Barely two years on the Hollywood scene, Lupita Nyong’o has become a force to be reckoned with. In addition to numerous awards already under her belt after her portrayal of Patsy in 12 Years a Slave, as well as the recent announcement that she’s been added to the cast of the upcoming Star Wars movie, Nyong’o can now add a Vogue cover to her list of accomplishments.
In July’s Vogue cover story, Nyong’o touches on everything from her childhood and education and even mentions her dating life. No, she’s not dating Jared Leto, but she is seeing Somali-born rapper K’Naan.
Nyong’o mentions at times that she’s still shocked at her recent success and has to realize that she’s not living a dream. “It just feels like the entertainment industry exploded into my life. People who seemed so distant all of a sudden were right in front of me and recognizing me—before I recognized them!” Nyong’o says.
The actress, of Kenyan descent, reveals that she realized her life was changing after the SAG Awards in January when she encountered the paparazzi at the airport. “For a split second I looked behind me to see who they were flashing at—and it was me!” she remembers. “That was, I think, the beginning of the end of my anonymity.”
Nyong’o also compares her red-carpet experience to a war zone, something she realized wasn’t exactly a good idea during her interview with Vogue. “The red carpet feels like a war zone, except you cannot fly or fight; you just have to stand there and take it.” She considers for a moment. “I hope they don’t make that the big quote!” she says, laughing. “Because that would be sad! Tell them not to do that!”
It’s not often that someone like Nyong’o breaks onto the scene and is greeted with open arms in Hollywood, but she plans on taking full advantage of it. Nyong’o made mention of teaming up with Brad Pitt’s production company to produce and direct Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah, which she said she immediately fell in love with after reading.
In two short years, Nyong’o has made herself a household name, and continues to go after her childhood dreams of acting and producing.
You can view the full fashion editorial and read the interview by visiting Vogue.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.