'Most Beautiful' Lupita Nyong'o on Her Life-Changing Year

VIDEO: Lupita Nyongo Is Vogues Newest Cover Girl

(Photo Credit: Vogue)

Lupita Nyong'o's amazing year continues.

The Oscar-winning actress looks gorgeous in a purple-and-red Prada dress with a huge smile on her face, in her first-ever Vogue cover.

Certainly, the Mexican-born Kenyan, 31, has much to smile about these days.

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"It just feels like the entertainment industry exploded into my life," she told the magazine. "People who seemed so distant all of a sudden were right in front of me and recognizing me, before I recognized them!"

Nyong'o recounted the moment her life changed: right after the SAG Awards in January, when she arrived late one night at the airport and was mobbed by paparazzi.

"For a split second I looked behind me to see who they were flashing at, and it was me!" she remembers. "That was, I think, the beginning of the end of my anonymity."

The pinnacle was, of course, her Oscar win for "12 Years a Slave."

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"I was really nervous about seeing myself in '12 Years a Slave' because it had been such a profound experience in all ways. I remember it being one of the most joyful times in my life, and also one of the most sorrowful. I didn't want my experience to be a vain one. But I will say that when I watched it, my heartstrings were pulled so tight for Solomon [Northup] that I couldn't go into the ego trip," Nyong'o told Vogue of the black man whose memoir inspired the movie. "I cried. I mean, I was inconsolable. I wept for an hour after the movie."

Nyong'o recalled the moment her name was called as being "very confusing, very numbing."

She said, "I was just repeating my name in my head, so I didn't know whether I had said my name or they had said my name! And then my little brother screamed, and time was suspended and it was just noise in my head."

She also remembered thinking: "Don't fall on those stairs," saying "it's not cute if you follow Jennifer Lawrence. It's not cute if you're the second one!"

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After becoming the darling of the red carpet, thanks to Michelle Dockery's stylist, Micaela Erlanger, Nyong'o was named People magazine's "Most Beautiful" person and landed a spot as the first black brand ambassador for Lancome.

Her acting career is also taking off. Nyong'o recently joined the cast of the highly anticipated "Star Wars: Episode VII," and she signed on to star and co-produce, along with Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's acclaimed novel "Americanah," about the African immigrant experience.

Nyong'o's life-changing year has exceeded even her dreams.

"Even in my dreams of being an actor, my dream was not in the celebrity," she said. "My dream was in the work that I wanted to do."

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