The Star of 12 Years A Slave, Lupita Nyong’o was invited to the Harris Westminster Sixth Form, London to mentor young women on leadership and the importance of literacy in an event hosted by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Lancôme.
Nyong’o, now a best-selling author, told the BBC she didn’t even like reading when she was young as the books were not about her personality and kind.
She believe books should be about all people, black and white and it should address all concern.
Last year, she released her book ‘Sulwe’ a children’s fiction picture book that addresses colorism in the Black community. It follows the story of a young girl who wishes for her dark skin to be lighter. The story is ultimately about colorism and learning to love oneself, no matter one’s skin tone.
“When I was growing up I didn’t like reading but I was surrounded by books at all times and I did know how to read. But as I grew older I realized that with reading comes comprehension and confidence,” Nyong’o begins. “And I think those are two qualities that are really important as you get into the workforce and try find your place in the world.”
Intermittent snippets show the actress speaking to the young women about the roles reading and studying have played in her professional career when having had to play certain characters with specific capabilities.
Cutting back to the main interview, Nyongo’o continues, “When I was younger, one of the things that didn’t help my dislike of reading was the fact that not a lot of the books that I was reading were relevant to my immediate life, to my immediate world.” She adds that, “I realized that books don’t have to be about White people, they can actually represent all people.”
Towards the end of the interview, Nyong’o says simply, “When you are reading stories that have themes and characters that are relevant to your world, then you’re more likely to stick with [reading] longer because you can see the ways in which it is applicable to your life.”