If you saw Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar-winning performance as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s historical drama Twelve Years A Slave, you will not be surprised to learn that the Kenyan-Mexican actress has a Master’s Degree from the Yale School of Drama.
She wrote, produced and directed a documentary entitled In My Genes, an incredible film about what it is like to live as an albino surrounded by individuals who are darker skinned. The documentary’s revelations create empathy for those who suffer discrimination simply because of a genetic anomaly.
This year I had the opportunity to see Lupita in the Public Theater’s production of Eclipsed, which opened in October 2015.
When I saw it then, I thought that the magnificent and powerful production written by Danai Gurira would most probably be picked up and move to Broadway and larger audiences.
I was right. Eclipsed opened on Broadway to stellar reviews and Tony Award nominations (among other nominations) for the 2016 season. It will continue to pull in accolades. It is that phenomenal.
Part of the reason is its riveting subject matter. The setting is Liberia in 2003, during the Second Liberian Civil War. Unfortunately, in our collective unconscious, war has become something with which we are all too familiar.
Another important fact about this production is that it is the first play with an all-black and all-female creative cast and team to premiere on Broadway, something which was not conceived of 10 years ago.
Revolutions are happening in the entertainment industry, especially in theater, which has trumped the “old boy network” that still haunts the film industry and is proving to be a tremendous liability. Women are joining to establish their own power groups to make up for the unequal representation of women in film.
Finally, the play has earned so many nominations and awards because the acting is powerful and dynamic. The issues the actors nightly bring out front and center impact every one of us whether we like to admit it or not.
The cast, director, and writer of Eclipsed came out to support Nyong’o’s being honored with a caricature at Sardi’s restaurant on May 19, 2016. It is the Great White Way’s prestigious if informal recognition that she has arrived and been embraced by the Broadway community.
Lupita Nyong’o has already garnered many awards, and the caricature (she is impossible to caricature, she is so lovely) is a fun tribute to a very fine actress of whom we will be seeing more.