burst on the scene last year for her gripping performance as the slave Patsey in
's heart-wrenching adaptation of Solomon Northup's life in "12 Years a Slave." And her performance paid off big-time with her first
Award nomination and win.
Nyong'o took home the female actor in a supporting role award for her film debut after graduating from the Yale University School of Drama's Acting Program.
Holding the statuette backstage after her win, the soft-spoken actress said the role was a lesson in distance. "I couldn't sentimentalize the pain that I would have to go through," the Kenyan actress said. "I had the privilege of going at it in an imaginary world. Being aware of that made it very doable. Not to say it was easy. But I was privileged to do so."
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She told of how slavery as an institution has affected more than just the United States: "And it's still an issue today. It's definitely a very apt subject to think about and consider."
Nyong'o's performance also earned a
Meanwhile, Nyong'o's look off screen has caught the eye of fashion critics who note her simple yet bold choices. She donned a teal
Yet fashion choices aren't high on the actress' radar.
"I don't feel pressure because for me, my first love is acting. That's where my focus is. I have the opportunity to learn about the fashion world, and I appreciate it as an art form.… But I never want it to take over my acting."
Before starring in McQueen's film, Nyong'o acted onstage in "The Winter's Tale," "Uncle Vanya" and "The Taming of the Shrew." Nyong'o will next star in Jaume Collet-Serra's February thriller "Non-Stop" alongside