be separate from black americans. I don't think Lupita's experience will be any different from the most successful black women of america. She is still black at the end of the day and thats how "America" will view her at the end of the day. That fact that she is of Kenyan decent and of darker skin may add even more fodder to the basket of cultural stereotypes.

    I would say that it is time hollywood would recognize us for roles outside of the stereotypical roles which blacks often play

  • Burp | March 11, 2014 1:25 PMReply

    very good article once again….thanks

  • LL2 | March 10, 2014 10:09 PMReply

    Don't articles like this which analyze and dissect her contribute to the problem? At the end of the day, Lupita is a human being living her life just like all of us. Let her be. We all have expectations to live up to that may or may not be fair. That's life. I wish her all the best and I'm going to take ownership of my role in the problem by refusing to click on any more articles that analyze Lupita as if she is a research topic and not a human being.

  • judith | March 28, 2014 2:57 AM

    You're so right, LL2

  • Troy | March 10, 2014 1:52 PMReply

    Journalists more so than authors often toe the line of common decency often causing reviewers and commenters to cross said toe'd line in order to respond. Many comments ignore Zeba Blay is Ghanian born. She also advocated no women be denigrated to which many commenters spouted their support of denigration of people they disagree with. The politics of white males with a visible track record of closeted thinking being analyzed in reference to Lupita made some commenters think that the author was finding reason to cast doubt on her success. How dare the author use a quote of a transgender it proves that she has anti-Christian, anti-conservative and pro-liberal bias that she is trying to make Lupita victim of. I love this site many well define stereotypes and tropes that are thought to only exist in non-black people are revealed to be very vibrant and alive in the non-monolithic black race. The vitriol between the diversity of sensibilities in the black community is more vast and more sexually based than any fiction literature mega-verse similar to Octavia Spencer, Orwell, or George R. R. Martin. Art should imitate this life where people disagree with people they agree with because they cannot read their facial expression through their words.

  • LL2 | March 10, 2014 10:20 PM

    Whatever the writer's ethnicity, the fact remains that she is using Lupita as an object for her ideas and theories on race in America. I'm a fan of Lupita but I still see her a human being and I can't help how she might feel reading this article which analyzes and dissects her as if she some lab subject in an experiment of some sort. Lupita isn't a research topic, she's a human being living her life. All this analyzing feels morally wrong to me on some level.

  • guest | March 9, 2014 9:42 PMReply

    @SAADIYAH

    Sorry, but if you remove Halle Berry's sex scene from Monster's Ball she doesn't even get nominated. That's a fact. It was, by far, the most graphic interracial sex scene ever filmed for a mainstream Hollywood film.

  • squeesh | March 20, 2014 8:08 AM

    Actually, MONSTER'S BALL was an independent film, produced by Lee Daniels (of PRECIOUS and THE BUTLER) you'll never see a scene like that in a Hollywood film,anyway.

  • saadiyah | March 10, 2014 2:15 AM

    So what it was graphic (not the first on film either)? Black people are some of the most prudish(backwards is more like it) and hypocritical when it comes to sex and Black women!

    We aren't going to agree on this.

  • Donella | March 9, 2014 3:45 PMReply

    Lupita is Mexi-Kenyan.

    Though both her parents are Kenyan and raised her in Kenya, she was BORN in Mexico and still holds Mexican citizenship and spent time there as an adult. Lupita identifies as both Mexican and Kenyan and therefore, so should you.

    Lupita also deserved the Oscar that she won based on the hard work she put in training for the role, the endurance she showed on set, and good sport she was in promoting the film.

    I don't support your effort to throw shade over her sunshine.

    Your issues with Lupita are a personal reflection of you.

    Not her.

  • judith | March 28, 2014 3:06 AM

    @ Donella, for a minute there I really thought that you were going to say she won the Oscar because she was Mexican, itsch! Too much! Besides, what has the citizenship on her passport got to do with the fact that she's black, in Hollywood, and politics of Hollywood, which is the topic of discussion? @ thanks for your response Parolar, on point!

  • sheena | March 20, 2014 8:29 PM

    What shade? I think you misinterpreted the article.

