Add “children’s book author” to Lupita Nyong’o’s long list of accomplishments.
The Oscar-winning actress’s forthcoming book “Sulwe” will tackle colorism and urge readers to love themselves. The title character is a dark-skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty, the Kenyan-Mexican actress wrote in a Jan. 17 Instagram post.
Lupita Nyong’o. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
“She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning,” Nyong’o wrote. “This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin.”
Nyong’o can relate to Sulwe’s struggles.
The 34-year-old Lancôme spokesmodel has been vocal about feeling unbeautiful when she was teased for her dark skin as a child, and when inundated with images that mirrored Eurocentric beauty standards. In a 2014 speech she delivered at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, Nyong’o said the teasing made her wish she’d wake up lighter-skinned.
“I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted,” Nyong’o said in her speech. “I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because he never listened.”
Her self-hatred grew once she hit her teen years, but society’s acceptance of South Sudanese- British model Alek Wek, coupled with Nyong’o’s mother constantly reminding her she was beautiful, gave the actress confidence. She started acting and went on to win an Academy Award in 2014 for her performance in “12 Years a Slave.” Nyong’o triumphed again a few months later when People magazine named her “The Most Beautiful Woman.”
“Sulwe” will be released in January 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.