Who Is Lupita Nyong’o? 5 Things to Know About the 12 Years a Slave Star
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Who Is Lupita Nyong’o? 5 Things to Know About the 12 Years a Slave Star

Move over, Jennifer Lawrence! There’s a new It Girl in Hollywood taking the red carpet by storm, and her name is Lupita Nyong’o. But we’re not just crushin’ on this starlet because of her awesome sense of style — although, that tangerine cape dress really did take our breath away — she’s also incredibly talented and has a sense of humor, which automatically puts this Oscar nominee at the top of our girl crush list.

There’s so much to love about Lupita, but there’s also a lot we don’t know, so let’s take a closer look at the breakout star of 12 Years a Slave. Because if you weren’t already rooting for her this awards season, you will by the end of this list.

1. She was a world traveler at a young age. Lupita was born in Mexico City, where her father was a visiting lecturer in political science. Per a Kenyan tradition — naming your child after the events of the day — her parents gave her a Mexican first name, Lupita. She moved back to Kenya with her parents when she was less than one year old, when her father was hired as a professor at the University of Nairobi.

2. She comes from a political family. Her father, Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, is a former minister and current member of Kenya's parliament. Thanks to her early exposure to fame, Lupita isn’t afraid of the limelight now. "I grew up in the limelight and being the child of someone famous, so my relationship with fame is not bedazzled,” she told the LA Times.

3. She loves 90’s TV almost as much as we do. Growing up in Kenya, Lupita was a fan of 90’s classics like Step by Step, Full House, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Friends. In fact, during Lupita’s first visit to America in 1999, Lupita and her family went to Knotts Berry Farm in California, where Lupita envisioned her first roller coaster ride to be very similar to the opening credits of Step by Step. In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel, she said: “It was my first time on a roller coaster, and you know on Step by Step, in the opening credits, they look like they’re having fun, smiling and waving… so as we went up, I was waving like they did in Step by Step, and then my waving came to an abrupt end.”

4. She’s a Final Fantasy 8 fan. Now do you see why we love her? During the same interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Lupita reflected on her first trip to America. “I have a hard time saying that was my first trip here because I spent the whole time playing Final Fantasy 8.” We don’t blame you, Lupita!

5. Her 12 Years a Slave performance was inspired by Whoopi Goldberg and… Michael Jackson? Lupita credits Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple as inspiration for her performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Lupita told UK’s Independent, "Whoopi looked like me, she had hair like mine, she was dark like me. I'd been starved for images of myself. I'd grown up watching a lot of American TV. There was very little Kenyan material, because we had an autocratic ruler who stifled our creative expression." Lupita also drew inspiration from Michael Jackson: "There's something very Michael Jackson-like about Patsey, the childlike quality he always had."

Are you loving Lupita this awards season? Sound off in the comments!

Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things Pretty Little Liars. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!

01.20.2014 / 12:00 AM EDT by Crystal Bell
Related: Celebrity, Features, Movies, Red Carpet

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