Hollywood Star Lupita Nyong’o has for the first time revealed her failure to make it to television in Kenya was because of her ethnic identity.
This, she said, made her ‘uncomfortable’ identifying with her ethnic community -Luo – as a teenager.
In her second interview with Vogue Magazine, the Oscar actress said because of the ‘shame’ attached to her Luo heritage, she felt uneasy speaking in Luo dialect -Dholuo.
â€œThere was a certain amount of shame attached to my mother tongue,â€ she said.
â€œI developed this discomfort in all things that identified me as ethnically Luo when I was a teenager.â€
It did not just end at her ethnic identity, she also couldn’t make it on screen because she was dark skinned. She however swore to fight this other ‘obstacle’.
â€œNo, it didnâ€™t ring true. I just thought, I need to find another way,â€ she said, revealing that her skin tone would also be an issue at Massachusetts’ Hampshire College, which she attended.
‘I realized that my skin color was making some people see me differently,’ Â she said, adding,Â ‘as Africans, we don’t grow up with a racial identity. We grow up with cultural and ethnic identity before racial identity. I never used the word ‘black’ as a child. It was never a thing. When was I ever discussing black? Why?’
In Kenya, Lupita’s famed film -Shuga – was never played on any mainstream television.