Our melanin is magical, but sadly, the western world has not always been in agreement with this belief. Black beauty is not a trend or a fad, issa fact that the entertainment industry has taken decades to catch up to. But thanks to brown-skinned girls like Lupita Nyong'o, who celebrates her blackness in the most beautiful way, the world has no choice but to stop on its axis when a melanated beauty gains her self-confidence.
Jackie Nickerson for Vanity Fair
Lupita recently sat down for an interview with Vanity Fair, where the actress opened up about how she transformed the negative self-image that she's had since childhood into an opportunity to help other little Black girls love themselves. As the daughter of a highly-educated, political family, the now 36-year-old actress soon learned that she had to be the change she wanted to see in the world. She explained:
"I was born into a political family. My father was fighting for what he believed in. I think it was really just instilled in me that there are things in this world that are worth changing—part of living is about trying to transform the world into, you know…the world that we want to be a part of."
But before Lupita could change the world, she had to undergo a transformation within herself. In the past, the actress has been open about her love-hate relationship with her skin, and has now channeled that energy into her latest project. Lupita told Vanity Fair that her new children's book that is set to be released October 15.
The book is centered around a beautiful brown-skinned girl named Sulwe, who "is the color of midnight" and longs to have fairer skin like her mother and sister. In an adorable tale about the magic of melanin, Sulwe, like Lupita, ultimately learned that beauty comes in all skin tones. Lupita told Vanity Fair that Sulwe was inspired by an experience that she had shortly after her industry debut in 12 Years a Slave. In a speech that she gave in 2014, the actress explained:
"I received a letter from a girl, and I'd like to share just a small part of it with you: 'Dear Lupita,' it reads, 'I think you're really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia's Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.'"
In the speech, she also shared that throughout her childhood although her mother constantly reminded her of her beauty, the woman that she saw looking back at her in the mirror just didn't agree:
Jackie Nickerson for Vanity Fair
"I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned."
The actress ended her address with a powerful message about knowing that beauty cannot be consumed and will not sustain you, but it is something that comes from within. After giving the speech, Lupita said that she felt at a loss for words and that it wasn't until Ryan Coogler pitched her the idea of Black Panther that she really felt empowered with the right message:
"I just felt depleted. I was just like, I have nothing more to say. It's all in the speech. 'Black Panther' was the key I needed."
Lupita, who created the book alongside illustrator Vashti Harrison, said that she wrote the book because it was exactly what she needed. When she announced the book on Instagram last year, she wrote:
"I wrote 'Sulwe' to encourage children (and everyone really!) to love the skin they are in and see the beauty that radiates from within."
Take it from Lupita, "No matter how old you are, it's never too late to love the skin you're in!"
To read Lupita's full interview, click here!
Featured image by Jackie Nickerson for Vanity Fair.