Latimore: Lupita Nyong’o an inspiration for black women

March 7, 2014 

Growing up as a chocolate drop gave me a complex when it came to being described as what was beautiful according to society. I never felt like I wasn’t attractive because my family served as a dynamic support group -- along with total strangers who would compliment my features as pretty and unique.

However, I didn’t look like what was portrayed as beautiful in the media with my dark skin, big lips and hair texture. Furthermore, derogatory expressions about my appearance were not exclusive to what media portrayed as good-looking or institutional racism. I had to deal with demeaning comments from my own kind with the light-skinned versus the dark-skinned syndrome.

So, as I observed actress Lupita Nyong’o break all the barriers of what defines stunning, it made me feel proud. She’s of Mexican and Kenyan descent and speaks several languages fluently. Nyong’o’s ethnic heritage is Luo from her maternal and paternal sides. Her skills are not limited to acting; she has achieved higher learning to direct film and music videos.

Although Nyong’o made a huge step forward by earning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” she’s been acting and directing all over the world in film and TV thanks to her strong international ties.

Nyong’o has landed at least 25 wins from more than 30 nominations for prestigious awards in her industry. Plus, she helps to empower others by making eloquent speeches at gatherings and workshops.

She is definitely a breath of fresh air for young women of color who may share some of my same experiences. I can’t lie about feeling like my version of gorgeous wasn’t good enough, according to others who have the power to create what’s accepted as captivating. Inside and out, Nyong’o is as amazing and vibrant as her bright, colorful and sleek wardrobe.

I strive to inspire young women from all backgrounds -- especially those of color -- through my actions and success, just like Nyong’o.

Yolanda “Y-O” Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macon’s representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. Contact her at

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