  • parolar | March 17, 2014 2:46 PM

    Please watch her interviews. She identifies as Kenyan. She's whichever identity she chooses, not your personal opinion. Your passport isn't your identity. Welcome to the global 21st century.

  • Just Passing By | March 9, 2014 3:20 PMReply

    I think Blay makes some interesting points. Some on point, others not so much.

    " There have been other black actresses who look like her, but few have come so close to the potential of true leading lady, true A-List star."

    Part of what makes any Actor -- male or female -- and A-list star is being involved in a project, like "12 YAS" that people are genuinely interested in, and discussing ad nauseam. And not many actors of any race get the opportunity to play roles that keep audiences talking, thinking, contemplating, or even digging further into a subject matter months AFTER they've seen said film, or play. Having the opportunity to play Patsey is, partially, what places Lupita, immediately, on the A-list. ... I mean, arguably, the last actor to capture the imagination of audiences with such a portrayal is Daniel Day Lewis for last year's "Lincoln."

    I agree with Random Commentary that when you start to think about some of the other black NAME actresses that we're familiar with in the states, it's difficult to imagine any of them in the role for a number of reasons. The main one being her aesthetic. Lupita DOES look like most enslaved women of the time period. As does Adepero Oduye. We cannot deny McQueen's casting was on point, and that Lupita did an amazing job capturing the spirit of Patsey.

    As far as respectability politics are concerned, Blay appears to be projecting her own issues with decorum and how Lupita carries herself onto Lupita. What's wrong with being respectable, and articulate, and well-spoken and humble, and having grace and poise? I would certainly much rather see the media fawn and clamor and talk about, and given ink to Lupita than Minaj, who, as the elders used to say, is "not keeping in line with being a credit to her race." Minaj is a walking minstrel show, shilling for dough.

    And finally, I don't believe J Law is getting a pass, as the author implies. Perhaps, its simply the proliferation of a 24/7 media and social media cycle that makes it seems this way. ...

    I would posit that Whoopi Goldberg was -- and remains -- the black equivalent of Oscar nominee/winner to Jennifer Lawrence, to a small degree, in terms of how she carries herself.

    Whoopi is someone who has never played by the rules, and chooses to be herself, no matter what anyone thinks. To some she is a poor dresser, tacky (Read: Black Face at the Friar's club with Ted Danson) and a rather tasteless rube, in terms of how she carries and conducts herself in public -- outside of the realm of comedy. She's certainly never been known as a fashionista, much less a role model, but some people do find her charming. ...And she won an Oscar. ... And continues to be herself -- regardless of what others say.

  • judith | March 28, 2014 3:16 AM

    @JUST PASSING BY, I love your sensible analysis. I think Blay started well and lost track of what it was that she was trying to say. Or maybe it was all muddled up in her mind to start with... or perhaps she is still trying to figure it out.
    I would agree with you that some of what the article states is actually true, especially in the first two thirds of the write-up, but the last parts are somewhat dodgy and typical. What is the writer's angle and where is the writer going with this? What is the take-home lesson that we should learn from this? My overall conclusion is that this article that discusses the politics of respectability in Hollywood, is also political in the treatment of the topic. Maybe

  • Random Commentary | March 9, 2014 2:19 PMReply

    Has anybody truthfully looked at the larger picture? Lupita Nyong’o was right-casted for her role in 12 YAS. The same situation with Gabourey Sidibe in Precious. If any other mainstream dark complexion A-list actress played that same role in 12 YAS, the first thing coming out of everyone's mouth would be, "Why a black woman gotta be raped and whipped by a white man in order to win a oscar." (ala Halle Berry's sex scene with Billy Bob Thornton.) The only reason Halle won was because of her sex scene, not because that was her greatest performance. The same situation with Lupita. A virtually anonymous black woman having the atrocities of slavery performed against her. More women looked like Lupita during the actual period of slavery than Kelsey Scott, Storm Reid, Vivian Fleming-Alvarez, or Alfre Woodard. Because the horrors of slavery are known and Lupita realistically looked closer to the truth, black's and white's accepted what they saw on the screen in agreement. She rightfully won an oscar for her performance and more than likely will be type-casted hence foward.

