12 Years A Slave is opening this weekend and in advance of the (limited) release, Fox Searchlight is screening it at a series of events, as often as possible with sponsorship, so to build momentum and word of mouth and generate support for award season. Here are director Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, and Lupita Nyong’o in LA last night where they also participated in a Q&A. Nyong’o is the breakout star of this film. Word is she’s a lock for a Best Supporting Actress nomination. And then I went to PEOPLE.com and saw this as the headline about her:
Lupita Nyong'o: Making 12 Years a Slave with Brad Pitt Was an 'Out-of-Body Experience'
One day we’ll get past it, right? We have to believe that. We have to believe that one day a black actress can be profiled for her work in a movie about slavery without having the white dude as the hook? Because I get it. I get it that this a necessary evil in our times. That in order to attract the PEOPLE audience to the article, they had to drop Brad Pitt on your face. In this particular instance though, given the subject matter of this particular film, the sting just seems sharper, especially since Nyong’o is such a good interview. Here’s what she told the Huffington Post about what she learned from her experience working on 12 Years A Slave:
“For one thing, I didn't know that I didn't know about slavery. I was like, "Whoa! There's so much going on in this world that I didn't realize I didn't know." In its entirety, "12 Years A Slave," and the experience of being in it, has been an education, and I hope it's the same for people who watch it. What struck me watching the film is how much it is about a call to love. The only thing that gets Solomon through those 12 years is love for his family and the faith that he would see them again. Slavery, as it is depicted in Solomon Northup's autobiography and in Steve's film, is very human. That institution was created by human beings in a way that we don't necessarily want to acknowledge or accept. Recognizing the humanity all around. Even a person like Epps, who does such despicable things, you cannot deny in the way that Michael Fassbender plays him that he is human. He is acting out of circumstance and fear and ignorance.”
So much to work with here, non?
For one, she doesn’t claim to be an expert. It’s like what Ejiofor said recently about being insecure about the role:
“I don’t know, Steve. Am I the guy?”
Both Nyong’o and Ejiofor approach the experience like they’re totally new to the process. It’s humble and refreshing and generous. Above all generous. Which also informs her overall insight on the story:
It is a Call To Love in a story driven by hate. And there’s the humanity in it. Now if you were in this movie, why WOULDN’T you want to campaign for it, and promote the sh-t out of it?
Click here to read more from Lupita Nyong’o.
PS. Her style is pretty badass too.