It's been six weeks since Lupita Nyong'o won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 12 Years a Slave. But given how quickly things happen today, her triumph might as well have happened years ago. The People want a new Lupita role, damn it!
This New York Daily News headline, which describes the anticipation as "a thriller for industry watchers," hits the nail on the head. It quotes an industry watcher as saying: " 'She's proven she's a great actress,' says Entertainment Weekly film correspondent Anthony Breznican. 'Now she still needs to prove she's a movie star.' "
So a lot of ink has been spilled online over Nyong'o possible starring in the next Star Wars film, and then starring in an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel, Americanah. The recent reveal of the actress's Lancome contract was treated like that star-making turn, or at least a good placeholder. This partly seems like grasping at straws; people are so desperate for new movie project that they'll glom onto a modeling campaign. On the other hand, it makes sense. In the beauty industry, as in Hollywood, faces like Lupita's are so rare that her presence is a seismic event.
Maybe that's why people are so eager for her to become a bonafide movie star. Because it would be a shame for Lupita to peak now, especially because of institutionalized racism. Having her build a long-lasting career could also pave the way for other actresses of color.
Yet where I assumed that Hollywood isn't offering any roles to its unconventional It Girl, the Daily News differs in an interesting way:
The trick will be for the newly minted face of Lancome to hold onto her afterglow. Hollywood's creative graveyard is littered with cautionary tales of Oscar winners, like Adrien Brody and Cuba Gooding Jr., who didn't capitalize on their award glory.
As a result, she's taking her time committing, and who can fault her? Who knows if she could bounce back from a failed project as well as others? Building the anticipation, whether intentional of not, is a smart move as well. Right after the Oscars, I set up a "Lupita Nyong'o new role" Google alert thinking it would pay off within a week or two. A month-and-a-half later I'm trying not to tear my hair out while archiving alerts that recycle the same Lancome/Marie Claire/when are we gonna know? news over and over.
Image via Getty.