  • squeesh | March 20, 2014 8:16 AM

    Oh,please---Halle won because she gave a good,going against the grain performance--hell,she's had sex scene in other films, I'm sure----I wish people would give the woman credit for being the talented actress she is, and stop claiming that she only gets by on her looks,or because she's mixed (as if anyone could actually tell that just by looking at her---you can't--I sure as heck didn't know at first.) The other poster's right, though--she should have won something for Losing Isaiah---I always thought that was one really good performance of hers that was totally overlooked at awards time.

  • T Nails | March 12, 2014 12:47 AM

    I truly doubt she'll be typecasted as you predict. I say this because her sophisticated public persona is far more well known to the public than her role as Patsey. When people talk of her, the image they have is the well polished, educated and beautiful woman she is. And they know it's not an act (further testimony to her acting chops in 12 YAS). She is such a rare combination of intellect, beauty and ambition that I predict she lands roles that redefine how Hollywood cast black women. And I hope through all of this she holds onto to her natural beauty and avoids the fakery that seems to define so many of Hollywood's ingenues.

  • RANDOM COMMENTARY | March 10, 2014 11:03 AM

    @ SAADIYAH

    I actually liked Monsters Ball when it came out. I honestly didn't think the movie would win anything until Halle actually won. In all honesty Sean Puffy Combs should have won for best supporting actor.

    Halle's first oscar could have been for best supporting actress in Jungle Fever.

    Her second oscar SHOULD have been for Losing Isaiah.

    Her third oscar could have been for Gothika. She played completely against type. In a role very similar to Charlize Theron in Monster. I know one movie is fiction the other based on real events.

    Morgan Freeman said it best. They typically don't give you an oscar for the role you deserve. They give you an oscar because you can only be nominated so many times without winning.

  • saadiyah | March 9, 2014 6:51 PM

    Great comment. Lupita looked the part perfectly. However, I think a number of African-American actresses could have played the part. For some reason McQueen chose Lupita. Maybe it was cultural affinity or something. Or she brought something special to Patsy that the others didn't. He made the right choice since Lupita delivered an Oscar winning performance!

    I disagree with your statement that Halle only won for her sex scene in Monster's Ball. That is absolutely ridiculous. Her character was not the first Black woman on screen to have sex with a White man! Halle gave a great performance throughout. The last scene when she realizes who her "new man" really is was haunting. I still remember the look on her face.

  • Realdiamond | March 9, 2014 10:48 AMReply

    From my viewpoint, this article is not diminishing her performance at all. It is about how the Oscars voters base their vote on things other than the actual acting in the movie. Respectability politics is a game played by PR firms and others for and against artists, and it is just one of the games Hollywood plays. Yes, Lupita is not the first woman of color with style and grace who could have won an Oscar, so why haven't the others one is the question.

    These"games people play" may also be the reason other great white actors have not won for their great performances.

  • boomslang | March 9, 2014 8:33 AMReply

    I wasn't *hate reading* this post , however the tired argument about caucasians loving Africans instead of the homegrown Africans *cough* Americans , truly does my head in .
    Maybe we should spin this up a little. Care to explain why there has never been a leading african lady in any of the successful african american movies ? Because I don't remember seeing one offered a part .

    I'm sorry to inform you that 3/4 of the people commenting on this article have a reactionary reverse racism , and they are holding Lupita hostage.

    Oh and about Nickie Minaj , yes she belongs in the trash can . She is a bleached up jive talking puppet .

    And nobody has ever seen a black girl with Lupita's features ? WTH! ? she is from Mars ? or are you looking at Lupita with a confederate camera lense .

  • bluntposter | April 25, 2014 1:03 AM

    I'm sorry to inform you 3/4 of the people commenting on this article have a reactionary reverse racism, and they are holding Lupita hostage.

