6 FILMS, INCLUDING QUEEN OF KATWE (2016); ONE ACADEMY AWARD.
Lupita Nyong’o is a message amplifier: only a small handful of major screen credits to her name but what a solid thump they’ve made. She seemed to burst out of parts unknown in her feature-film debut as the sadistically mistreated Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, for which she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress. Fortitude also forms the mortar of her performance in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe as Nakku Harriet, the Mother Courage of a family of hungry, unschooled children in a teeming, poor, ramshackle township in Uganda where skyscrapers stand in the hazy distance like the Emerald City of Oz. Elsewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, Nyong’o is a member of the revivified Star Wars mod squad, playing the goggle-eyed pirate Maz Kanata in J. J. Abrams’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and its next billion-dollar chapter. As if that weren’t pop pantheon enough, she is also cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s forthcoming Black Panther movie, making her a dual dignitary at any Comic-Con.