Her name might be a bit of a struggle to pronounce, but one thing is very clear with new Hollywood starlet Lupita Nyong’o—she’s a star. Thanks to her Critics’ Choice Award win and Golden Globe nomination for her role as Patsey in the acclaimed movie, 12 Years a Slave, she’s getting well deserved attention.
Also up for an Oscar in a few months, Lupita Nyong’o has seemingly burst onto the scene without anyone really knowing who she was before the masterful, tearful award speech at the Critics’ Choice Awards. But just because you may not have known her then, we’re her to tell you a few things about her that will help you out.
12. She Wants Her MTV
While she’s getting plenty of attention for her 12 Years a Slave role, she actually held down a lead role as Ayira in MTV’s, 2009 award-winning drama series, Shuga.
11. Her Dad’s a Politician
As you’ll read a little bit later, Lupita’s dad is quite famous, as he’s a Kenyan politician, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o.
10. She’s a Smart Cookie
After graduating from Hampshire College, Lupita went on to earn master’s degree from Yale’s Drama Acting program. So yes, on top of being attractive, talented and actually being grounded with her new found fame, she’s also pretty brilliant.
9. Whoopi Goldberg Was her Role Model
In her own words, Lupita said about the multi-dimensional actress, “The first time I thought I could be an actor was seeing The Color Purple. Whoopi Goldberg looked like me, she had hair like mine, she was dark like me. I’d been starved for images of myself. I had grown up watching a lot of American TV. There was very little Kenyan material, because we had an autocratic ruler who stifled our creative expression.”
8. She’s Also Still Just a Hollywood Fan
As most of us would probably be with such fast fame, the recent star made a point to hunt down her favorite celeb stars while in attendance at last week’s Golden Globe Awards. Some of her the famous folks on her checklist included Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Chastain and Lena Dunham.
7. She’s the New Face of Miu Miu
With her stunning looks and down-to-earth personality, Lupita is also getting noticed for her chic beauty, grabbing the 2014 spring/summer campaign for Italian brand Miu Miu.
6. She’s Still Young
For all you late-20-somethings out there, Lupita reminds us all that even when you reach the big 3-0, good things can still happen to you. Currently 30-years-old, Nyong’o might not have busted into the big-time until this year, but she’s about to be as big as any star who got fame earlier in their lives.
5. She’s Multi-Talented
On top of being a screen actress, Lupita has racked up a few stage credits as well. Some of her parts include playing Perdita in “The Winter’s Tale,” Sonya in “Uncle Vanya,” Katherine in “The Taming of the Shrew”, and in the original production of “Elijah.”
4. She’s Also a Director
Proving that she could have some staying power, in 2009, Lupita wrote, directed and produced the documentary In My Genes, which is about the treatment of Kenya’s albino population. A full, feature-length film followed eight Kenyans who were were treated unequally because of the lack of skin pigmentation, being looked at as white amongst the black society.
3. She’s Well-Cultured
While one might think she just fell from the heavens in the past year, Lupita was actually born in Mexico—because her dad was actually politically exiled there—and raised in Kenya.
2. She’s Got a Famous Cousin
Not only does Lupita have a dad who is in the spotlight as a politician, but her cousin, Her cousin Isis was named the Most Successful Woman in Africa by Forbes magazine. At just 35-years-old, that’s quite the compliment to the actress’ cousin.
1. She’s Already Thinking Ahead
Though she’s still enjoying the spoils from 12 Years a Slave performance, she’s obviously planning her next roles, too, being pegged to land a gig in Directer Jaume Collet-Serra’ horror flick, Non-Stop, which also stars Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery.
The film is set to release in the next few months in the States.
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images