    You got a point because the tension often goes both ways. I can see how the argument about Africans getting special treatment can get annoying but to be the devil's advocate, this observation has as much truth as your reverse racism observation. If/When African American women were/are given preferential treatment in films outside the US in other industries where there are talented home grown blacks, the homegrown native blacks of that area and honest US blacks would probably question that too after a while if they felt it was a pattern- even if they liked the actress in question; and, they would have a legitimate gripe if there was a pattern whether they have the bias or not. The author of this post is "not a multigenerational US descended native African American," she is more recent Ghanaian American, so if she sees this along with some AA's, this suggest that her critique and the critique of others may come/stem from more than just a place of hate and still have a grain of truth. I don't rule out that black moviegoers are not tough critics or that "reverse racism does not factor", but it also seems to be the case to me- that in most places, in and outside the US, blacks from "somewhere else"often get treated better/have access to better opportunities than the local blacks whether this is US blacks who immigrated to someplace else or non-native US blacks from elsewhere who come here. In defense of the immigrant, they often "do" have skills/strategies they bring to the table (therefore they have limited if nothing personally to apologize for), they "don't" make the rules, and I personally am team Lupita "regardless", but often times I think this idea of exceptional model blacks from somewhere else-OFTEN THROUGH PARTIAL OR NO FAULT OF THESE INDIVIDUALS mind you-is at least a slight slap in the face to locals if homegrown talent with similar drive and similar qualifications is already there. It may also put undue pressure on the person from somewhere else to live up to over the top standards. I do think that in certain cases, local folks should intensify and sustain systematic support of local stuff if they want improvement if their support is not strong enough to put a dent in the problem they see or do what they need to do on their end if they don't, but sometimes still there is a ring of truth to observations however harsh, politically incorrect, annoying or uncomfortable; and,downplaying it does not often make it go away. In response to any jealousy from reverse racism, if the person brings skills and has the qualifications, they deserve success and still rock regardless so the jealousy misplaced or not is still somewhat nullified-truthful or not.

    As for Nicki Minaj, even though I am not a stan and I do not think she belongs in the trash, b no, I do not want to see "just" flashy entertainers with racy images either. Everybody can't be model paragons of virtue either, so I hope to see all kinds of women. It takes all kinds to make a world and people are people, strengths, flaws and all. Plus some of the images we want to see are probably getting made more and more, it just that the stuff made is probably outside of cinema theatres. Indie black films may be our best bet to focus on more than Hollywood.

    That said, I am still team Lupita anyway if her acting was good; and, find it refreshing to see a beautiful darkskinned woman with talent and class to boot. She worked hard to get where she is at so she deserves it. As for her looks being substandards by some, to each his own, but what she represents is still a step in a constructive direction so cheers to her however imperfect her looks may be.I personally felt that there were two Sudanese models, one with the last name Ajong(?) along with the African girl in the Jay-Z music video that were prettier than Alek Wek but Alek still rocks because she put a face to black beauty in mainstream upscale magazines which will keep the door open for future dark skinned beauties when I am not all too sure "some" African American magazines/media venues would promote this type of beauty either. I have no particular magazine/media venue in mind but if this observation fits, here's looking at you.

  • ugh | March 20, 2014 8:44 PM

    If you don't want to call us African Americans then just say generational black Americans. Like, wtf even is that all about--our ancestors did come from Africa. You think they were born on slave ships? In America if you aren't white then you're expected to hyphenate, but you act like that crap is our fault. You are rude as hell.

    I don't have much to say about whites loving Africans over black Americans, but I do think we face different kinds of discrimination from whites and can have very different experiences with racism. Nationality, ethnicity, class, and skin tone affect how all of us are treated and it's not a damn competition.

  • squeesh | March 20, 2014 8:21 AM

    Give Nicki a break---she's not being anybody but herself, and I wish people would stop slapping that outdated 19th stereotype (minstel) on her---it's the 21st century--it's about time we let some of these slavery-era words go! Minaj is self-made, runs her own career---so what if she's loud,outspoken and dosen't play the nice girl--she's far more interesting the way she is, even if she plays it up for hype. I'm also sick of this comparison bwt the "good black girl" and the "bad black girl". At the end of the day, they're both black women and regular human beings, no matter what they do. Neither one should be pressures to be perfect at all in the first place.

