THE SUPERNOVALupita Nyong'o
By Merle Ginsberg and Laurie Sandell
Dress, $3,460, Christopher Kane
"BEING CALLED GORGEOUS is not a bad thing!" says Lupita Nyong'o, blushing over an omelet, berries, and tea (she doesn't like coffee) at The Carlyle hotel in New York City. "But at the same time, I don't want to thrive on people's opinions of me." Those opinions are nothing but fawning, about everything from her bravura performance in 12 Years a Slave, which won her Academy and Screen Actors Guild best supporting actress awards, to her flawless red-carpet fashion sense.
"I wasn't a follower of fashion," says the 31-year-old, perfectly turned out in a floral top of vintage silk scarves, black pants, and a Miu Miu tailored black coat. "It was a world unknown. Then I met my stylist, Micaela Erlanger [introduced to her by friend and Non-Stop costar Michelle Dockery], and we came to interpret my style: clean lines, strong color. I don't dress to impress; I don't feel that pressure." Nothing seems to ruffle the Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised Yale Drama School graduate. (Except maybe waiting for her category at awards shows. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. It's an internally loud moment. It's not even about the outcome; it's about the agony of the unknown. It's like waiting for test results in a hospital.") If anything, she's enjoying the perks of fame, especially meeting people she's long admired, as any of us would. (But unlike ours, her selfies include the likes of Rihanna, Brad, Jared, and Pharrell.) "I met Sidney Poitier, who has been someone I've looked up to and a blessing from afar," she says. "It was an incredible thing and something that I hold very dear to my heart."
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Now that acceptance-speech season is over, Nyong'o is on holiday after the Paris fall runway shows, keeping mum on her future projects as she gets back to her day-to-day life in Brooklyn. One thing she won't be doing is attempting to re-create or duplicate a magical year. "It was phenomenal," she says. "As brilliant as it was, onward ho. I hope that I will get to work soon. In due time, what I should do next and what I want to do next will reveal themselves. I am not in the business of trying to top this year—that's virtually impossible. I'd have to be pronounced the queen of England or something." —Merle Ginsberg
PROVENANCE: Mexico City
CURRENT RESIDENCE:Brooklyn, NY
BIG BREAK: 12 Years a Slave
SEE HER NEXT IN: "I don't want to jinx it!"
WHO KNEW? At 16, she helped cater a New Year's Eve party to celebrate the millennium. "I should've done something more interesting."