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Lupita Nyong’o Reflects On Why ‘Black Panther’ Was So Refreshing, Her First Book, And More

Nyong’o shared with Vanity Fair the cultural significance behind Black Panther, and what led her to writing a children's book about colorism and self-acceptance.

Lupita Nyong’o on the October 2019 cover of “Vanity Fair.” Photo: Jackie Nickerson

Black Panther broke down significant barriers in Hollywood as an all-black film, grossing $1.347 billion in box offices across the world. Nyong’o shared with Vanity Fair her thoughts on why the film was such a breath of fresh air.  “In Black Panther, I felt that the African experience was allowed to exist aspirationally,” she said. 

“I think it’s more common in America to hear of the struggle of black people than it is to hear of the success.” 

Undeniably, it has been a trend to focus on the struggle and victimization of black people, rather than tuning into our victories, culture, and endless contributions to the world. 

Nyong’o continues: “So when Black Panther came along…it was so refreshing to work on an African narrative that did not lead with the struggle of being African.” In August, Marvel announced that the sequel to Black Panther will be released in May of 2022.

Her first book, Sulwe, is set to be released on October 15th. The children’s book will center on colorism, self-esteem, and how true beauty comes from within. 

The book follows a little girl named Sulwe who is bullied for being “the color of midnight,” which is based on Nyong’o’s personal experiences.  

The concept for Sulwe was inspired by a letter she received from a girl, where she struggled to accept the shade of her skin. ‘Dear Lupita,’ it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.” 

Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe is composed of stunning, magical imagery; complete with a message of self-love and strength. Pre-order Sulwe on Amazon today. To read the full feature with Lupita Nyong’o , head over to Vanity Fair


Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a 28-year-old writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I’m into spirituality, nature walks, music festivals, poetry, traveling without a destination in mind, painting, and discussing everything out of the ordinary with other curious minds.

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