  • T Nails | March 12, 2014 12:56 AM

    I see "Lupita's" everyday in Brooklyn. Bout time people recognized. That said, Black American directors/producers are every bit if not more complicit in the dearth of dark skin principle ladies. Just look at the casting in Spike Lee and Robert Townsend movies. If I were from outer space and the only reference I had to Earth was through TV and movies, I'd think one of the ways to differentiate black males from females would be that the females are lighter. This fakery is perpetrated in just about every black produced TV or movie (BET, I'm calling you out). The irony, it's been white produced movies/TV that launched the careers of most dark skin principles (Alfre Woodard, Whoopi, Cicely Tyson, Tyra Ferrel, Grace Jones, etc). I'm hoping Lupita will have black American directors smell the coffee so to speak.

  • saadiyah | March 9, 2014 7:13 PM

    So much of your post is spot on. I have been hearing how White Americans see Africans as superior to Black Americans for years now. I personally haven't seen any evidence to back this up. However, like you mentioned I can't recall any Black American movies that have included Africans (or Blacks from other countries) in their cast. Even movies like "Coming to America" used Americans to play Africans. ALSO the portrayal of Africans (or other foreign Blacks) in Black American movies tend to highlight or exaggerate their "strangeness or otherness", similar to White movies. Black Americans have their biases against and negative stereotypes non-American Blacks too! I wish people would stop acting like AA are more open-minded and accepting of other POC.

    I know not all Black Americans see Lupita's features as uncommon or unattractive, but there are some that do. I've been in the company of AA who have exclaimed, "Ooh he/she is BLACK!" when seeing someone of Lupita's complexion...even if that black-skinned person is American. Lupita's complexion, hair length, hair texture, and body shape is sadly outside of the norms for Blacks (in many places around the world) in terms of beauty. The enslavers and colonizers did a number on all of us! So yes it shocking for some Black people to see her being lauded as BEAUTIFUL in the media.

  • a | March 8, 2014 4:01 PMReply

    I think the problem many people have is the uncomfortable feeling that if Lupita was born and raised in Harlem with black american parents, we would not be givng her a second thought. Her undeniable beauty would not be discussed. She would be invisible.

  • jeni | March 17, 2014 5:30 PM

    @T Nails: Finding your point hilarious because Lupita was trained at Yale, which is in...America.

  • T Nails | March 12, 2014 1:12 AM

    It's not because she's African or not Black American, that everyone's talking about her, it's because she's a class act and talented. Trust me, if she were the Nigerian entertainer, Dencia, we'd be dismissing her. McQueen auditioned just about every black ingenue in America. He chose Lupita because she brought it.

    There is a certain style of American acting, with blacks or whites, that many directors find a bit lacking. Hence he cast Brits and Africans as most the principles. Granted Giamatti and Sarah Paulson were the only strong American performances, McQueen's casting choice, and perhaps all the British and Australians cleaning up at Oscar time is not so much an indictment on African American performers but the entire American way of training actors. Except for Peter Dinklage, you don't see any American actors being hired to perform with a British accent.

    This being a period piece, you need actors with good training instead of just being personalities. It's no wonder that most of the British and Australian actors that have pretty much become fixtures at the Oscars all have rigorous conservatory training and are not singers, rappers, models or reality stars that someone thought would be bankable on the big screen. They have higher standards. Lupita comes from that level of training.

  • Lela | March 10, 2014 2:57 PM

    @A: Unfortunately, that's probably true re the media. Their "exceptional othering" with talented blacks who don't have black American roots (while ignoring people with less exotic backstories and two black American parents) might as well be called Obama-ing.

    But good for Lupita...I hope she uses the attention to the utmost advantage.

  • Mark W again | March 9, 2014 12:51 PM

    The screenwriter is American and so is everyone in the cast except Chiwetel, Lupita, Michael, & Benedict, THE STARS WHO CARRY THE MOVIE, and the DIRECTOR. If you don't consider that a potential indictment of black American ability (particularly by white Hollywood), then here, have a drink, I toast your bliss.

    (not even going to discuss both mcqueen and chiwetel being married to non-black women. if you don't see a statement there anywhere, i need some of your rosie glasses.)

  • Mark, Please | March 9, 2014 11:39 AM

    The screenwriter is American and so is everyone in the cast except Chiwetel, Lupita, Michael, & Benedict. Don't even.

  • mark w | March 8, 2014 4:56 PM

    Interesting theory. In continuing with that, if you really look at McQueens cast and McQueens politics, the movie can really be seen a big, fat middle finger to all black Amercians and black American filmmakers: "Screw you all, you don't have what it takes to tell your own story, dipsh**s."

