[youtube_g-3zc_bX6Y] The Oscars aren’t just about who wins on the big night, they are about a concentrated publicity push for a group of actors and movies. In the weeks leading up to the awards things like cover stories, buzz and fashion can have just as much of an impact on an actor’s career as whether he or she wins a gold statue. Through that lense, the winner of Oscar season is definitely Lupita Nyong’o.
There’s a good chance Nyong’o will also win an actual Oscar. She’s the front-runner in the Best Supporting Actress category for her harrowing work in 12 Years a Slave. Jennifer Lawrence also has a lot of buzz in this category but since she won an Oscar last year forSilver Linings Playbook, expect the Academy to give the award to a newcomer.
The timing of the awards couldn’t be better for Nyong’o. She has a prominent role in the new Liam Neeson movie Non-Stop which hits theaters this weekend. If the film follows in the footsteps of Neeson’s other action movies, like Taken and The Grey, it should be a big hit. Audiences (and casting directors) will see Nyong’o in a very different kind of movie from 12 Years a Slave.
You can be sure that around Hollywood, everyone is talking about casting Nyong’o in any upcoming movie that has a prominent young African American female role. Whether or not she actually wins this weekend, her career is about to take off.
Nyongo’o is the kind of star publicists dream about. She has an exotic background. Born in Mexico while her Kenyan father was teaching there, she grew up in Kenya and went to college in America. 12 Years a Slave was her first job after earning her MFA from Yale School of Drama. She speaks several languages and is confident and well-spoken during interview. Watch how charming she is in this interview with Jimmy Kimmel.
It doesn’t hurt that the 30-year-old has also become an instant fashion star. Her looks during award season have been consistently praised by fashion pundits who are on pins and needles waiting to see what she’ll wear to the Oscars. Here she is in a video on Vogue.com talking about her background and 12 Years a Slave while wearing a gorgeous yellow green dress.
Nyong’o hasn’t yet committed to her next project and it’s likely her team will be very careful with the choice. Although it’s not real, there is the perception of the Best Supporting Actress curse where women who win the award pretty much peak with the Oscar. And there aren’t many good roles written for African American women. One would like to hope that casting directors and studios will cast her not based on her skin color but because she is the best actress for the role in future films. But that might be too optimistic.
One thing for sure, Hollywood is currently in love with Nyong’o. Expect them to show it with an Oscar on Sunday night.
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