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Updated: Lupita Nyong'o Options Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Trans-Atlantic Love Story Americanah

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by Inkoo Kang
June 6, 2014 12:30 PM
4 Comments
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Lupita Nyong'o

Update: Since this post was published, Lupita Nyong'o was (finally) cast in the next Star Wars movie and Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, joined D2 Productions. and Potboiler Productions in committing to the big-screen adaptation of AmericanahNyong'o and Pitt co-starred in 12 Years a Slave. 

Let's start with the good news: Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o has optioned Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, an exquisitely intelligent, wry, and heartwrenching trans-Atlantic love story that was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review. If Nyong'o chooses to star in the film adaptation -- and I can't imagine she wouldn't -- she'd get to play one helluva complicated woman in Ifemelu, a foreign student-turned-race blogger from Nigeria who has trouble figuring out her place in American society and desperately misses her first love, Obinze, who is equally unhappy back in their native country. I'd love to see Nyong'o in an everywoman role where her racial identity is an integral part of who she is, but not all of who she is. 

Which brings us to the bad news: This is the only project Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o -- a gorgeous, talented, graceful, and charming actress with an ocean's worth of promise -- has been attached to, other than a voiceover gig in The Jungle Book in which we won't be able to see her face. We all know why she hasn't booked a significant role since she became a breakout ingenue months ago: Hollywood has few significant roles for women, and even less for women of color. It's great that she's become a spokeswoman for black beauty through her endorsement deal with Lancome and that People Magazine "Most Beautiful Woman" cover; but remember, Nyong'o has an acting degree from Yale. I bet she's dying to show us what she's capable of. 

The cosmetics and publishing industries sure are clued into the fact that Nyong'o is luminous and people want to see her. I just wish Hollywood understood this better -- and wasn't so predictably, deplorably unimaginative in its ideas of what audiences want. 

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4 Comments

  • Rosemary | June 1, 2014 1:50 PMReply

    Her Oscar acceptance speech was stunning... In the disconnect between the life of ultra-privilege she has lived (mansions and Yale) vs the reality of average Kenyans who have to survive on the equivalent of USD $2 a day!

    Her father (Peter Anyang' Nyong'o) is a top ranking politician in one of the most corrupt countries in the World. Kenyan politicians voted to pay themselves USD 125,000 a year when the average Kenyan has to live on under $1,000!

    They are some of the highest paid politicians in the World on salary alone...

    What do they make from corruption given Kenyan is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the World?

    Her speed of "for all the little children who have a dream" was a sick joke. She has lived a life of ultra-privilege compared to other fellow Kenyans.

  • Vanessa | May 31, 2014 6:41 AMReply

    It's ridiculous these are the only movies she is attached to. I'm sure Jennifer Lawrence had bucket loads of offers after she won. I think Hollywood needs to stop thinking they need to just write more "black female" roles and just be open minded to allowing actresses of all races to play the characters they want. I just want to see a film like Frances Ha with an actress that is not white. Frances Ha is not a white woman's role, it is a woman's role. This is just an example (I love Frances Ha and Greta Gerwig). It just irritates me that films with black actresses have a lot to do with racial issues.

  • EM | May 30, 2014 4:27 PMReply

    YASSSS. If this makes it all the through to production and all goes well and it gets a solid release date here in the U.S. I WILL DEFINITELY BY THE FIRST ONE IN LINE TO SEE THIS. Go Lupita! I hope this works our and doesn't just end up being a shelved project.

  • EM | May 30, 2014 4:29 PM

    *all the way through to production.
    *definitely be.
    *works out.
    Lol, I was so excited I forgot how to spell for a second. I've been hearing whispers of this happening for a while. Glad to see she is taking charge of her own path as an artist.

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