  • Theo | March 8, 2014 2:47 PMReply

    why are certain people (african americans in particular) trying so hard to tear this girl down and diminish her? they have been brainwashed to a point that when someone as naturally beautiful as lupita comes along they can't accept. you should be proud of her and celebrate her, and try your best to ensure that she has as big a career as some one like jennifer lawrence, instead you try and find negative things to say about her.

  • what? | March 20, 2014 8:47 PM

    Nobody is saying negative things about her. Where are y'all reading this???

  • Jona | March 8, 2014 11:35 AMReply

    Wow, yet another fellow black American playing the Yankee card. Why can't you just accept that successful black women exist in other countries, and that black women can behave respectably because they ARE respectable (and they are not trying hard)? I mean which is it? We are upset when black women stereotypes are displayed in the media, now we are supposed to be upset when we see a black woman in the media who goes against every stereotype? What will satisfy the majority of us? Why are we looking for things to complain about just for blog hits?
    Celebrate Lupita. She should be a role model for every young black girl to look up to, American or not. Along with Ursula Burns, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Nancy Wilson, Phylicia Rashad. Stop caring about what white people think and celebrate the classy, educated, respectable black woman (regardless of her nationality). Celebrate respectability because there is NOTHING wrong with BEING RESPECTABLE FOR YOURSELF!!!

  • T Nails | March 12, 2014 1:21 AM

    Felicia,

    I hear you regarding all the other great actresses you pointed out. But none of them had done the red carpet so flawlessly as Lupita. Not even the white ladies. The media is celebrating a woman who is poised in interviews and makes a fashion statement dress every time she goes out. She's Audrey Hepburn all over again. Known for her off screen presence as much as her on screen. Even if she never lands another movie role, I guarantee she'll have a cosmetics contract.

  • T Nails | March 12, 2014 1:16 AM

    Tell it.

  • Mark & Darla | March 8, 2014 3:04 PM

    Just plain craziness among black people nitpicking at Lupita achievement.

  • Felicia | March 8, 2014 2:24 PM

    and True, I wasn't tearing her down. I'm very glad she won; she absolutely deserved it.

  • Felicia | March 8, 2014 2:17 PM

    Actually, being or not being American has nothing to do with my list. The list was just for example purposes. And it was not exclusive to Americans, for example, Naomie Harris is British. And I think Nia Long and Nicole Beharie, while both born here are of Caribbean descent. My point was only about how it seems the *media* is treating Ms. Nyong'o as if there have never been poised, graceful, talented black actresses before her...and there have been.

  • True | March 8, 2014 2:10 PM

    Well said Jona.. well said. And who cares if she isn't the first? She was in a movie that got tons of critical acclaim and won film of the year. It's her moment.. of course she's going to get tons of attention. If other Black American actors didn't get the same light for their works, that's not her fault, and certainly no reason to tear her down or blame the media. This petty divise mentality is what keeps Black folks back. Black is Black.. stop tripping just because she's not American.

  • Amanda | March 8, 2014 1:55 PM

    Thank you Jona. I agree with you completely. Lupita carries herself with a sense of self-respect that is admirable irrespective of skin color and gender. I understand how divide and conquer is played and that African-Americans are treated as second class citizens in their own country however it seems as if it is threatening when non-american blacks are successful and the immediately correlate the success of foreign blacks with only their being foreign negating the fact they may have transcendent qualities.

  • Felicia | March 8, 2014 1:25 PM

    The thing is, as wonderful as Ms. Nyongo was in 12YAS, it often feels like the media is acting as if she is the only beautiful, well-educated black actress who has ever existed...what about Sanaa Lathan (also Yale DS), Angela Bassett (Yale DS), Viola Davis (Julliard) or more recently, Nicole Beharie (Julliard), Naomie Harris (the well regarded Old Vic Theatre School in the UK), etc. And outside of that list of drama school grads, there are other black actresses who have shown as much grace and beauty and talent--when given the opportunity, which unfortunately has been rare--such as Nia Long, Regina King and until recently because of Scandal, Kerry Washington (though I think she was a Drama major in college). It isn't the "Yankee" card. It's more like "she isn't the first" card.

