Lupita Nyong’o is on a sweet high.
Why? The success she is projected to enjoy with her latest movie ‘Black Panther.’
How she’s celebrating its release? By gracing the pages of ‘Allure’ with a stellar shoot, an interview that offers insight into her life as it is today and a conversation about her hair.
Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty. My dad intervened and spoke to my mom about my hair, and she finally agreed. She took me to the salon in the middle of the school day, and I got my hair relaxed. I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable.
On her hair journey…
Well, I didn’t love my hair when I was a child. It was lighter than my skin, which made me not love it so much. I was really kind of envious of girls with thicker, longer, more lush hair. In my tween years, I started begging my mother to have my hair relaxed. She wouldn’t allow it, though her hair was relaxed. She felt that that was a decision I could come to when I was maybe 18. Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty. My dad intervened and spoke to my mom about my hair, and she finally agreed. She took me to the salon in the middle of the school day, and I got my hair relaxed. I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable.
How she feels going natural?
My hair is the longest it’s been in over a decade. A lot of that is because I have an amazing hairstylist in Vernon François. He’s been so helpful, helping me learn how to maintain my natural hair texture. Also giving me regimens that are streamlined because part of the challenge is all the steps. You go on YouTube, and there are just so many different ways of upkeep of one’s natural hair. It’s honey and rosemary water and avocado-paste conditioning and whatnot. I’ve tried it all. Now I love my hair. I love it because I’ve also been able to really embrace the stuff it can do. It’s like clay in the right hands. Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands. Being able to have that kind of playtime with Vernon to create different things has inspired me.
Even in Kenya — you’d think we are predominantly African and black out there — but when I finally had my hair natural, the hairstylist that I had been going to for so long with my relaxed hair didn’t know what to do with my natural hair and just kept offering me different chemicals to put in it. In the end I was like, “Why don’t you know?” And he was like, “We don’t learn how to do natural hair in school.” That baffled me. I just felt it was so unacceptable. So I couldn’t really learn what was good for my hair until I left, which is bizarre. Now, of course, things have really changed.
When [director] Ryan [Coogler] approached me to be in it, he walked me through what he was thinking the story would be about. I remember him finishing his spiel and me being like, “And this is a Marvel movie?” And him being like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “And they said you could make this? Have they green-lighted this idea of yours?” And he was like, “Yeah, I can’t believe it.” And I was like, “Whoa, that is next level.” On set, it was just such an inspirational experience because so much thought was put into this film, and every single aspect of it was rich and beautiful and just arresting, actually. To see this aspirational African world that actually becomes an example for the whole wide world was spellbinding. We were all very much aware that we were in something extremely special.