“I didn’t know that Steve had been looking at and had auditioned over 1,000 women, I had no idea,” Nyong’o said. “For me it was just a role that had been put before me and it was a chance for me to practice my auditioning skills, which is something you didn’t get much of at Yale.”
Nyong’o not only scored the role in “12 Years a Slave,” she owned her performance as the abused and forsaken slave Patsey. She said she was stunned when it was her name that was announced at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress.
“It’s easy for people to think I’m a shoe-in. They have nothing to lose or to gain from it. So you can always see clearer when you’re not in the hot seat,” she said. “It’s agonizing and then they said my name and then I wasn’t sure if they said my name or I’d said my name.”
Nyong’o garnered more than 20 awards for her performance and the awards circuit allowed her to flaunt her unique style, what she called “classic with a modern spin” and “vibrant,” on the red carpet. For the Oscars, the biggest night of the awards season, Nyong’o opted for a stunning powder blue Prada gown.
“I like to dress and have a sense of humor,” she said. “Just something that makes you smile and doesn’t have to be something people see but it makes you smile.”
This is certainly Nyong’o’s moment in the spotlight, and for now, she is enjoying the ride.
“I’m aware that it can’t last,” she said. “I know that there is ebb and flow and this is a great time in my life. ... [but] I’m more concerned with right now. There’s a lot to do, a lot to figure out, and I know I want to be some place warm and I hope I’m still smiling.”