  • Mark W | March 8, 2014 12:14 PM

    Totally agree with Jona. But until black women stop wearing blonde wigs on their heads, I'm afraid we're all wasting energy.

  • Rocket | March 7, 2014 8:16 PMReply

    Congrats to Lupita. I hope she can actually parlay her win into a very rewarding career.

    With that said, my fatigue with the her coverage is starting to kick in. I know we aren't supposed to say that but I will. We get it. She's regal, respectable, and not like the rest of those others. The message has been sent.

  • Solid E | March 7, 2014 7:51 PMReply

    Congratulations to Miss Lupita. The door to fame and fortune is wide open for her. I just hope the quality of screenwriting in Hollywood can match her talents.

  • QBN | March 7, 2014 6:18 PMReply

    I have no problem denigrating Nicki Minaj while praising Lupita. There is nothing praise worthy about Nicki Minaj. Stop projecting your issues onto Lupita.. she's probably just being an extension of her real personality, yet this is not "powerful" or "revolutionary" enough for you. Is it too much to just be happy for the sista without making up "issues" to worry about?

  • Bforreal | March 8, 2014 8:44 PM

    Yup. I completely agree. Thank you.

  • new black | March 7, 2014 4:43 PMReply

    It's more than possible that she'll make it. Can we celebrate her and not wait for her demise? My God. White girls DO NOT have to deal with their community waiting to tear them apart. If you're worried for Lupita, pray for her! We give too much power to society and history and the past, even as we analyze its parts.

  • Bread-Free | March 7, 2014 3:32 PMReply

    Could we not encourage the mainstreaming of trans persons? Janet Mock with Laverne Cox are not black women. They're mutilated men in drag with a large dosage of female hormone and a lot of unjustified self-righteous delusion. Please for the sake of actual biological and God appointed black women let's not pretend they're because they're black.

    Before you come at me some kind of way. I am a black gay man. And the mainstreaming of trans persons is cause for concern for everyone. This isn't some for the sake of the children diatribe -- all that biological black women have endured to birth us and nurture us I refuse to embrace this new normal. And I won't be left behind because the trans argument if fully embraced will bring down the rest of civilization because other groups will outrageous and unreal claims will pop out the woodwork to justify their new found loophole through trans acceptance.

  • Duped | March 7, 2014 5:19 PM

    @BREAD-FREE I completely agree with you. I like Ms. Blay's writings, but she lost some credibility with me by not providing full disclosure of Mock's true identity. I am certain that I, like many, if not most, S&A readers wouldn't have known Mock was a man, if you hadn't pointed it out.

    What the HELL does some transgender man have to do with Black women? Or Lupita Nyongo's ascent to Hollywood royalty? Black women have enough shit to contend with, without one of our own now trying to lump transgender men into the mix.

  • Lisa | March 7, 2014 5:09 PM

    Get you evil, TERF ideology self out of here, with your Trans phobic vitriol. God don't like THAT shit. And it don't make no damn difference if you are a gay black male. Who the hell are you to come up in here and spew that mess over a Trans BLACK WOMAN's body and thinking? WHO are YOU? As many homophobes are out here saying y'all are this disgusting mess and that you come in here and drag down two very amazing Black Trans Women. Dude no! Go away you hate filled person.

  • mantan | March 7, 2014 3:27 PMReply

    this just proves that anyone can write an article about anything, even if there's nothing there or new to write about....

  • Nikki | March 7, 2014 2:06 PMReply

    Reading some of these comments, you'd think that the article was about Jennifer Lawrence vs. Lupita or it's about attacking Lupita. Maybe I misinterpreted it :-/

    Anyway, NO ONE is perfect and EVERYONE has their detracters. I do have to say before we say Lupita has a high pedestal to uphold, she has to get there first. Yes she's won an Oscar, but so far she has no films lined up. Nothing! I mean she has to have a career first. I'm just waiting to see what her next role is.

  • LAUREY | April 10, 2014 9:09 AM

    Just pray she gets to portray storm in the next X-Men. Would definitely be interested in seeing an interpretation of storm with natural hair. Or Lupita Nyong'o with a white weave. Whichever, though I'd be a tad less excited with the latter.

