Lupita Nyong'o won the Screen Actors Guild award for female actor in a supporting role Saturday night for her role as Patsey, a favored but abused slave in Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave."
It was the first nomination for the Mexico City-born, Kenyan-raised actress. Nyong'o was three weeks shy of graduating from the Yale School of Drama when she was cast by McQueen in her breakout role.
Nyong'o defeated Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the unstable wife of a con artist in "American Hustle"; Julia Roberts as the daughter of a domineering matriarch in "August: Osage County"; June Squibb as the reluctantly supportive wife in "Nebraska"; and Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines, the wife of a presidential butler, in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
In "12 Years a Slave," the standout performance by Nyong'o has helped to put the film on many year-end best-film lists. To prepare for the role, in which she is abused by a plantation owner, she visited the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore to learn more about slavery and had intense discussions about the character with McQueen.
"From the moment Steve called me to offer me the part to the moment we wrapped -- and maybe a few weeks after that -- I couldn't sleep. The place I had to go emotionally, the intimidation of working with these actors -- there was a lot going on in my head."
The 20th Screen Actors Guild Awards are being held at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.
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