    Then again, I wish her best of luck and hope she finds good roles in her future. Of course, if all goes wrong, she'll be always welcome to be an African film star. Though if you take time to read up on her, I think you'd agree with me that she's not all just acting, she has done a lot of great things in her past. She's directed a documentary about albinism in Kenya. I especially knew her first from an MTV mini-series she acted in called Shuga, it was a phenomenal mini-series that I think deserves discussion when talking about her.

    People are so preoccupied with her well deserved Oscar win and they seem to forget that she's been doing a lot of things before that. Heck I can assure you she hasn't been sitting around waiting to be cast in a blockbuster to become the next big thing. This is someone who is no stranger to the industry. Sure, she's viewed as a newcomer to Hollywood, otherwise I think she already had something going for her beforehand.

    In the near future, I would like to see her taking on directing, from all the speeches I have seen her in, I get the feeling she may have some interesting stories to tell herself. She also appears to be a great public speaker. I think it doesn't really matter what happens at this point, I think she has a lot of great things she will give to the world.

  • squeesh | March 20, 2014 8:27 AM

    If you bothered to check, she's already in the new Liam Neeson actioner, Non-Stop.

  • jess | March 7, 2014 1:41 PMReply

    I thought a little about this issue earlier this week when I found out that she's 31. She presents herself as being so overly humble and girlish--I didn't think she was older than mid-20s--that I wonder if this persona developed as a coping mechanism for a foreigner in America trying to carve out a path past the doorkeepers of Hollywood and the Ivy League, or if this is her everyday M.O. I've seen it with educated expatriates of African and Caribbean descent in the corporate world, and it is a smart (though limiting and ascetic) strategy for moving forward in your career in the short term...but does it add up to any REAL power in the end?

  • jess | March 10, 2014 2:45 PM

    You need to re-read what I wrote. I think you have a comprehension issue.
    African and Caribbean cultures are "more authoritarian?" Based on what? Sounds like a stereotype with no supporting info to me. Some of the most outspoken people in Black America's history had Caribbean roots.

  • Amanda Williams | March 8, 2014 2:08 PM

    Not everything is race first for people coming form the Caribbean and Africa. African and Caribbean cultures are more authoritarian - you are expected to be humble and more self-effacing - it is not a "strategy". Its culture. That would be like me saying Americans are more arrogant as a "strategy". When in fact American culture is driven by a greater degree of individualism. African and Caribbeans are not only this way asians are as well and it has to do with culture and how certain behaviors are seen in those cultures. Not all American behavior is viewed positively by non-americans.

  • Writer | March 7, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Why are you comparing a woman like Lupita who is

  • Writer | March 7, 2014 1:27 PM

    Sorry, not sure what just happened with my comment.

    Anyway, Lupita is 30. Jennifer Lawrence is younger. Lupita has a Masters not sure if JLaw finished high school. Why compare the two at all?

    Let's see what happens with Lupita's career before we start tearing her down.

    She doesn't need Hollywood's validation. She's going to be okay. I wish we would stop projecting our issues on her. She is not African-American and only started living in the States once she went to college.

  • Valerie | March 7, 2014 12:58 PMReply

    This article is EVERYTHING! Of course its endearing for Jennifer Lawrence to act like act so unlady like but no actress of color will ever be able to attain A-list status, and behave the way Lawrence is acting. Oh the double standards! Every black actress that has won an oscar has faded into obscurity. With only minor achievements in the hear after. I don't understand why people praise her for "keeping it real" isn't Lupita doing the same thing?! How is sticking up the middle finger and displaying crass, behavior, keeping it real? I'm sure Lawrence is a nice girl, and she's given a few great performances, but how does she get a pass?

    Oh I know, because she's WHITE.

  • Tiffany | March 8, 2014 9:50 AM

    "Every black actress that has won an oscar has faded into obscurity." Hmmm. . . have to disagree. Whoopi Goldberg had some of her biggest career milestones after her Oscar win. The real issue is that many of the black actresses that have won Oscars have played roles that are so steeped in pathology that it is hard to break away from the image that they portrayed. Whoopi was someone who showed her diversity as an actress before she and after her win.

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